Last week, we talked about the mechanics of growth, focusing on the important of renewals / repeat business to your growth. We skipped over one of the more important aspects of figuring out how to grow: what you want your business’ growth destination to be.
Are you the “doer”, the “p and p’er” or both?
Figuring out your preferred role is critical. It drives how you feel about growth. Few people like both roles, but they do exist.
Some people are doers. They love the work. Whether it’s drywalling, programming, operating heavy equipment, or defending clients in court, they love the work. Some doers don’t even want to think about stepping away from the work to deal with employees & other trappings of growth.
Some doers decide not to grow their business (or grow it beyond themselves) because they’re seriously allergic to the “people & paperwork” aspects of business. They know that growing the business is all but guaranteed to pull them away from the work they love.
The “people and paperwork” role I’m speaking of is “the back office”. We’re talking about sales, operations, marketing, hiring, people and project management, etc. Unlike the doer, there are some folks who love the “people and paperwork” thing. They’d be happy to let people who love the work of the business actually do that work while they take care of the p & p duties.
Few people relish both roles, but they do exist. No matter which of these roles is your favorite, you need to figure out where you want the business to end up. Once you figure that out, the path to growing it (or not) will be far more clear.
Thinking about growth
At this point, you might be wondering what your options are. Only you know which one’s right for you, but you’ve got to figure it out. Really, it’s about where you want the business to go combined with where you want to go.
Some would like to do the work until they retire, close it down and walk away. Some would like to grow the business and sell it. Others might want to grow it and pass (or sell) it to their family. You might be looking at some combination of those things.
One thing I like to ask owners is to describe how they see their life 10 or 20 years down the road. Does the business need you around at least a few days a week? How does your team (and your customers) feel if you disappear for months? Does the business disappear if you disappear? Does it not even skip a beat? Is there work that you do now that you’d rather not do because it takes you away from work you love?
It helps to have an idea which of these scenarios you want to live because the scenario drives what your growth plan looks like and what you as an owner and manager need to focus on.
If you want to be the person who disappears for months and has a business at home that never misses you, then your growth plan needs to include (if not focus on) replacing each of your roles. Most of you wear multiple hats. Start by giving away the hats you can delegate easily. Automate a hat or two if you can.
The big job is replacing you. While there are people qualified to run your business, they probably don’t have the “you” brain. They’ll make decisions based on their experience, values, ethics, etc. If that’s OK, then you’re in great shape once you find and train that person.
However, most small business owners aren’t OK with that, no matter how great their hire. Why? They want the decisions to be made the way they would make them. Be patient selecting and training this person so you can sleep easy later.
If you want to stay, do the “real work” & avoid the p and p tasks, it’s time to find someone you can build trust in so that they can take on all those operational tasks. Focus on what allows you to step away from the things that annoy and frustrate you and the things you put off. Procrastination is a great way to identify what you hate to do. This person may need to take on partner status, which is OK for the right person.
Photo by Atli Harðarson