This past year, my wife and I experienced the joy of having our first child. While nothing can prepare you for first-time parenthood, as a business owner, I can’t help but find similarities between raising a child and growing a business from the ground up. Business owners dream about the future of their organizations. They make decisions to put their business on the right path and influence behaviour to stay the course. Much like a parent, business owners need to strike a balance between being involved and being a helicopter parent business owner—fostering growth and development without getting in the way of it.
Business owners, are you getting in the way?
This year I’ve noticed a few canaries in the coal mine indicating that as an owner, my involvement may actually be stunting the growth and development of Stryve.
Canary 1: Never-ending internal projects
Relaunching your website is a heavy lift, but it shouldn’t take three years.
If you’re a hands-on business owner with a lot on your plate, you might be the bottleneck slowing things down. If items keep getting pushed to the backburner, consider passing them off to other members of your team. Then, limit your check-ins to the 25%, 50%, and 75% completion milestones. This not only keeps the project moving forward, but it gives someone else the chance to take on a leadership position. You don’t need to have your hand in everything.
Canary 2: Stalled revenue
Maybe your special skill set is needed on too many projects or your unique expertise makes you the only one suited for the job. Well, even if you think that’s true, it’s not sustainable. For your business and revenue to grow, you can’t be involved in everything. You need to elevate others and position them to take on the work that you’ve grown accustomed to owning.
Platforms like SharePoint and Jira have made sharing knowledge easy. In past years, new hires were onboarded task by task by senior-level employees including myself. While this sort of hand-holding is necessary for the early stages of client work, teaching internal tasks like how to file expense reports isn’t the most valuable use of my time. To remedy this, we’ve created a library of self-serve how-to documents on Sharepoint. Here, new hires can learn how to tackle low-level tasks without eating up the bandwidth of those who are better utilized on billable client work.
To summarize, as a leader, you need to be able to identify and disconnect from low-level tasks without taking away from their production. Luckily, there are plenty of applications to help you do just that.
Canary 3: You wish you could clone yourself
There’s a theme here: you can’t be involved in everything. To help delegate and foster the growth and development of your business baby, make a list of all the tasks you’re involved with. Then, think about whether or not you add value that couldn’t be added by someone else. What tasks would position others to grow from the experience you’ve already gained? How many tasks can you remove to make room for the big-picture work where your presence is truly needed? Recently, I was able to delegate our bookkeeping tasks to our office administrator. As a result, I have more time to manage our company’s big-picture finances and it’s been a total gamechanger.
From 2017 onwards we began implementing more intentional action items to organize and delegate tasks in our business. We started using Jira for project management, SharePoint for knowledge sharing, HubSpot for our CRM management. We made team members on the team Functional Area leaders on key parts of the business such as Operations, Human Resources, and Marketing. This all helped take tasks off the plate of the owners and senior managers at our company. Between 2017 and 2020 we experienced an average gross revenue growth rate of +34% and we were recognized as one of Globe and Mail’s Top Growing Companies in 2020.
From what we’ve seen, not helicopter parenting our ‘business baby’ is paying off.