How would you feel if you could have more time to lead the rich rewarding life you deserve? Work fewer nights and weekends? Increase profits? Lower risk? It all boils down to aligning and empowering your leadership teams.
After having the privilege of spending the past 23 years working with business owners and their leadership teams, I’ve been able to help change businesses and improve – often transform – lives.
One of the most common questions I get asked is “What is the biggest business challenge owners are facing?” Most people expect an answer that is functional in nature. For instance problems like sales, marketing, finance, HR, planning, IT, exit/succession planning, etc. Sure those are all very real, common opportunities for improvement that owners face.
But, none of those things are in fact the biggest business challenge that owners face. The biggest challenge is the business owner themselves. Most of the time, the owner is not aware that they are getting in their own way. Getting the owner to focus their time and energy on the essentials is what contributes to improving your business and changing your life.
Most business owners haven’t had the experience of growing a business. There simply aren’t enough how-to classes or training sessions in “How To Grow Your Business.” Owners who do grow their organizations – meaning more customers, more top line revenue – are still often hampered by some common culprits:
- Broken or missing processes.
- Shortage of resources – people, money, technology, time.
- Breakdown in communications.
- High levels of stress and frustration.
- Working crazy hours including nights and weekends.
- Owner isn’t able to take the time for themselves and their families.
- Owner feels strained mentally, physically, spiritually and the effects touch everything and everyone.
How does this happen? As the business grows, owners have a hard time letting go of things they have always done:
- Example One: Owners continue to work “in” the business versus working “on” the business. In growing their organization, they don’t transition the engineering, sales, client management, operations, design, etc. to others. Why? They think no one can do the task as well as they can. Or they like doing it. Or they think they have to do it. Or they don’t have a resource that has the skills to do it. So owners feel stuck. They are lonely. They may try to delegate but the job doesn’t get done so they do it themselves.
- Example Two: Owners continue to do all of the invoicing themselves. Impacts being that invoices are late getting out, customers often have to contact the business asking for their bills, and cash flow is impacted. It is hard to grow a company without cash.
- Example Three: Sales close but operations isn’t able to deliver the product or service on-time, on-budget, and with high quality. The owner steps in to manage the operations thinking that will take care of things.
When the owner is continually stepping in to band-aid a problem, or plug the leak, it results in the owner now doing multiple jobs. And often in this scenario, they don’t do any of them well. Balls get dropped. Pressure builds. The owner is trying to run the business and make sure the daily operations are functioning too. It is too much for any person. The owner is in their own way. Growth can be painful.
Once the owner learns to let go, delegate, hold people accountable and hire the right resources (which sometimes means hiring someone with a skill or expertise the owner doesn’t possess themselves) then growth becomes manageable.
- Yes, people will make mistakes. And that is okay. Learn from them. It makes everyone and the company itself better.
- Yes, things won’t always go as planned. That is okay. Again, learn from it but you should expect that along the way you will have to make adjustments to your plans for a variety of reasons. The end destination remains the same, the road you take to care may change.
- Yes, it is hard. Owners who go through this transition are better for it in the long-run.
- Yes, you the business owner can end up with more time, more money, more freedom.
To learn more about getting out of your own way as the business owner so that you can have the freedom you want click here to schedule a call with Blair.
Blair Koch is the CEO of TAB Denver West, a TAB CEO Advisory Board Facilitator, and a Business Ownership Lifecycle Coach. Blair has spent most of her career helping small business owners achieve their personal and professional goals. She also hosts the Best Businesses in Denver podcast.