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Are you running your business, or is your business running you?
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know and coach feel completely stuck in their work. They may have started their company to expand their personal, professional, and financial freedom, but as time went on and their business grew, they found themselves increasingly bogged down by the mundane, often irritating tasks associated with daily operations.
Rather than spending their days creating and innovating, they’re instead stuck answering emails, following up on projects, and putting out fires—hardly the expansive future they imagined!
But what’s an entrepreneur to do? If you’re running a successful business, you’ve clearly already hired people to fulfill the critical roles in your company, like sales, marketing, and finance.
What most people do—and it’s exactly what NOT to do—is “borrow” help from other teams. They cobble together support from whomever seems available and most qualified, forcing them to juggle between these extra tasks and their regular day-to-day responsibilities.
I’ve worked with team members like this, and I have to tell you, it’s incredibly challenging for them. They feel like they’re not giving their best to either you or their job, which negatively impacts their confidence and motivation. It’s an inconsistent and unpredictable experience for both of you.
Want to improve the way you do teamwork? Download your free copy of The Team Success Handbook by Entrepreneurial Team Strategist Shannon Waller.
The better solution is to create a team specifically responsible for leveraging you. This is your Strategic Support Team, and it’s the secret to supporting the best of your creativity, the growth of your company, and ultimately, the future you’ve always dreamed of.
And you can do it in three easy steps.
Decide You’re Worth The Investment
There’s a profound shift that happens when you hire someone to leverage you and decide you’re worth that investment. With your mental time and energy freed up, you’ll be able to move closer to the center of what it is you love to do—which, incidentally, is also what allows you to make the greatest impact.
Now, committing to change will feel scary. It’ll feel completely indulgent. But it’s also necessary.
Your job as an entrepreneur isn’t to micromanage, organize, or administrate. It’s to envision a bigger and better future for your company. It’s to build relationships, make connections, and strategize. If you’re too focused on the minutiae of everyday issues, you’ll never be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture—or envision a better one.
The only way to determine where you need help and where you’d like to expand is to inventory your activities, dividing them into three categories: Irritating, Just Okay, and Love.
These are things you’d love to never do again—tasks you’re tired of handling, problems you’re tired of solving, issues you’re tired of addressing.
For these activities, it’s time to delegate. There will always be someone who loves and excels at doing the things you hate, so it’s just a matter of letting go, both literally and psychologically. It’s recognizing that you not only can’t control everything, but shouldn’t.
b. Just Okay
Some of your activities will be “just okay.” You don’t hate doing them, and you’ve probably assumed you have to do them for the rest of your career, but you certainly don’t get excited about them.
For these tasks, look to automate. (And if that fails, delegate again.) You’d be amazed at how many ideas bubble to the surface when you ask yourself, “What would have to happen to get this off my plate? What holes do I need to fill?”
This is the fun bit. This is where you get to decide how you want to spend your time. What excites you? What energizes you? What do you want to do more of?
For these activities, look to expand. The more time you have to think, to be creative, to explore what you love and do best, the more your business will grow.
Build Your Team
One of the most effective approaches for building your personal support team comes from Dave Logan, co-author of Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. In the highly effective “Stage 4” tribe or team, people establish networks, especially triads, based on shared values to pull ahead of the competition.
You can take advantage of this powerful strategy by building your own triad based on your unique talents and needs.
For example, I hate scheduling. It stresses me out and I’m terrible at it. But my Strategic Assistant? She loves it. It calms her down. So in this, and in many other respects, we complement each other. Likewise, my project manager is a real problem solver. She’s very good at taking my new ideas and making them real.
When you find people who balance you, who love and excel at doing whatever you find draining or difficult, you’re freed up to make a bigger impact (and they’re happy doing jobs they love).
Now, part of this process is changing how you view your team members. We often put people on the cost side of our financials, but what we need to do is put them on the investment side, because with investments, we’re looking for growth. We’re looking for the biggest return possible, and we achieve this by giving them our care and attention.
But costs? Costs we minimize. And I think it goes without saying that there’s no human being on the planet who enjoys being minimized. It’s not a fun way to be treated, nor is it a productive one. Treat people like costs and you’ll get very little in return, but treat them like investments, and they’ll reward you, happily I might add, with infinite value … and their best selves.
You can’t afford not to.
It’s amazing how much bigger your future will be when you decide you’re worth investing in. You’ve already done an amazing job of leveraging your company. Now it’s time to leverage yourself!