Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a billion-dollar business and thousands of employees, or under a million dollars in revenue and 10 employees, you’ve had to perform multiple functions as your business grows. Your role has stretched from tactical to strategic and spanned multiple functions and responsibilities. But even as you successfully maneuver these challenges and the business grows, you must evolve from being a Jack or Jill of All Trades, performing functions that exceed your capability and capacity; to becoming a Master of One, performing work that aligns with your purpose and expertise.
This is the challenge for many entrepreneurs who retain such close control over their businesses that they don’t benefit from others’ expertise and in the process limit the company’s growth prospects. Some find it difficult to trust that others will make better decisions in critical areas. But it is crucial to transfer accountability to others who will take on responsibility for aspects of business growth.
Jack of All Trades
There are several signs when it’s time for you as an entrepreneur to let go of one of your roles or trades.
- When someone else can perform it faster than you with better results.
- When you become frustrated or bored with the process.
- When more important work requires your time.
- When you may recognize that something isn’t working but aren’t necessarily sure what to do about it.
And when others suggest that you hire out a role or trade, you make the following excuses.
- “No one can do it like me.”
- “I can do it faster because I’m familiar with it.”
- “I can’t afford to pay someone to do this.”
- “It will take too long for someone else to understand the business.”
- “Someone else will try to change our process. They won’t appreciate the value we add by doing it this way.”
- “It just doesn’t take that much effort.”
What Do You Do?
One of your most valuable experiences is understanding how other companies operate. If your professional work experience consists primarily of running your own business, this is an opportunity to learn different methods, to bring in subject matter experts and to understand the typical challenges organizations face as they evolve. You can take several important steps.
- Hire professionals to perform the most important work in your company. That means making an investment to have the best people leading the delivery of the core products and services you provide. Similarly, invest in professionals with experience in critical supporting areas such as financial management, sales and marketing and human capital.
- Purchase fractional or shared services from an independent contractor. In this gig economy, there is an abundance of professionals who are interested in providing their experience to multiple companies without a long-term commitment to one.
- Identify trusted advisers or consultants to provide input on challenging issues. For the time you spend figuring out a new and thorny issue, you will save time and money by working with an experienced professional who will help you address it effectively.
- Form an alliance with other entrepreneurs who have a similar business model but may work in a different market or have a complimentary business in the same market. Establish an agreement to meet regularly, present business problems to the group for discussion, maintain confidentiality and hold each other accountable for taking action.
This will provide an opportunity for you to step back and gain a different perspective on how your processes operate because you’re no longer embedded in them. You’ll gain a thorough evaluation and understanding of the options and implications for your business to accomplish its objectives.
Master of One
As you grow your business, remember why you started it in the first place. Did you have a passion for the product or service, for entrepreneurship, for solving a problem or meeting the needs of a particular customer base? This helps you to understand how your role should evolve. Whether you continue as the CEO, or the chief technology officer, chief visionary leader or chief stockholder, master your one role that ensures the success of the company.