At home, I love to relax in my garden – but much as I might like the idea of being a keen gardener, maintaining and improving my garden, for years being a business owner meant I forever seemed “too busy” to actually do any gardening.
Thus my garden grew overgrown and wild, and every day I’d come home and instead of relaxing in my garden – I’d look at the increasingly overgrown garden and instead get stressed out as to how it was getting more and more out of control.
I know the garden needs to be worked on and worked on regularly, and I should be the one doing that work.
Then, a revelation occurred. A friend suggested a local gardener to me who worked for a very reasonable rate. The gardener came round once per week and within a few weeks, had tamed the garden into something that didn’t resemble the Brazilian Rain Forest. By that summer I had a lovely garden I could relax in again. Something else happened. Instead of beating myself up over the fact that I “should” have been doing the gardening myself, I came to realize that I only had so many hours in the day and right now, my focus was not on being a gardener.
With that lesson in mind, it’s interesting how many times I see Small Business IT owners who try to do everything in their business themselves. They man the Helpdesk, they do their own marketing, they handle the billing, they look after the administration, they compile the financial reports, and much, much more besides. Much more than they can fit into a standard working day, and typically, much more than they can fit into an extended working day and weekend too.
Even more interestingly, when I speak to SMB IT owners and ask them why they do all these jobs, the answer is very rarely “because I enjoy it”. It’s typically because when they started out the job needed doing and they were the only one available to do it.
It never occurs to them to ask for help.
Moving on, when I ask these same SMB IT business owners what their plans are for the business, the answer they invariably give is “growth”. They want to win more clients, take on new staff and increase their profits.
When I ask them what is getting in the way of achieving these growth goals, the answer is nearly always the same – “lack of time”.
You can see where this heading can’t you?
The goal is to grow the business, and the only person who can achieve that is the business owner.
The business owner can’t spend the time growing the business because he is spending too much time doing a load of jobs he feels he should be doing.
As a SMB IT business owner, if I said to you that you needed to make a choice between concentrating on the tasks that really enable you to grow your business, or continuing to do the tasks that you felt you “should” be doing but in reality could easily be delegated or outsourced – which would you choose?
If you answered anything other than the growth tasks, chances are you’re not actually committed to growth at all, because deep down you know that continuing to do the same jobs you’ve always done is something you’re comfortable with.
As the holiday season approaches us, take the time out to sit back and reflect upon the various roles you undertake within your business. How much administration do you do? Do you spend all your time answering the telephone? Are you continuously researching technical issues?
Then think about how you might outsource just one of those tasks to somebody else in the New Year.
Then when you return to the office in the January, make the very first job you do organizing for somebody else to take over that role. Hire a part-time book-keeper, or an administrative assistant. Start working with a Virtual Personal Assistant, or begin working with a Call Answering Service.
If you think you can’t afford to outsource these jobs, consider how much you charge yourself out per hour., $50, $100, $150? Whatever it is, the people you outsource this work to will charge a lot less, and they’ll probably do the job a lot quicker too. You can spend the time you’ve saved on these jobs to instead do chargeable work, and make a tidy profit to boot.
If you think that somebody else can’t do that job as well as you, then I’ve a horrible truth for you to digest. Not only can they do the job as well as you, they’ll actually do it *better* than you.
It doesn’t matter what stage of your business growth you’re at – sooner or later you need to understand that you can’t do everything yourself. The sooner you accept that fact and start concentrating on the really important tasks, the faster you’re likely to be successful.
Richard Tubb is an IT Business Consultant who works with ambitious IT companies who want to grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way.