Does the following conversation sound familiar?
Me: How's business?
Most people: It's great. I'm so busy!
Me: Oh nice. Want to get together and discuss some growth opportunities?
Most people: I'd love to, but I'm just too busy. I'm working like 60 hours a week and can't make the time.
Sound familiar? Well there's a way to solve it.
You know the old cliche saying: work on your business, not in your business.
But the thing is most business owners don't have a clue what that means. Nor will they make the time to work on what matters.
I call this busy being busy.
If you are too busy to work on growing your business I am questioning if you have the right business structure.
Life is full of excuses. And it seems people will stop at nothing to find an excuse not to do something.
If a task is difficult or time-consuming most people will find a way to put it off until later so it never gets done.
Most people will say that being too busy is a good problem to have. I disagree, I think its an excuse that may be holding you back from reaching your full potential.
Do you have an organizational chart? Ok good. Open it up and look at it. (If this takes you a long time we have identified a problem).
Is it current?
Do you have goals within your organizational chart?
Are there any open positions?
Are you doing too many tasks?
A current organizational chart is essential to getting out of the busy trap.
If used properly an org chart can really help you visualize what you need, identify opportunities, and move the business forward. It can also help you understand hiring plans and what tasks need to be delegated.
Most business owners know they need to delegate tasks but very few do it or do it effectively.
You can't do everything in your business effectively.
We all know that. But many people still get stuck doing too many tasks. They won't delegate, can't do it effectively, or don't know how to delegate.
Here is an exercise you can do.
For a week or two, track how you spend your time in your business incredibly closely and detailed. After a week or two look at your timesheet and analyze it. Where are you spending the majority of your time? Are you happy about that or not?
Now group those tasks into several categories:
- Tasks you enjoy doing.
- Task you do not enjoy.
- Income producing activities
- Tasks you are bad at.
You should probably start delegating tasks that you don't enjoy and those that you are bad at.
Now we need to talk about delegating properly. Have you ever said this before?
"Oh, forget it. Give it to me. It's just faster for me to do it myself than to show you how to do it properly."
If you said yes there should be a major alarm bell going off right now.
How can you expect to successfully delegate a task to someone if you don't show them how you want it done?
When you are delegating a task, training the person you are delegating it to, is critical.
I'm going to go back and reference a classic flow chart from The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.
Honestly, this picture has been above my desk directly in front of my computer monitors for years and years and years. It's crazy how effective it is.
I use it in my personal life as well. Let's say my wife ask me to mow the lawn. I'll let you take it from there...
The point is you need to learn how to delegate and to do it effectively.
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Yep. You heard me correctly. Fire yourself.
Well not completely but from certain tasks.
Remember way back, when you were a one-person show? You did everything, right? It sucked I'm sure. And was super stressful.
But back then, if you think about it, your name was on every spot on the org chart because you were a one-person show.
It was actually a pretty simple org chart back then. Just one bubble:
Me = Does everything (or Jack of all trades, master of none).
But as you grew you added jobs, roles, and bubbles to your org chart. In essence, you fired yourself from certain tasks. Most likely because you didn't like them, weren't good at them, or they weren't income producing.
Smart move I really like it.
So, fire yourself as often as possible, up the org chart.
You also have to realize that your role will change as your business grows. So, you must assess and adjust your role and activities as your business grows to various stages.
Take A Month Off
A month off? You can barely take 2 days in a row without the wheels coming off right? Well, you have a lot of work to do then.
The only way to know if your business is structured properly is to test it. A stress test if you will.
So, take a month off. No emails, no calls, no nothing related to the business. You have to try it to see what happens.
You will learn a ton from the experience and be able to implement changes that make your business structure even better.
Not comfortable with a month? Ok, let's do baby steps. How about a week? But remember the rules. You need to completely unplug from the business. No emails, calls, or anything related to the business.
I find it is best to put yourself in a position where you literally can't work even if you wanted to.
For me that is a long river trip in the wilderness. If I had to give you a suggestion it would be to hop on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho for a 7 day, 102 mile float through one of the wildest and most remote areas in the lower 48.
Set Up For An Exit
But why do we do all of this? There has to be a reason.
Building a strong business structure where you as an owner are not a necessary component is the only way you will ever exit a business.
Read that again.
Why would anyone buy your business if you were needed? It doesn't make any sense.
Additionally, exiting doesn't necessarily mean selling your business.
There are tons of different forms of exiting a business. You can pass it on to a family member, allow it to run itself, bring in equity partners, etc.
At SLC Bookkeeping we operate with what I call a hit by the bus mentality. Meaning, our business needs to be built, processed, and structured in a manner where anyone can get hit by a bus and the business continues on per normal.
Sick thought? Sure I'm with you. But it's highly effective.
I stress this with employees from day one. If you leave the business for whatever reason (quit, sick, vacation, etc.) and someone else can't step in and do your job we have failed as a company. That is how process driven you need to be.