One of the reasons why small businesses stay small is because their owner(s) don't take the next critical step. It's very common to see "mom and pops" that, for years, never seem to grow. To the entrepreneur, his/her business is like a child. You want to care for it, make sure it grows, and are deathly afraid of hiring babysitters or allowing it to become more independent.
Most people would be inclined to believe that most businesses fail because there wasn't sufficient demand. While that is true, the opposite is also true. Many businesses out there also fail precisely because there was too much demand and they couldn't keep up. When you can't keep up in running the business you will start to bleed customers very fast, until you eventually end up with something not worth doing anymore or get burnt out.
Listen, you can't grow without help...
There's pills for that!
Huh? Who said that? ;)
On a serious note, unless you empower your business to run itself without you having to be there, it will never reach its full potential. The same goes for children. We also talk about and make fun of "helicopter parents" but the problem is real. There are many "helicopter entrepreneurs" out there.
As an entrepreneur, you need to remember this golden rule:
To grow, you need to automate or delegate. Or do both.
To those of you who are familiar with Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, he lays out a very important principle. To be financially successful and independent, you need to be able to generate PASSIVE income, not linear income. Linear income is pretty much working a job. You exchange one hour of your time for a set amount of money. Passive income means you collect money without even doing anything.
The linear income dilemma is not just restricted to people working a job though. Entrepreneurs can also get stuck in this trap. Take, for example, that you own a design business. It's pretty much a 1 or 2-man show. However, in order to earn any money, you yourself are hired out by the hour by your client. If you want to grow your business, then this model is unsustainable. During this time that you're hired out, you cannot take on any additional work, which means in the grand scheme of things, you are LOSING money. If you are handling paperwork or other administrative/non-value add tasks...again...you are LOSING money.
For all of you out there who are or want to become entrepreneurs, I want you to say this affirmation to yourself:
I am an entrepreneur. I am a LEADER. I am NOT a Manager.
I want you to take this to heart. A leader is not a manager. A leader brings people together to work for a common goal. A leader sets a strategy and vision for the rest of the organization. Managers are there to make sure everyone's doing their part. Do you think the Chairman of a large company knows every little thing that's going on in the company? Nope, not even close. All that matters at the end of the day is the results. Same goes for a General of an army. They don't manage their army, that's the job of their subordinates. They LEAD their army. I can go on and on with more practical examples, but I think you get the point.
So...assuming your business is making money and doing relatively well, it is time to start distancing yourself from day-to-day operations to focus on greater value-add activities. Yes, some people may argue that hiring people or buying new technology costs money. True, but losing time costs even more.
What kind of activities are non-value add you ask? Here are some common ones:
- Paperwork - Things like order invoices, shipping, correspondence, etc.
- Customer service - A lot of times, most situations are easily handled by someone else
- Micro-managing employees (also called "firefighting") - Let a manager do that if you really insist on it, you should only worry about the results
- Accounting (sorry, but it's true) - The more time you spend counting pennies leaves less time for grabbing more
To delegate, you should first hire a manager who can run the day-to-day operations of your business. That manager, if they're smart, will then make recommendations on what additional labor needs to be hired in order to make the operation efficient. Think of a manager as the "babysitter". Even with a babysitter, the child knows who to call daddy/mommy. Same goes for your company, everyone still knows you're the owner and the HMFIC (Head Mo'Fugga In Charge)
If you feel your company is not yet ready for a separate non-owner management team, then at least hire the people you need to take care of the non-value add activites of your business. However, give them sufficient independence so that they can grow, and you can focus on growing the business!
The most important activities you need to do as a leader is to bring in new business and set the overall strategy of your company. Focus on passive income. That's how you grow.
Make it your goal to make the only mention of "helicopter entrepreneur" as a reference to you landing your helicopter on the East Side...in that deluxe apartment in the sky.