In an episode of their Kick Some ADHD podcast last year, Dana Rayburn and our own David G. Johnson talked about the importance of delegating. It’s a huge stumbling block for most entrepreneurs and small business owners. Living with ADHD definitely exacerbates the issue – but it’s not the cause.
It’s an entrepreneur’s problem, typified by statements like “It’s just faster if I do it myself.” Which is something I hear a lot. And my response usually is, “is it?” I can say that, because I’ve both suffered from the perfectionist (and economical) drive to do it all myself. And I’ve dealt with supervisors who would suddenly offload – or try to – a huge project with an unrealistic deadline that they’ve suddenly run into.
And because of my own personal proclivities, I usually all but kill myself to try and relieve their emergency. But that’s a discussion for a later time.
As David says later in the podcast, “There’s only so many hours you can work in a day, or a week or whatever… You’ve got to be able to hand off the things that keep you from delivering your best value.”
I’m going to repeat that last phrase again… “delivering your best value.” You see, I think that most entrepreneurs and small business owners really do believe that they’re responsible for giving the best value to their customers. But at the same time, they often lack the perspective to see that they’re unable to do that. They’re spreading themselves too thin, trying to do too many things – and things they are not best at.
Expect the Ineffectual
Next week, I’ll talk about the specter of opportunity cost – and the cost of lost opportunities. But today, let’s look at an old analogy from John Maxwell. Or maybe it was Warren Buffet. Doesn’t matter. What’s important is the lesson, not the teacher.
Suppose that your earning potential is $100 per hour. You’re working from your home office and go to refill your coffee mug. Suddenly, you notice that the lawn is getting a little too high. Or the laundry basket is starting to overflow. Or those dishes need to be done. Maybe it would be good to run the vacuum…
Now for me, those tasks have the added “advantage” of being easy procrastination techniques that make it appear as if I’m being productive, while I’m just avoiding the work I should be doing. But that’s not why I’m bringing them up.
Now, if I spend an hour washing the dishes or vacuuming the house, that’s $100 of earning potential I’ve just thrown to the wind. Or – I can hire a maid to come in for 3 hours, pay them $75 and focus on the things that make me and my company money.
Now, instead of dishes, suppose I’m spending time tweaking the design on my website or posting social media posts. Or maybe minor accounting and spreadsheet work – things I am not very good at, which inevitably take more time to do than writing – which I am damn good at – and could outsource to a capable, qualified professional for a lot less than my hourly rate.
You’d balk at spending $100 an hour for a landscaper to mow your lawn – but you’ll spend 2 hours doing it, essentially wasting $200. That’s kind of the definition of “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
“Investments” Past the Point of no Return
As much as it pains us to delegate, outsource, let anyone else touch our stuff – and maybe screw it up – we have to look at it as an investment. We have to look at a cost-benefit analysis. I’ve discussed it many times before, but it’s relevant to revisit the Pareto Principle here.
The Pareto Principle, simply stated is this – 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. So which parts of your work are you spending the most time focusing on? Are you earning less because you’re spending too much time on things that don’t yield the greatest income?
Let’s put it this way – if your greatest skill is your ability to close potential clients and bring money into the company coffers, why would you reduce the time you have available to do that? You have an already honed skill – an advantage that cannot, so far, be replicated within your business. But, instead of closing customers, you’re spending an inordinate amount of time trying to learn a different skill. You’re struggling with a learning curve. Maybe you’re frustrated by the lack of progress from your efforts.
You’re putting off meeting with potential clients because you’re trying to get better at attracting new clients.
Of course, you’d never do that – except I see it happen every single day. Business owners put off the things they are super skilled and talented at, to focus on learning whatever the next new thing is that supposed to help their business.
Now, shiny object syndrome is a real thing – but I’m saying even proven techniques like writing and publishing a consistent content blog can be a waste of valuable time if you haven’t got the skill. And many entrepreneurs don’t.
Time is Money is Time
Let me use a simpler example. Suppose you launch your business and a large part of the daily activity is fielding incoming calls. Is it more cost effective for you to spend your $100-an-hour-value answering those calls – including the ones that will never yield customers or income?
Or would it be better to pay a secretary $20 an hour, plus benefits, to take those calls, freeing you up to create and develop the business? The only time you’re on the phone is for valuable tasks that yield $100 or more income per hour you spend on them.
