As an owner I am often the biggest bottleneck in our business. I have the best of intentions when I volunteer to help someone or get involved in the sales process because I received a direct referral.
Unfortunately I am not best suited to do those things any longer. I am sure I am like a lot of other small businesses, hamstrung by the owner and where getting things done goes to die.
Delegation is hard. Giving up responsibility, or trusting others, or developing the team long term so you can get the heck out the way… is hard.
It is so much easier sometimes to just do it yourself.
“The other person can’t possibly do it as well as I can.”
This is pride. It can sometimes be true that you are the best for the job, but often you probably aren’t.
This can critically affect a small business and its ability to grow.
When you are a small business owner it can be difficult at first trust your team.
I started the firm and obviously had no idea how to be an owner, I just knew I had to get the work done.
In the very beginning I just kept thinking…. I need help. And I would even say it that way, ‘I need help’. I need help to get MY work done, not OUR work done. It was more, you do THIS step and I’ll finish it.
Over time, we grew and developed, we hired people and still, a lot of times, I was the person or the face of the interaction with the client, so the client’s main point of contact was me.
All questions the client had went to me, all employee questions went to me.
Those things over time, well… you just can’t handle it anymore. There just isn’t enough time in the day, you can’t service everyone you want to serve the way you want to serve them, you can’t grow or scale the way you want to grow.
It takes hiring people that you know are qualified to do the job. In the beginning you kind of hire out of desperation. Your budget is limited, and you don’t even know what you need, you don’t even have systems in place yet.
But over time we have done a really good job of finding super talented people that CAN do the job.
From there it’s identifying people that you know you can trust completely, because you are giving up a responsibility. Even in the very beginning as we hired people, we did our best to transition client relationships from me.
I would copy the manager on the job saying, “Hey Jen, can you send this to Steve.” Or if Steve calls in and asks for me, I just give the call right over to Jen and say, “Jen, call Steve back and tell him I told you to give him a call.”
I may even give her the answer that she now goes and gives to Steve so that the next time Steve has a question he may just go ask Jen.
And I don’t even care if Jen gets the question and doesn’t know the answer, comes to me, gets the answer and goes back to Steve. I WANT Jen to have the answer, obviously that’s ideal, but we want the team to use all of the resource available and I’m one of those.
Over time, Steve has a relationship with Jen, and that was the goal early on, for clients to develop a relationship with our team.
That did take a long time to do and I still take relationships back and can sometimes do a poor job of telling Jen to answer the call instead of me just doing it myself.
And I do still have client relationships to this day, and I want to have those relationships, but their day-to-day contact can’t be me. If they want to be best served it can’t be me.
I do want them to be exceptionally served, but unfortunately my time is so spread out I can’t exceptionally serve them the way that I want to.
That takes me being better about delegation and inclusion when a question comes up and making sure that I don’t have a one-off phone call with the client that doesn’t include the manager or the staff.
From there it was, I have GOT to have leaders and other people that I can trust, but also know that they are going to own the work and the process.
Once those people have developed over time and my trust has been built up it’s easy for me to relinquish that because I know if any of those leaders have an issue, they will raise their hand and come back and ask questions of the leadership team or me.
They’re also going to hold me accountable. This whole thing is a two-way street of accountability.
I’m holding them accountable to do their job, and they’re holding me accountable to do my job and to support them. No one is on an island.
But I think that’s where it starts, you have to develop that trust and rapport and then hold them accountable.
By doing this I have established relationships between the clients and the staff while simultaneously shifting from being their accountant to the owner of a business that happens to be an accounting firm.
This game changing shift has taken me from managing clients to managing a team of people internally so that they can go manage clients.
One of the things that must happen as you start to trust and delegate and release is building up to the point where you can finally say, “I think I’ve got something here”, and you can finally start to take a step back from what you are trying to develop your leader to take on.
That’s a really important thing that an owner has to be able to do, to the extent that if they aren’t willing to do that, none of this matters, because you’ll never be able to bring a team of people around you to help you get to that next step.
By improving your delegation you can get to be the owner you dreamed of being when you decided to go out on your journey to be a business owner.
If you can’t tell, we like helping business owners get one step better everyday. If you ever want to learn more about what we do and how we might be able to help your business please reach out. We would love to chat!