Break Your Control Freak Habit and Catalyze Your Business

Most entrepreneurs are control freaks. And that holds for small business leaders and managers inside businesses alike. You’ve spent a lifetime, since your school days in fact, being rewarded for taking personal responsibility for getting your assignments done. On your own. No one ever said, “Great job handing that assignment off!” when you were in school. And you spent 12 or more years being rewarded for doing it all yourself.

Let me ask you this: Would you do just about anything to keep your hand ‘in’ your business, rather than hand the work off to others? Just like my client, Susan, you may be sabotaging your own success.

One of the reasons businesses languish, and even fail, is that the business owner or leader is doing everything themselves. Whether we stepped up in responsibility over time spent in our profession or started our own business as an entrepreneur, we often think the business success requires keeping our own personal grip on the reins of all the activity. I say “we” because I know it myself – I’ve struggled to decide what I was willing to hand over to others. And Susan is facing that challenge right now.

The thing is, as any business grows, the sheer volume and variety of things to be done outpaces what you (or I) can actually accomplish on our own. If you try to run it all, you’ll likely run the business itself into the ground. Why? Because, you’ll take your eyes and mind off of the High Payoff activities that should have your time and attention.

If you want to make more money, have more fun and have time off too, you must get things off of YOUR to do list and get your attention where it belongs.

Here’s what I mean. My client, Susan, is growing her marketing business. She has to hire junior level folks and train them in the services her firm provides. That takes time. And it may take weeks or months for each new hire to demonstrate they can handle all the types of work that needs to be delivered to their particular clients.

Along the way Susan runs into the same challenge over and over – to incrementally hand over the client relationship and all the work to the more ‘junior’ person who is becoming experienced in handling the client. Susan’s bump in the road is that she forgets to step back to a leader’s role of empowering her staff. So Susan’s company is even more dependent upon her for all new work Not only is she diverted from going after new clients, she’s standing in the way of her staff emerging as business developers. They aren’t having a chance to build the client relationships that will let them look for and propose additional work with their existing clients.

Her higher value to her business, and her clients, is in being available to solve complex and strategic issues they run into. When she makes that shift, she’ll be able to keep her own attention on marketing and bringing in more business.

You have choices for how to handle it in your role as a business leader. You can hire people and train them and hand work over to them. Or you can outsource it to specialists with proven track records at handling the very stuff you’re ready to delegate. Different decisions, useful at different points in a business’s growth. But each option poses the exact same challenge:

What, exactly, is the stuff that you should hand off? The first way to identify it is that it’s: Stuff you’re not an expert in Stuff you’ve never done before Stuff that will fill your calendar and not move your business forward

When you get those items off your to do list, you recover your attention and you can refocus it on the critical items that demand your involvement.

In my own world, I’m outsourcing parts of my own business activity. I’m gradually handing things off to my fabulous assistant. And in time, as the business grows, I’ll be handing off more.

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