Going back to the beginning of this article – there’s only so much time in the day. I’m an employee of Grow the Dream, so my hours are paid. But because I’m in California, I can work while David sleeps in Florida. And he can quickly prep things for me in the hours before I’m awake, so I can hit the ground running.
By using employees and freelancers in different time zones, Grow the Dream as a company is working 18-20 hours per day. David is talented and probably gets less sleep than he needs (I know I do), but he can’t consistently be working 18-20 hours per day, 5-7 days a week.
Neither can you. I don’t care how motivated and talented you are as an entrepreneur or small business owner, our bodies run out at some point. Are you limiting your success? Are you hurting yourself and your business (not to mention your significant others)?
Successful business owners leverage their time and resources.
If you want to be one, you will too.
For more than 20 years, we’ve taught small business owners how to leverage their digital marketing efforts. Ignoring “conventional wisdom” about search engine optimization, and focusing on a strategic approach has led to faster than normal success. And the rest of the world is catching up to our methods, as Google and Facebook algorithms increasingly hamstring the old approaches. I’m not going to belabor that here.
But one thing we realized as we taught is that there was a need to assist small business owners with some of the more skill-based marketing efforts. A lot of entrepreneurs who went through our courses embraced the principles! But they lacked the ability or time to execute them most effectively.
So we pivoted a bit. We began offering our clients the option to not only learn the techniques – but also help implement them. We started with developing our unique model buyer personas. Other digital marketing services have adapted or ‘borrowed’ our methods, but didn’t focus as clearly on the specifics. Our clients get extremely detailed profiles to use for targeting their ideal customers – the ones that are a win-win for the client and their customer.
Then we went one step further. We offered clients who needed it the writing and graphics services we already utilized in house. Some clients have us write their content blogs. Some have us edit their writing into a clearer, more focused presentation. They leverage our highly-skilled, capable, talented staff for their benefit.
Which is more cost-effective… Spending valuable time learning a new skill, or utilizing a team with nearly 100 years of combined experience writing compelling copy targeted at a unique audience? This isn’t calculus. By taking advantage of what we do best, those small business owners were freed up to focus on what they did best.
“Automate” by Delegating
David is fond of telling our clients that our motto is to “train our clients til we’re out of a job.” And we do try to do that. But it’s irresponsible to not consider additional options when you need skills and talents that are outside your area of expertise.
Your business is your passion. But can you explain that passion or educate people on the necessity of your product and service effectively? Passion and speaking passionately go a long way. But at some point, you need to adapt or adopt captivating, effective communication techniques – especially if you’re doing it on paper.
Your passion is evident in your voice, your body language, your enthusiasm. But is that conveyed on the page? In my experience, often it’s not.
My passion is storytelling – and conveying it on the page. Words are my stock and trade. I know how to evoke visuals, emotions and engage readers. So does Betsy Dane, our other talented senior writer. She’s also top notch when it comes to grant applications and some of the business writing I find more mundane.
I can tell you, ‘you need to write consistent, targeted content posts,’ til I’m blue in the face. But if you don’t know how, or worse, are one of those people who hold off until it’s precisely perfect, but never published… that’s not doing anyone any good.
We may not be working our way out of a job – but we do want you to have the best chance of success. If writing or editing frustrates you, you’re less likely to do it. Hiring us to fill in that gap is not only a good investment, it may be a necessary one.
In this way, you can automate the important – by letting us help your business grow.
Areas of Expertise
The best way to grow your small business is to focus on the areas of your expertise. I know that’s hard when you’re just getting started. Even if you’re not a solopreneur, everyone in your business is likely wearing multiple hats. And that’s great when you’re getting started. For some, it’s that excitement that drives them.
That’s great if you want to be a serial entrepreneur. But what if your business idea isn’t one that Microsoft or Google or Facebook is going to pay millions of dollars for? What if you don’t want to start over and over and over again? What if you do, but recognize the value in having a strong business to sell off to the highest bidder?
Whether you want to create one awesome business that serves the world and eventually offers you more freedom, or if you want to create multiple world-changing entities… You still only have so much time.
Don’t you owe it to yourself and your family to leverage the best means at your disposal? Our services aren’t for everyone. But we are the best at what we do for the people we do it for. We have market proof of growth for our customers’ businesses year over year. Proof not only of the success of our strategic approach – but also success of the content we write for our clients.
We’re so confident that we’ll give you 25 minutes free of charge with our top consultant to see the difference. Just reach out and test the waters. We’ve built our business helping small businesses expand – and we can do the same for you.
Let’s Grow the Dream together!