I think every entrepreneur knows when things just aren’t quite right:
Customer service is slipping – you hear feedback about lack of timely responses, or projects aren’t always completed or delivered on time.
Maybe you’re showing signs of burnout, unfinished projects are piling up, you find yourself getting sick more often or dealing with headaches almost every day, you feel like you’re losing your fire for the work
And undoubtedly, your work hours are getting longer and longer, but still you can’t quite get on top of everything, it just keeps coming.
You find that you’re hesitant to take on new clients – who and how are you going to service them? You hear yourself pushing out start times, and that’s making your growth stagnant.
You’re spending all your time focused on survival vs. growth; you aren’t moving the needle, you’re just keeping your nose above water.
And you woke up one morning to realize that you have stopped doing what you do well – well. That thing you do with more style and grace than anyone else – you don’t have time to do that anymore. Or if you do, it’s not stylish or graceful…it’s just get the darn thing done and move on to the next task as quickly as possible.
The fact is, you have your highest value employee (you) doing low value work (everything).
But this isn’t new to you. You just don’t think about it, or admit it to yourself very often. You know something has got to give, because it’s impossible for things to continue to go the way they have. Either the business will break, or you will (which results in the same outcome). But the prospect of giving up control, and paying someone stops you dead in your tracks.
The questions that hold most of us back are
Well, here are the facts.
“While it’s true, there are some things squarely in your genius zone, that you bring an unbelievable flair to….I don’t think that extends to opening the mail and logging the bills. “
If you’re thinking of hiring someone for $50K a year, you don’t need to come up with $50K now. I actually used to let that thinking hold me back. I don’t have an extra $50K, I can’t afford to hire anyone! But in fact, I was forgetting (or ignoring) the most important reason to add to the team. They will free you up to focus on growing the business, and help ensure that clients are getting what they need, when they need it. That makes the client happier, and a more likely source of referrals. So, you’ll see that a new team member will start paying for themselves really quickly (if not, they aren’t the right hire). Within 3 months, you should be able to see a real difference in your company’s growth – and your peace of mind. So don’t think of coming up with $50K, think of coming up with $12K – just enough to cover salary until you start seeing a return on your investment.
Which reminds me – you aren’t spending on hiring someone new; you’re investing in the growth of your company. We have to do work on our mindset, and how we approach investing financial capital to grow the business. Remember, nothing is stagnant. You’re hiring someone so you get the bandwidth to GROW. I know you have heard this before – but that’s because it’s true. If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking – there is no such thing as standing still in business. Because everything around you is changing all the time. So if you aren’t moving at least enough to keep up, you’re falling behind.
Next we hit the – how will they know what to do; I don’t have time to train someone.
I’ll tell you a secret – when you say “I don’t have time to train someone” that’s pure ego talking. What you’re actually saying is – what I do is so complex and special, it would take years to get anyone up to speed. No one is me – they aren’t as fast, accurate, knowledgeable or just plain excellent as I am. It would take an untold amount of time to get them anywhere near as good as I am. And I am so important, and busy, that I just don’t have the time to spare on something so insignificant as training.
While it’s true, there are some things squarely in your genius zone, that you bring an unbelievable flair to….I don’t think that extends to opening the mail and logging the bills. We have got to stop using the lame excuse that someone else can’t be taught these things.
And truth be told – it’s easier for us to hang on to low hanging fruit tasks, than to tackle the hard things we know we should be doing – like figuring out why that prospect went with our competitor; or is our pricing model sustainable for the business, or should we be investing in a different marketing strategy.
And yes – you’ll have to carve out time to train. But isn’t 1 hour of training worth getting rid of 5 hours a week of invoice logging? Just lock in your discipline, and decide. Decide you’re going to take the steps necessary to get out from under low value work.
So, how does this all happen?
Well first – you have to figure out what you’re doing now. And yes, I mean write it down. Write down the tasks you are doing in a week – write them down as you do them. And as you’re doing that, bullet point the process you go through for each task.
Yep, I know – I don’t like doing stuff like this either – but it makes the selection and training part infinitely easier.
Once you have a good list – highlight the tasks you can most easily off-gas. Things like mail, logging, phone calls, answering eMails, posting to social media – be ruthless. Everything that could possibly be turned over to someone else with less than 2 hours of training on the task, highlight it. It doesn’t matter if you end up with way too much for one person to do, right now we’re just identifying what is possible, we’ll cull the list later.
Now, look at the task list and daydream a bit. What skill or ability would you love to see added to that task.
For instance, if the task if opening the mail – wouldn’t it be great if the bills that come in are logged in QuickBooks under the chart of accounts. And wouldn’t it be great if at the end of the month those are reconciled with the bank and credit card statements.
Use your imagination – what if… What if the person you brought in was actually better than you at the task. I don’t know about you, but I always try to hire up!
Alright – so now we have a task list of items to be delegated; the bulleted training overview for the tasks, and the skills requirements from our daydreaming exercise. Now it’s time the find the right person.
Using the info from the earlier exercises, you actually now have a draft job description that you can use to create the posting ad. It’s also a good idea to look at similar jobs on sites like Indeed, to get an idea of salary.
In addition to posting, tell everyone you know that you’re looking for someone. Cast as wide a net as you can – you never know where excellence may be hiding. Reach out to veterans groups, remote working moms, seniors looking at their next chapter. You may be surprised at the level of talent you can tap into.
Once you start getting resumes, commit to at least 1 hour a day for 1 or 2 weeks to reviewing them. As you look, again, be a bit ruthless – you should have an ‘absolutely not’ pile, a ‘I’m kind of in love with this person’ pile, and a ‘I’m really on the fence’ pile. Set up interviews with the ‘in love’ people first, then the ‘fence people’ if you still haven’t found ‘the one’.
If you find yourself getting stuck, ask for help. Talk to coaches, mentors and other people you admire in business, ask for their feedback. And if you’re feeling particularly immobile, hire the person on a temp basis. Something like a 2 -3 month assignment.
Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean paying them cash under the table – they’ll still be an employee, eligible for a W2 at the end of the year. But you aren’t making a long term commitment.
Another thing to think about is the compliance piece. You’ll have to set up payroll, get an employer ID and take care of other compliance related items. It’s a bit of work, but you’ll need this foundation set, to support your future growth anyway. And there’s always the option of outsourcing the setup to a company like Idomeneo, hint hint.
Don’t let anything stop you. You can’t keep trying to do everything – not if you want to grow. And remember, in this case 1 + 1 actually equals 4.
The preceding is provided for general informational purposes only, and not intended to constitute legal advice.