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Why (Productively) Giving Up Control is Best for Your Business

Now look here. I’m not saying you need to go into La-La Land about what’s going on with your business. I’m saying that nothing good, or lasting, or big ever happens with only one person’s involvement. It just doesn’t. How would that benefit your clients? Holdups in delivery, home or health issues, billing disputes, and time restrictions are all part of life, and if you are the lifeblood of your business, you only get paid when you work effectively. A hold up is never good for your reputation, am I right?

At some point, you’re gonna have to share. This blog addresses how to effectively share your responsibility, vision, risk, and reward, and not get burned in the end. Stephen King talks about good writers needing to be willing to kill their darlings in order to make the story better. He’s referring to the parts of a story that we, as writers, fall in love with. We craft them, we create them. We birth them. Therefore, they are our babies and our darlings. If you’re worth your salt as a business owner, you’ve done the same thing with your business ideas and methods.

But it’s MY idea!

Yeah, I get it. You birthed the greatest spin on … whatever it is that your company does better than anyone else in your industry. Congrats. Here’s your sash/badge/tiara: GOOD JOB UP TO THIS POINT! Now, let’s get to work. If you’re like me, you have a list of reasons to keep your methods, ideas, and processes to yourself. Here were my top two:

  1. People will steal my idea! Maybe that’s already happened in the past. Or you’re sure that if you let people know how you experienced your level of success, they will take it and become your competition. And it can, sometimes. It happens. But more often, you’ve shared knowledge and become a resource for what most people can’t do on their own anyway. It’s why you are experiencing success and they had to borrow your stuff in the first place. It evens out, believe me.
  2. If I want something done right, I gotta do it myself. Sound familiar? Sure it does. But it’s also a lonely space for any creative, collaborative genius zone. Obviously, you’ve gotten to where you are now with the talent and creativity and drive that’s all about you. (Again, refer to your sash.) But from here on out, there’s a huge risk of you becoming the same micromanaging jerk of a boss that you hated when you worked for someone else. Don’t do that to your clients or your team. Share that spotlight every chance you get.

The truth is, our reasons for keeping our methods to ourselves are all lumped into this uncomfortable truth: Ego – Our ego is the hidden control button that keeps things small. If you’re shaking your head or rolling your eyes, that’s the ego I’m talking about. Take a look at why you really need to keep your success a secret from those who want to help you, use your services, or cheer you on.

The Other Side of Ego

On the other side of Ego is collaboration. If you want to get the word out about how great your company is, you need help. And that’s what it comes down to. WE ALL NEED HELP. Unless you are planning on being a solopreneur or an independent contractor who wants your success to stay in your neighborhood, expansion had better be on your horizon. And that takes help in a few areas:

  • Managing Time.
    • There are only 24 hours in a day. If you are doing well, then demand is going to outgrow your supply of time. Duplicating your time is the only way to keep up with demand.
  • Driving Sales.
    • You may be the rainmaker and the face of the company, but see above about only having so many hours in a day. If you are doing everything, you can EITHER be connecting with clients and closing sales, OR doing the actual work that they paid you for.
  • Improving Processes and Procedures.
    • As I say in writing, ‘My first draft is NEVER my last draft.’ And this version of your business will evolve. It just will. So refer back to your sash, quit living in the past, and know that you can either close sales, do the work, or improve processes at one time. You can’t and shouldn’t be multitasking in those areas.
  • Financial and Legal Areas.
    • Unless your business is actually in the financial and legal arena, you’re going to need a little CYA. That stands for Cover Your Assets. All it takes is one hostile client or one misunderstanding and you can be in for a long, sad journey that clogs your time with phone calls, charges, and stress.

Once you look at expansion, the How-To kicks in. Thoughts like, ‘How will I pay for help?’ and ‘How can I teach them what I know?’ should be plaguing your mind, if you’ve opened the door to this possibility. But here’s where collaboration kicks in: Productivity breeds Success.

The Genius Zone

Once you’ve realized how good it is for your business to share the wealth with those outside your friend/family/neighborhood zone, it’s time to gather your troops. That means it’s time to share. I know, money and time are an issue. They are to everyone who grew, too. You are not the exception. In fact, you are the rule of every other business owner with a ya-but, which is code for excuse, as to why you COULD have succeeded and been huge, but … (insert excuse about money and time). This is the creative zone and if you wanna move past that stuckness, read on.

Now that the ego’s out of the way, let’s talk about what ONLY you can do for your business. And there it is: The genius zone. It’s the distinct talent and passion stuff that got you where you are now. Put the sash away and let’s go here. It’s time to break down your business processes and methods into bite-sized chunks. (There’s only so far that the joke “I’m the owner AND the janitor” can go.)

  • Write down exactly what goes into your day, week, month and year.
    • Pick out the things you hate to do. Circle them in red.
    • Circle the things you LOVE to do. Circle those things in green.
    • The rest should be kind of neutral things, so stick em in blue or any ol’ color you want.

Once you’ve done this, you have a clear view of love, hate, and meh. My list can be found here. Transfer them into three sections, based on the colors. Now,

  • Take each category, one at a time, and look for tasks that if you had the money to hire out, you would. (Mine are Here.)
    • Put them in their own category.
  • Next, take a look at the stuff that, nobody else can do. The owner stuff. (Mine are also here.)
    • Put them in their own category.
  • Lastly, take a look at the tasks that you love to do and don’t want to hire out. The passionate, fun, exciting stuff. (Mine are here.)
    • Put them in their own category.

There should be very little at the end of this process that is left out. As the owner, figure out the rest and give them a slot.

  • Lastly, take a look at the category that needs to be hired out. Because, let’s face it, it’s time. This doesn’t mean you need to get a loan or dive into lines of credit just yet. But it’s time to get creative.
    • Look through the list of tasks that can be grouped into the same job description, then group them accordingly.
    • What’s left? What, from the other lists, can you let go of to roll into what’s left to sweeten a deal or job description?

This is the list of what gets taken off your plate. And celebrate! That’s the good news! There are interns and entry level and part-time enthusiasts who want to excel in exactly what you are offering. Advertising is cheap or free, and you’d be surprised who shows up with the talent and drive to just be given a shot.

Think of apprenticeship positions and mentoring roles you can open your doors to so they gain experience and you gain much needed time away from the janitor-like jobs that wastes your valuable genius zone time.

So now you know why it’s so important to effectively share your responsibility, vision, risk, and reward, and not get burned in the end. You also have my take on how to divvy them up. I haven’t given you all the answers yet, mostly because I don’t have all of your answers. Ultimately, you’re going to find what works best for your style.

My next blog addresses what happens after you make “the list”. Do you reaallllyy have more time than money? (Hint: You better not, or you’re doing business wrong!) We will chat about crafting your support system, subcontracting vs hiring, and what I’ve learned so far, in a nutshell. In the meantime, get started on your lists, and drop me a line to let me know where are you in this process. I’d love to see your lists!