A Common Mistake Most Small Local Business Owners Make
An alternative title, “Do You Ever Sleep??”
Second alternative title, “How Do You Do it All?”
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, life as a business owner looks significantly different from when we first opened our doors four years ago. While I still retain some responsibilities, like communicating with party clients, there are many tasks I used to keep on my “plate” that I have since outsourced, like working parties and events, and things I gave up altogether, like stalking the weather and worrying about competition.
However, one of the most common mistakes I see small business owners (especially local small business owners) make is hoarding all of the most important tasks for themselves.
This mistake is usually borne from good intentions-- the business owner wants everything to be done exactly the right way. However, a major lie that we tell ourselves as business owners is that WE are the only people who can accomplish these tasks, or accomplish them as good we expect them to be done.
Not only is it untrue that others can almost always do these tasks just as well as us, but they can often do them better. This was a very hard pill to swallow for me as a business owner and recovering control freak, but it could not be more true.
Other employees have different experiences and different perspectives than us, and can often offer fresh insight into our processes and workflows that not only improve them and make them more efficient, but that actually make the business run better overall and improve profits.
It wasn’t until I got (unexpectedly) pregnant with my second child our first year in business and had to take a step back after giving birth (thanks to an emergency c-section) that I started to surrender some of the processes I was holding onto.
I will never forget lying in a hospital bed, having just given birth ten days early, absolutely panicking that no one would be able to shop for the party supplies or place the food orders or work the parties or write the schedule for the next week since I was obviously out-of-commission.
Like most business owners, I was well-meaning. I wanted my birthday party clients to be honored and taken care of, and I was convinced I was the only person who would be able to deliver stellar customer service (up to my standards, anyway).
However, here’s the magical thing: everyone figured it out and everything got done without me. Luckily I had taken notes and documented what needed to be ordered, and all of the parties went off without a hitch. Our supervisor at the time wrote the schedule for the following week (winter break week, one of our busiest of the year!) and did an even better job than I possibly could have.
Now, I have to be honest here. I should have been elated and relieved, but in that moment, I was actually a little bummed. My business didn’t need me as much as I had previously thought (and maybe even hoped). My skills weren’t as “special” as I had assumed, and other people on my team were able to accomplish them even better than I was able to.
After I got over the initial disappointment, I started surrendering a bit more and delegating more and more tasks (I did have a newborn, after all!) and monitoring the effects on my business.
And I was amazed.
Everything was running smoothly, if anyone had any questions they were answered by our supervisor, and I was able to rest at home with my newborn, completing ONLY the tasks I could do from home during naptime.
I started becoming more “addicted” to this freedom that delegation gave me, and eventually made a few more hires and offloaded even more off of my task list.
I was finally free to do what I did best, which in my case was marketing and innovating new revenue streams. And the best part is, I was able to do it with a mind that wasn’t cluttered with other tasks, so I was much more creative and accomplished much more in these categories than I was able to otherwise.
Not only did I enjoy my day-to-day better, because I was operating in my “genius zone”, working only on things I enjoyed, but our profits actually INCREASED.
When I began delegating more I fully expected our profits to decrease since our payroll hours skyrocketed, but I was OK with that because my priority was my new baby who was born with hip dysplasia and required constant (daily) appointments.
However, the opposite turned out to be true.
My team was filling all of their hours with work instead of sitting around (which realistically just happens if there are no customers to serve) and since I was more creative and had time to INNOVATE, our revenue went up dramatically, much more than the increase in payroll expenditure.
And all of this while I was working about 10 hours per week, compared to my previous 40-50 hours.
Unfortunately, most business owners never have a traumatic experience like an emergency early c-section to snap them out of their old ways and never come to this realization.
Therefore, their business will always be limited by their ability to work. They are simply trading “time for dollars” because their businesses’ revenue is completely dependent on the amount of time they are able to put in themselves.
And when they stop, so does their business.
Like myself, they probably get a lot of comments like, “when do you sleep?!” or “how do you do it?!”. My answer, now, is that I have an incredible team behind me who makes it all possible.
So if you are a small business owner, I’d like to challenge you to start keeping track of all the tasks you complete each week and pay especially close attention to tasks that are repetitive and also tasks that don’t bring you any joy.
Examples might be writing the schedule, going to the post office, ordering food, etc.
Even things that “just take five minutes” each week add up over time, so don’t let the time it might take to train someone else deter you from offloading even the smallest of line-items
Then I challenge you to choose ONE task to take off your plate this week. And another the next week, and another the next. Soon you will find yourself with more time, more happiness, and YES, even more profits.
I’d love to hear about what you’re delegating, so leave a comment and let me know!