Very often when you start a business you’re doing everything – producing the product/delivering the service, sorting out the invoicing, doing the marketing etc etc. You are the engine of the business – if you stop then the business stops (actually, at this point you don’t really have a business, you have a job, but that’s the subject of another article).
At this stage you spend most of your time in the engine room; occasionally you stoke up the boiler to keep it going for a while, then run up to the bridge for a glance out the window to check what’s happening and that the course is clear, then jump pack down to the engine room for some more stoking of the boiler. The only time you really think about what direction the business is going in is when you spend those few moments on the bridge.
But there comes a point where if your business is to grow then you need to get out of the engine room and get up to the bridge for much longer periods. Only when you go to the bridge and stay there will your business really start to move because you will see lots of opportunities that you can take advantage of and accelerate your business.
I use this analogy based on my time as the captain of a ship in the Navy. I used to spend a lot of time seemingly just sitting in my chair on the bridge looking out of the window. At least that’s what it looked like to my Executive Officer (my second in command) until I explained to him what I was doing. I was using him and the team to deal with the day to day stuff and that freed my mind to think about all the “what ifs” that needed some thought. By training the team up around me I was free to look to the future and determine which direction we needed to go in as a unit.
Many business owners worry about expanding their business in these turbulent times by taking on team members but these days it doesn’t have to be a long term burden because there are many flexible ways of building a “virtual team”. Today you can pretty much rent in any capability you need from virtual PAs to look after your diary, telemarketers, even online accountants to do the books for you. The one thing I would recommend you do, however, before expanding too far is make sure you have systemized your business (more on that to come).
So, when are you going to step out of the boiler room and take control of your business?