Letting Go – The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

Having worked for many a small business in my day, and being an entrepreneur myself now, I have had the unique opportunity to see businesses grow and how the entrepreneur grows (or doesn’t grow) with it.  It’s a great example of a leadership lid because the business will grow to a certain point and then will either slow down drastically and stagnate completely.  It is not a factor of the economy or industry changes, but more a matter of the lack of changes internally.  The entrepreneur simply doesn’t grow his leadership enough to be ready for how the organization needs to change to accommodate corporate growth.

Wearing Many Hats is Heavy

letting go - too many hatsYou see, when you first start out you are quite often the only person doing anything or at the very least everything revolves around you.  It was your vision and your initiative that got things off the ground, so naturally you feel that you and you alone are responsible for success or failure of this venture.  And so you are the executive management, the accounting department, the sales manager, the fulfillment department, the development head, and perhaps even the janitor.

And then success happens.  Sales are up!  Customers can’t get enough of you.  You have to add staff, hire or appoint department managers, expand inventory, install processes, get more office space, create new products, adopt more formalized accounting procedures, and more!  You are spending more and more time in the office, being pulled in multiple directions, and things are bottle-necking because they have to wait for you to come up with a solution or put your stamp of approval on one.

THIS is the crisis moment.  It becomes a crisis because you haven’t yet learned to let go.  When the company has grown to the point where things are waiting on you, then it is time to decide what things you want to keep control of and what you want to let go of and trust others to carry the load.  When you can let go of things and trust the people you have hired to pick up the slack, then the pace of the business can continue and you can grow.  If you insist on keeping your finger in every pie, most of the pies will not come out right.  In addition, you will become weary and burned out and then……another small business bites the dust.

The Simple Solution – 80/20

Apply the 80/20 rule here.  Eighty percent of your efforts should be directed towards the 20 percent of things that you and only you can do; such as visioning for the future and preparing your legacy.  Look at what you do now and think about the things you do daily and weekly.  If someone else in the company can do it at least 80 percent as good as you, let it go.  If it does not focus on the primary thrust of your business, let it go and let someone else do it.  This is an important step in your leadership growth, not only because of what it does for you, but also what it does for your business and most importantly for the people in your business.  It allows others to grow and become more engaged and take responsibility for the profitability of your business.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. “
Teddy Roosevelt

Half the Battle

Easy, right?  Not even close!  You will likely resist this vehemently.  After all, how can you let any of this go and let someone else do it!  You created this, YOU had the vision, and how can anyone else know enough to do it the way you want it done!

We will talk about THAT tomorrow.

Action Plan

  • Apply the 80/20 rule.  What are the 20 percent of things that you and only you can truly do?  Be honest with yourself on this.
  • Make a list of what you are going to let go of.  Next to each one, write the name of the person to whom you will release it.