When you start a business, you rapidly learn how to become a multitasker, how to juggle many many plates and never let one drop. It is a difficult balancing act but you find a way to make it work – from product developing to managing stock to customer service, you wear many hats and fit it all in because you have to. But, there then comes this strange tipping point where you just can’t do everything yourself, and you have to start unpicking that and learning to let go.
Recently I have been recruiting and training my team on new responsibilities – tasks I have always done – and reflecting on how I have been feeling through this process. Here are 5 things I have learnt…
If you don’t let go, you can’t grow
How hard it is for someone like me to let go! I am a self confessed perfectionist. And I passionately care about what I have built, about everything being done right. But, I know if I don’t let go, my business can’t grow.
In my August ‘What I Wish I’d Known’ post, I talked about having a 3-5 year vision. This is so helpful because when I look at my vision, I know I can’t achieve certain things by myself, so I need to start to take the steps now to help me get there. What is your vision? Do you want to grow, and can you achieve that by yourself?
What could you delegate?
When I first thought about it, it was hard to think of anything I could delegate. I’m sure many small business owners feel the same – because it’s your business, no one could do it as well as you! But really ask yourself, what do you do best? What do you enjoy doing? What of your many ‘hats’ is actually something that moves your business forwards? Now ask yourself, given those things. What could you let go of?
Find people that care
Letting go could mean recruiting staff, or it could mean outsourcing, depending on your business and the task. For example, I outsource some of my accounting, and the first true ‘letting go’ was recruiting my first Production Assistant.
Whichever it is, letting go is a whole lot easier, if you find people who care. People with an energy and an enthusiasm for your business and who understand your vision. You can teach a lot of things, but you can’t teach passion.
Build trust and a relationship
You will need to invest time initially. Firstly to make sure there are clear expectations, and secondly to build a relationship with whomever it is you are letting go to. Mistakes will happen, it is inevitable and a key part of the learning process, but so long as this is accompanied by trust, the focus can always be on finding a solution and not hiding things that go wrong.
Let go in small steps
Start small. For me this was initially handing over packing, and then parts of production, and then nearly all of production. Now my lovely team are starting to help out with some of the other operational parts of the business as well as marketing. Take it a little bit at a time – Cath Kidston described this as like building scaffolding around her and I love that analogy. Importantly, once you have let go, don’t over manage. People may find better ways of doing things, but only if they can think things through for themselves and make their own decisions.
That small business balancing act? It is still there, but there are now other people helping me spin those plates. This week I realised there are things happening that don’t need me at all, and that feels very very rewarding.
Do you have any tips on letting go? I’d love to hear what you think. Do let me know by leaving a comment below.