One of the most important entrepreneurial lessons I have learned was taught to me in 10th grade. My math teacher explained that if I moved halfway to the wall across the room and then half again followed by half again and continued the process, I would always get closer but never arrive. The battle of moving toward working on your business rather than in it is equally elusive. Until you decide to cross the line, you will never get there.
As I work with CEO after CEO, I find that each of them struggles getting to a place where they can work on rather than in their business. This leaves them closer and closer to success, but never really quite getting there.
Below you will find the top 5 obstacles and how to overcome them.
MYTH #1 – I Don’t Have Time
Time is the biggest lie we face as entrepreneurs. Either there is time being wasted or you truly are working to capacity. Most of us are wasting time somewhere. It could be on Facebook a few minutes a day or in unproductive conversations. However, if you stand in truth and keep track of your time, you will likely find at least 4-6 hours over the course of a week that you can recoup for working on your business.
On the other hand, if you are working at full capacity and have no time for anything else, you are overworked. The cost of not hiring another staff person, at least part time, is far greater than any temporary gain you are experiencing.
Risking your health is not worth the extra $2,000 per month you are saving. The sacrifice you are making on your home life because you are not present—physically or emotionally—is not worth the financial savings. Finally, the fact you have a company means you can grow the business. By not working on the business, you are actually prolonging the chaos because you are the best person to grow the company. Every minute you spend in the trenches would produce 5x the benefit in company growth if you chose to spend it differently.
As the leader, you decide where you will invest every resource you have. Your time is the most valuable resource you possess. It is worth more than money. You need to look for every opportunity you can find to make the best time investment decisions you can to produce the results you are shooting for. Remember, you did not become the CEO looking for a job.
MYTH #2 – My Team Cannot Do My Job
On the one hand, you’re right. They cannot do your job. On the other hand, your job is not doing their job. If the work you are doing most of the day looks more like what you hired someone else to do, your job is probably not getting done.
CEOs do not stock shelves, manage customer service, clean up work areas and fulfill orders as a role. Might CEOs do those things from time to time to increase morale? Yes. But, when a CEO finds themselves playing the role of utility player they must stop and ask the question, “Who is running the company?”
Your role is to strategize, plan, measure and deliver. Your role is to lead, encourage, support and resource. If you find yourself thinking, “But, I’m the best (insert laborer role here)…” then your role is to hire a better person to do that job. John Maxwell said that if someone can do your job at 80% of your quality and productivity, let them do it 100% of the time. The extra 20% you are getting is not worth the lack of growth you are experiencing.
You are not the center of the universe. You are not the only person that can sell, design or manage. If you have designed a team environment in which you are the only person that can do what you do, you have designed a system that will never grow beyond you. In other words, you are your greatest barrier to growth.
Take one day next month….just one. Plan to be gone and see what happens. You’ll be surprised what your team can do without you.
MYTH #3 – I Need to Lead by Example
This is not a complete myth. However, if it is handcuffing you to the trenches, it is an absolute myth for you.
Every job description contains some very familiar words, “and anything else we deem necessary.” Your best example is modeling a willingness. Willingness is what you expect from your employees. You do not need them to work a 16-hour day everyday; but, you may need them to be willing to from time to time. The best way to model your willingness is not to miss deadlines you have given them. If it requires a long day every so often to meet their deadline, you do it. But, modeling leadership means saving those times for when it is absolutely necessary. In other words, you also need to model how to make good time decisions so that you don’t end up having to work a 16-hour day. That is as important.
Your role as the CEO is to set the example of leadership. Leadership is about wisdom, discernment and service. There are many ways you can model these critical characteristics that do not take all of your time. Working alongside your team at their tasks will make you their friend. Investing your time to teach them wisdom, discernment and service will make you their leader. Find ways to model a willingness to do their job without making it your job.
MYTH #4 – I Cannot Afford to Hire Someone Yet
If you are honestly at full capacity and unable to take time to work on your business by planning, strategizing, measuring, delivering and team building, you cannot afford not to hire someone. Once again, there is no better person to build the business than you. You already did it once before. When you are working on writing ad copy, processing accounts receivable and taking customer service calls to resolve a $1,000 problem, you are losing time you could be spending on building partnerships that can result in $100,000 in new revenue.
When you feel you are pushing your capacity and hiring someone is slightly out of financial range, you have a cash flow issue, not a time issue. If you spent the time addressing the cash flow problem, your team will grow your business to justify the new spend. You need to be in a bank filling out a line of credit application, not in a cubical using a 10-key.
MYTH #5 – Taking Care of the Customer is the Number 1 Priority
Similar to leading by example, this myth is only a myth if it is keeping you from doing your job. If you are required to keep the customer satisfied, you will never grow bigger than the number of customers you can personally keep happy. Effectively, you are spinning plates. You are not running the company, your customers are.
The best way to keep your customers happy is to lead your team. Focus first on your core values. Most companies figure out their values and then stick them on a wall never to see them again. When you operationalize your core values, you teach your team to do what you would do given any situation. You’ve probably heard, banks do not teach tellers to spot counterfeit money by showing them counterfeit money. They teach them what real money feels and looks like so that they know a fraud regardless of when or where they see it because it is not the real thing.
Your job is to teach your team your values so that they live them out in all circumstances. You do not need to teach them how to respond in every circumstance. Then, make sure they have proper training on what you do as a company. When you teach them these two things, you buy yourself freedom and exponentially maximize yourself through your team.
Your goal is to grow a company, not work at a job. The same risks that were required to start your business will be required to grow it. Your destination will never move closer to you. You must take the risk and cross the line.