Do You Find Yourself Missing the Early Days of the Business


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I’m not going to lie.  Sometimes I get exhausted.  Now, I love my business, but sometimes it feels like it’s all too much.  And I find myself missing the early days of the business.

You know what it’s like, when you’re hit with one problem after another.  This client is having an issue with this process.  That client isn’t paying their bill on time.  You’re going to have to deal with a team member that couldn’t meet a deadline if it walked up and shook his hand.  And the tech support company says you have to upgrade equipment because you have so many more people now…oh, and by the way it will cost around $10K.

Sure, back in the day the team was smaller, and we had far fewer clients – but that also meant I had fewer responsibilities.  A smaller number of problems to solve each day, less data and information coming in.  It actually felt kind of good to know I could get my arms around the whole company.

If something came up, or a team member was missing – no worries.  I could easily fill in.  Not only did I know everything about how the business was running, I mean I knew it at a micro level.  I knew every step of every process.  I knew the quirks of that application that never takes your password if you’re using Firefox, so you always have to use Chrome to log in.

I knew that although that insurance company says they have the account noted to send hard copies of the invoices each month, they never do – so you have to calendar a reminder and pull it directly from their system.

I knew which clients actually reviewed the payroll journals we sent before the final processing, and the ones that didn’t…and the ones that hated to even get the eMail so just process it and send them the final reports.

I was so close to everything, what’s that they say, I was where the rubber meets the road – every day.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot.  But it also was a feeling of great control.  I knew everything , so I could impact how everything got done.

And, if I’m being honest – my control freak of a self, does sometime miss it all.

…You need to shake things up.  In fact, I’m a big proponent of every leader occasionally tipping their world on it’s ear.  Engage in a little Leadership Restart.  Stop doing the same things, in the same way that you always do them.

You might occasionally have those feelings too – everyone does at one point or another.  Wistfully remembering when the company was completely under your control, no surprises.

Well, there’s nothing wrong with having those fleeting thoughts – but make sure they really are fleeting.  Because when you actually shake that all out, and take a good hard look at it, you’ll realize that those ‘good ole days’ probably weren’t all that good.

For one thing, yes you had full control over everything, but that also meant everything had to go through you.  So you, by necessity, were the focal point for everything that was going on in the company.  Another way to say that – you were the bottleneck.  And it made your load too heavy, working on things that shouldn’t have been your focus as the business leader.

And don’t kid yourself – that massively slows down your ability to grow.

And not for nothing – but you were also basically only relying on your brain power.  You weren’t leveraging the intelligence, creativity and skill of a team (oh – didn’t I mention that’s part of having absolute control – it doesn’t leave room for anyone else to contribute).  And while I’m sure you’re a brilliant business person (me too); it simply can’t compare with having multiple viewpoints and input.  After all, that’s how innovation happens.

So, one of your employees just told you that she’s pregnant.  Feeling overwhelmed, with no idea where to start?  After all, HR just got dumped on your plate.  It’s not your zone of genius, and you don’t want it to be.

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The other part is, when your business was smaller you were limited in how many people you could help.  And after all, that’s the reason you’re in business isn’t it – so you can help your clients.  Help them improve their businesses, take some stressor off their plate, give them a product or service that helps them become more successful.

Well, when you’re a smaller company, you have a more limited bandwidth – you simply can’t help as many people.

So, what can you do when you start feeling stuck in nostalgia, or when you’re feeling what the French call ennui (that feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction).

Well, some people take the opportunity to look at where they are, and figure out if that’s where they want to be.  They might decide to downsize, because it turns out that being smaller, more boutique, is a better fit for their personality and goals.  And of course, that’s perfectly fine – you absolutely have to do what feels right for you.

But for me, going smaller isn’t the answer.

You need to shake things up.  In fact, I’m a big proponent of every leader occasionally tipping their world on it’s ear.  Engage in a little Leadership Restart.  Stop doing the same things, in the same way that you always do them.  Revisit your vision, how has it changed or grown – is there some new service or division you’re thinking about?

Take a look at your brand – what can you do to grow the perception of your brand in the minds of prospective customers.

And listen – no matter if you decide to go small; or start a leadership earthquake – always remember that absolute control is rarely the answer.  If you insist on having control of everything in the business (large or small) it means the business can only grow to your limits, and no farther.

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