How do I grow my business if I’m bogged down in day-to-day work?
“I am a 27 year old environmental consultant. I started an environmental services firm in 2007 and work with one other partner. Things were slow at the start but have picked up considerably, to the point where we are busy all the time.
My question is, what would you recommend to someone like me, who wants to grow the company in the future and does not want to get bogged down by the day to day work. I know lots of other people who started their companies years ago and are still running around doing everything themselves, from collecting samples, to writing reports, accounting to trying to grow the business. I don’t want to end up like that, what would your advice be?”
The Harvard MBA says:
Making the transition from individual contributor to manager can be challenging. When it’s just you and your partner, you can spend close to 100% of your time on the work. But when you start to hire employees, you’ll need to invest a significant chunk of time on management…not to mention the frustrations you’ll feel because any employee won’t have the same passion and dedication that a founder does.
None the less, at some point in time, anyone who wants to build a bigger business has to bring in outsiders. I wrote about this topic on my personal blog :
Even the most dedicated entrepreneur is hard-pressed to work more than 12 hours per day.
That’s only 84 hours per week, assuming you never take a day off. And towards the end of those long days, I’ll bet our workaholic entrepreneur would only be working at 50% effectiveness–or less.
In contrast, if you simply get three reliable people to work for you 40 hours per week, that’s 120 hours of productive work, in addition to whatever you get done.
It often seems
like young entrepreneurs think that working ridiculously long hours makes them morally superior. All it really makes them is tired.
So if you have to hire, how can you ease yourself into the process? I recommend that you begin by taking a few baby steps. Start by outsourcing some of the basics to contractors. This way, you don’t have to jump into a full-time commitment.
Posting a gig on Craigslist is free, and will probably generate a ton of attention. You can also use a freelancing service like oDesk (the folks I know who’ve used it swear by it).
As a bonus, being forced to carefully specify the work will prevent you from making the mistake that many inexperienced managers make–not providing enough guidance to new hires.
It’s the same problem that bedevils great athletes who try to make the transition to coaching–you know instinctively what to do…which, paradoxically, makes it harder for you to explain to others what they should be doing (See: Jordan, Michael; Johnson, Magic). Scrappy benchwarmers may do a better job of conveying the plan to athletes that lack the preternatural gifts of a superstar.
When you hire someone for a full-time position, the temptation is to hire someone just like you, and then expect them to learn by osmosis. Alas, this rarely works. Far better to draw up a crystal-clear set of expectations. This is useful whether you’re hiring a contractor on the other side of the world, or a right-hand wo/man.
It’s not going to be easy, but if you want to grow your business beyond you and your partner, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and learn how to manage.
This entry was written by admin and posted on October 4, 2008 at 10:02 pm and filed under answer. management. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
Category: Personal Finance