Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It’s time to grow: When it’s not good to wear too many hats

¡It's time to grow!
Perhaps you are one of the many entrepreneurs who started the business of their lives wearing many different hats at the same time.

In fact, it’s very common among new entrepreneurs to concentrate on their shoulders a wide variety of tasks, not just those for which they are formally trained, but many others for which they simply have a vague training or depend solely on using their common sense.

Back in Miami when we started with our signs and lettering business, we did everything at home, both my wife and I. And it was ok. It worked fine. We had the equipment we needed, promoted our products, went out to do cold calling to attract new customers, we did our own installations, put together the necessary paperwork for filling our taxes, took care of the billing, purchasing of materials, and indeed, it was a very enriching experience.

You learn a lot wearing many hats.

However, as our business grew we came to understand that wearing many hats brought along very good things, and others that were simply not so good.

Which were some of the good things?

  • You learn a lot when you have the opportunity to get involved in all areas of your business: it’s a knowledge that will help you better manage your business and keep you from making the kind of mistakes made by those who don’t have an idea about areas directly related with their industry.
  • It’s an extraordinary experience to take the pulse of your own growth, attract new customers; witness every day how you’re generating more work orders, asking for more materials, printing more bills, depositing more money in the bank ... in short, it’s really motivating.
  • You can fully develop your personal and professional talents, demonstrating your abilities in different business areas.
  • Earn more money, or we should rather say, spend less money because what you produce is divided among fewer people.

What about the "not so good” things?

  • You don’t use your time effectively: If you haven’t noticed, to do all things without focusing on one at any time, dilutes your effort. You have to recognize that the time you're devoting to accounting, it’s time you’re not using to bring in new customers, to put it on the simplest way possible.
  • You can’t lend your service more efficiently: And is directly related to the previous one. When you do everything yourself, you're not investing your time in being better prepared for your job, but using what you already know to get the job done. As you move along the road, the quality of your service deteriorates because you don’t have the opportunity to keep up with your profession.
  • This inevitably leads to stagnation: you're so busy doing so many things that can’t even stop to think or plan ahead your next steps and many times it happens, don’t even have another person who might serve as your counterweight in the decision-making process.

It’s then time to grow: delegate tasks.

The first step in any growing business, one that is moving forward, is the need to have more people to carry out everyday tasks. Whether you hire people to work within your own company or you outsource the additional services you need, your business is growing.

As you begin to delegate functions to remove from your shoulders some of the burden, you'll find wonderful things start to happen:

  • You have time to think, plan ahead and dive deeper on the work you are doing. If you do the selling, you can spend more time developing new customers, if you do the purchasing, you can put in order all the goods you have in the storage, if you do the accounting, you can spend an entire morning updating yourself on this new regulation which directly affects your next tax return.
  • Along with the time you now have to delve into the area you are devoted to, you will notice that you are much more productive, not only in quantity but in quality. Now you don’t have to spend your time on five different tasks at the same time, but focus all your efforts in doing the one you do, the best way possible.
  • You create a working environment, and if you have an open mind and really like team working, you can now discover you're not the only who can generate great ideas.

It’s from this point on, when your business starts to navigate driven by a true entrepreneurial spirit. The wearing-many-hats-at-the-same-time thing is fine, but only when you are just starting and your business is really a small one.

Do you feel that you're not getting done all the things you should, that you don’t have time enough to do all the things you have to do? Perhaps it is now time to grow.


Related post: Seriousness and discipline: Things you can learn from the army.

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