Get unstuck so your business can grow

Frustrated woman entrepreneurSo far this week I’ve met with two women entrepreneurs who are consulting clients and they both have the same problem.

They want their business to grow and they’re stuck.  They work hard – both of them are putting in 60+ hours a week.

They are so busy with day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, that just getting through their weekly “To Do” list or fighting fires consumes all their time and energy and then some.

More time won’t solve their problem.

Their businesses are too dependent on them. 

Is your business too dependent on you?  Until you start to break this dependence, your growth will be limited.  (And you may be overworked!)

Here’s the good news:  learning one important (and overlooked!) concept will help you break this dependence.

What’s that concept?  Some functions make your business successful short term and some functions will make it successful long term.  You, as the owner, need to focus on the functions that will make your business healthy, effective and efficient long term.

Turning over the short-term functions will make your business less dependent on you.  Because short-term needs crowd out long-term needs every time.

If we neglect the things that move the company forward long term, we stay stuck in the endless loop of trying to keep up with daily tasks that someone else could do.

Here’s an example of the functions that make your business successful in the short-term:

  • Accounting, payroll and benefits administration
  • Administration (systems, procedures, policies)
  • Sales (bet that surprised you!)
  • Operations

Here’s an example of the functions that will make your business successful in the long-term:

  • Staff development, training & teamwork
  • Strategic planning
  • Marketing (anticipating the market & future customer needs; innovation)
  • Finance

That list of long-term functions is where you as the leader should be spending most of your time.  To begin to break the company’s dependence on you, start with staff development and training.

Now that you know this, it’s time to make a plan to delegate or outsource everything you possibly can from the short-term list.  (I can hear you groaning!)

  • “My employees don’t know how to do these things as well as I do.”  You’re right, they probably don’t.  Your job is to teach them.
  • “No one here understands these procedures like I do.”  Right again, the processes and procedures are likely all in your head.
  • “I can’t afford to hire someone or outsource.”  I understand.  You’ll have to get creative and think about how to create new revenue with the time you free up.

Let me assure you, these thoughts are all completely normal!

You won’t get there overnight.  But picture your company a year from now and imagine how different it can look.

Start small.  Choose one thing and work toward letting it go.

Think about all the knowledge and information you are carrying around in your head!  Once you free up some of that mental space and you can focus on how to create new revenue.

Begin right now to document processes and procedures.

Just start.  You don’t have to create an entire Procedures Manual in one sitting.  Commit to documenting one process every week.  Get things out of your head and write them down.

The famous management consultant W. Edward Demming (he’s the guy who saved the Japanese auto industry after WWII) says it this way:  “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Strong words, I know.  But though we may not be aware we have a “process” behind what we do and the decisions we make, we actually do.  It just comes so naturally to us that it’s hard to define.

But you can!  Break down your own thinking process and write it down.

Take the time to train others, not just what to do, but why, and how to make decisions.  Commit to teaching one employee something new each week.  Teach them what you do, how you do it, why you do it, what factors you consider when you make your decisions.  Teach them to think.

Now that you have the awareness, you’ll see your business through different eyes.  Separating long and short-term functions is your first step toward making your business less dependent on you.

Then you can grow! (Or chill out on a beach somewhere!  Send me a postcard.)


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