This post originally appeared on Optimizing for Happiness.
To run a successful business and enable it to grow, you must know how to play your strengths. While many entrepreneurs are determined to grow their business, this is not true for most business owners. Instead, the average business owner gets stuck working in the business, rather than working on it.
Business growth happens in many different ways, and the trick is to fathom what the best route is for your business. For instance,Â growth isn’t necessarily about increasing the size of your team or even revenue insteadÂ you can grow different skills levels of your existing team members.Â Focus on getting better clients, or perhaps just look at how you can provide better results for your customers.
The Trap of Micromanagement
One of the biggest challenges for any business owner is accepting that they are not the onlyÂ competent person in the team. Learning how to delegate tasks comes next.
A common issue is that people think they can do most things better than anyone else. It may be true for some things, but you can’t be proficient at everything. The truth is that whenever you spend time doing things that other people could be doing, you are losing the opportunity to spend valuable time improving and growing the business.
Focus on on the big picture and don't get lost in the details. And that sometimes even means that you need to step away from everything and play a good round of Mario Kart with your employees.
If you hire the right people, you will find yourself surrounded by team members who excel at doing things and tackling tasks that are:
- either too mundane for you to waste time on, or
- out of your scope of excellence.
You cannot be expected to excel at everything in business. And if you get bogged down with details other people could handle quite competently, you’re not going to be an effective or efficient business leader.
If you think in financial or economic terms, the founder of any business is the most expensive person in the team, because time for him or her is limited. So instead of spending time in the office micromanaging your employees, the simplest solution is to hire other people to work in your business. This way, you can start working on the business.
Responsibilities of a Business Leader
Having established that, to grow your business you need to work on it rather than in it, what exactly should you do?
In essence, the responsibilities of any business leader include the ability to:
- Be a visionary
- Build relationships
- Ensure the team is happy
- Define quality standards for the business
Be a Troubleshooter
In order to grow your business, you need to find areas that need improvement. Troubleshooting involves identifying and dealing with problems and faults. But in the spirit of working on rather than in your business, your role is to spot the problems and then have other team members work out solutions by guiding them into the right direction.
Stuck in the midst of the Omani desert. A good leader always needs to look ahead and anticipate and prevent problems before they can happen.
You should also ensure that you, as the business leader, are accessible. Allow people to reach out to you when problems arise, or preferably when they anticipate probable problems. If you build a business culture where this is rewarded and not punished, your team will become an effective part of the troubleshooting process.
Be a Visionary
A good business leader is able to look forward and see the bigger picture. As a business visionary, you need to define a strategy for the future and set goals that will enable you and your team to achieve them. Show team members that you have a plan and what it is. Share your vision with them to enthuse support and recognize that you won’t be running around like a headless chicken, even if problems arise.
As the captain of your business, show your team members that you know where the business is headed and be transparent and honest about what can be expected in the future.
Remember how important it is to have all your employees included in your strategic plan. This way they will understand what they are working for (and towards). They will also realize why you make certain decisions and be in a position where they can help you make better ones.
Delegate to Minimize Dependency on You
We’ve already said that to grow a business and make it successful you need to know how to play your strengths and delegate whenever possible. Of course you have a very important role as the founder of the business and its leader, but nobody should ever be indispensable, not even the founder. If everything has to go via you, or be approved by you, this will become a liability, and at some point you will become the bottleneck. Instead, you need to make sure that the business will continue to operate and function efficiently, even when you’re away.
It might seem inconceivable at first, but you need to enable people to take the right decisions based on the vision you have set. If you don’t, you’re going to find that you won’t ever be able to go on holiday, or even take time off.
Build Healthy Relationships
It is true that most businesses depend on people, and not just the people who work there. It all comes down to connections and relationships between individuals. Those who know and trust you, and value the products or services you provide, will recommend you to other people, or bring in new business themselves.
Being out of the office and connecting with strangers on holidays is probably the best way to build new relationships, which then eventually might turn into future business opportunities.
So instead of trying to micromanage the people within your business, get out and meet new people. Work on building solid, honest relationships - you’ll find it works wonders for both sales and acquisition of new talent for the business.
Make Sure Everyone is Happy
For most people, business is about making money. For us at Mobile Jazz, while we do need to make money, the most important factor is that everyone in the team is happy. We know that happy employees are the ones who become engaged in the business, and who do the best work. This translates to happy customers who will then be much more likely to recommend your business to friends and other people the do business with.
So always have an open ear, and listen to what your employees, clients, and customers have to say. You’ll soon find out if somebody isn’t happy!
Define Quality Standards for Your Business
Ultimately your reputation and the reputation of your business will be derived from the quality standards and culture you define for the company. This will impact on the way your clients and customers perceive you. For this reason, you need to put some effort into thinking through what the highest quality standards will be. Having done this, you need to communicate this continuously with your team until it becomes reality.
A coffee tasting workshop at the Mobile Jazz office in Barcelona to demonstrate the importance of perfection and the highest quality standards in the service we provide to our customers.
While the quality standards set by business owners will differ, you should include issues like how to communicate with customers and how to be proactive and responsible. You should also include standards that relate to mundane matters like cleanliness and tidiness within the office environment.
The Ultimate Lesson
Perhaps the most valuable lesson in terms of working on, rather than in your business is the need to trust your employees and give them key responsibilities.
To become a great (rather than just good) business leader, you need to realize that delegating jobs is not making employees do what you don’t want to do. What's really important is the trust factor. Delegation and responsibility go hand-in-hand and there should be no need for you to constantly control and check on the people who work for (or with) you. At the end of the day, this is the only way to achieve the freedom and time required to be a real leader who will grow the business and make it successful.
This post originally appeared on Optimizing for Happiness.