The concept of lifestyle design has certainly gained a lot of traction in the global community of entrepreneurs in recent years. Notable industry influencers including Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, have pointedly made the assertion that owning a business needs to mean more than just balance sheets and bank accounts. Certainly, there are financial rewards for the effort, risk and ambition necessary to operate a thriving business. But, monetary success can be achieved with more reliability and definitely less stress in corporate employment. The real allure of entrepreneurship is the opportunity to design the business lifestyle based on your terms. This means making your own rules, setting your own goals, building your own path and pursuing what you value. For most of us, it’s this promise of living life on our own terms that drove us to leave the safe but unfulfilling work we had.
Unfortunately, not many business owners are living life by their own design. In fact, many business owners struggle to do much more than keep the operation going. Often jumping from one fire to the next, one day to the next. This happens for many reasons, but there are three excuses that stand out as both common and surmountable.
- Excuse #1 – “I’m the only one who knows how”
Solution – Teach someone. While you are undoubtedly talented and experienced, you’re most likely not a rocket scientist. And as it turns out, even rocket scientists are taught by other rocket scientists. To be a strong leader means to be a strong teacher. Anything can be taught, given the student is willing to learn and a detailed plan is created and followed. The good news is you don’t need to teach one person how to do your job. Divide your responsibilities, evaluate the strengths of your team and then delegate individual responsibilities to the team members that are most likely to excel at each responsibility.
- Excuse #2 – “I’m the only one my clients will deal with”
Solution – Elevate someone. If you really have the credibility you believe you have with your clients, use it. Introduce someone on your team as your protege, your right-hand man, the person behind the scenes really making things happen. Bring them to meetings, have them sit in on calls and demonstrate their competence. Relationships are definitely more delicate and complex than administrative responsibilities. The transition will take longer, but it’s critical in your effort to step away from operations and focus on growth, your family, your next business or even your golf game. What is it you want again?
- Excuse #3 – “I don’t have time to work on this right now.”
Solution – How many times have you said those words? For how many years? This will never change if you don’t take action. If you dedicated 5 hours a week for 6 months and that yielded 20 hours a week to pursue projects you were passionate about, would you make that trade? Much of the time will be created by simply implementing the two previous solutions. Business happens fast and life happens faster. The time to act is now.
If your business isn’t providing you with the life you imagined, there are absolutely things you can start doing today to right the ship. Priority number one has to be assessing everything you do, right now, that no one else is doing. Once you’ve identified these, the next step is to build systems, policies and procedures that empower people on your team to take over three of those tasks. Finally, you need to delegate those tasks to the appropriate people and take responsibility for training them effectively. In six months, move on to the next three tasks on the list and repeat the process.
Is it that easy? Yes and no. To greatly increase the potential for success, it’s essential to accurately identify the opportunities and implement the correct solutions, which often takes a second or even third pair of eyes. We recommend working with a business advisor, who can provide clarity and guidance at each stage. We’ve worked with many of our small business clients in this endeavor and we’re confident just a conversation will produce powerful insight. When you’re ready, so are we.