The Everyday Business Series: Fear of Letting Go
In answer to our Impono Followers asking for guidance on "every-day matters," we created "The Every-Business Series," an intense-read series based on 1-2 Points and created specifically for Impono's followers. Keep your feedback coming so we can be sure to continue addressing your questions!!
As your business launches and reaches a steady early-stage state of operations, you (as a Founder and/or Small Business Owner) will be involved in all details and nuances. You don't have a full staff or team as you start out, nor can you justify paying full time salaries and benefits for roles that do not yet have full-time capacity.
However, as you begin to grow, it becomes impractical for you to be involved in all details and wear as many hats as you will in the early days. Every decision, every motion, every movement, every customer interaction, every shipment, every service point... scale is change, whether you like it or not, and you will destroy your business if you cannot keep up with your business's needs during growth.
Quite simply: as your business grows, you hire those better at the depth than you are, and rightly so. And with that change often comes the fear of letting go.
The Attraction of "Having" is Hard to Break
Many struggle with letting go because by definition it creates distance from the very work you did in order to launch your business, and that distance means a lot of unknowns.
Letting go means you are handing things off to others. Letting go means you have to take the time and energy to hire the right people, delegate to the right people, add a little structure, lead your business differently. Letting go means you need to have trust in someone else's ability to do a higher quality of work than you did in the earlier days. Letting go in times of growth means you have bigger and fewer accountabilities at the same time.
Most Founders and Small Business bring us on board because they realize they should make changes, yet they don't know how to change OR they have gotten into such a routine of doing it all, that they cannot see a way to delegate appropriately even if they wanted to. We call this The Attraction of Having, and it's hard to break.
The attraction of having can quickly perpetuate a fear of letting go:
"I have so much to do, I can't change my operating model now."
"I have so many customers I brought on myself, what if they don't feel comfortable without me?"
"I have an efficient process with month-end close; training others on that will take too much time..."
"I have full understanding of my business-- I cannot simply divide all of that up and hand it off to others, what if they make a mistake? It's my business-- I don't make mistakes."
We agree with all of those statements and have consistently proven to all our client partners that the process of letting go usually means gaining more accountability with fewer responsibilities (that's where the "letting go" part is). Other, and often more expert, resources now become responsible for doing many activities and tasks you used to do, yet you still have overall accountability for your business. When you reframe your business and learn to let go, you actually have more room to evolve into a leader as you drop your tactical day-to-day detailed management.
Tips for Letting Go: It's Less About the Activity and More About the Mindset
It's easy for us to say what you should do, but let's take it one step further and give you something to try as you contemplate letting go (and this could work while planning a family holiday or a party, too):
1) Compartmentalize what you do into Big, Medium, Small activities. Critically think about why they have that magnitude and what would be at risk if you weren't the one doing them. For example:
Would the Small things become Big things? If not, you need to let go.
Would the Medium things become Small things? If so, you need to let go.
Would the Big things remain Big things? If so, you may want to keep them or let go.
2) Select only three activities that you must maintain based on your role (example: closing a deal with accounts, attending Marketing Events, greeting guests at the door...). You may only select three.
3) Write down the primary skills and behavior required for the remaining activities.
4) Create a plan to acquire people to be responsible for those remaining activities.
This exercise isn't a business plan. It's not meant to be a formal resource plan. It shouldn't be something you put in front of an investor if you are planning a raise, and you probably don't want to use it to convince a friend to start working for you.
What this exercise does is it starts the process for letting go-- how you can let go, begin to think of your role, your place and your activities in your business differently.
We know that launching a new or transforming an existing organization isn't simple, but it can be easier with the right advisors and doers. If you have additional questions about this topic or how it can impact your business, contact us. Let's see what we can do for you.
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