You’re the first one there in the morning and the last to leave at night. You work 60 hours a week without complaining, but you wish your employees would put in half of the effort you do.
Your commitment to growing your business has produced results, yet finding the right employees, managing your finances and satisfying your growing list of customers, is beginning to become an almost unmanageable task. In fact, the more successful you become, the longer your to-do list seems to grow. Let’s face it, if your sales doubled tomorrow, you’d be in trouble.
You can’t remember the last time you took a vacation without worrying about your business the entire time. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you took a vacation at all!
There has to be a better way!
If this describes your situation, you’re at a critical juncture in the development of your business. We call this the “glass ceiling". It’s the sticking point that all good businesses eventually run into. With your present structure you don’t have much room to grow and any growth that you do achieve will come at your personal expense. Yet grow you must. It’s an essential part of the business cycle.
There is a solution, and though it may be difficult to envision right now, your potential has never been greater. So take heart. You are sitting on the doorstep of a whole new level of business.
Taking your business to new heights does not require more and more work from you. It requires different work from you. Imagine building a skyscraper for a moment. The height it can be built is limited by the significance of the foundation it is built upon. In other words, the more substantial the foundation, the higher it can be built.
Your business works the same way. The potential growth of your business is limited by the foundation it is built upon. Right now, you are that foundation, so the growth of your business is limited by your ability to work hard and fast. If you want to increase your potential you need a more substantial foundation than any one person can provide.
The solution many business owners turn to is the addition of more people. It seems logical… more hands to share the work… but this approach is really a bit of an illusion. Think about your own company. What would happen to your business if one or more of your key people left? How quickly and easily could you recover? The problem with basing a business on people is that they can leave, and in so doing, take an essential part of your business with them. Of course people are vitally important, but the real solution is to build a strong and independent foundation based on systems, rather than people. Then, go out and find creative, motivated, intelligent people to run those systems.
Systems are really not a foreign concept. In fact, they are everywhere. Your body makes a good example. It has a respiratory system, a digestive system, a circulatory system, and so forth, all working interdependently to run your body. If you tried to consciously manage them all you wouldn’t make it to the water cooler. And yet that’s how most of us try to run our businesses. We run ourselves ragged trying to consciously manage the whole thing. But no matter how smart, fast, creative, or efficient you are, you can only get so far with this approach. You might get farther than some, but eventually, you’ll run into that glass ceiling. It’s inevitable.
In early 2000, a manufacturing company came to us looking for help. The owner had been trying to run his business his way for the previous 10 years. Sales were stagnant at around $300,000, money was tight, and his family was frustrated at never seeing him. Over the next couple of years, we helped him implement systems to track and control his sales, manage his employees, control his finances, and streamline his production processes. Last year his revenues passed $1.2 million (and climbing), but more importantly, he now has control over his business and his life. This is the power of a business foundation based upon solid systems.
The job description of the CEO-business owner, should read “strategic leader".
The funny thing is, even though most business owners would agree with this, they simply can’t find the time to get around to that type of work. It’s too low on the priority list. But if your goal is to take your business to the next level, you need to take the burden of daily management off of your shoulders, and place it squarely on the business itself. Done correctly, this is the key to success and freedom.
Mark Wardell is President and Founder of Wardell Professional Development, a business consulting firm, focused on the unique needs of small/mid sized growth companies.