Are you managing? Or managing?

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on July 22, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Delegation for Success

Business owners work hard to create a business that hopefully will become a valuable, revenue-generating asset for them. IF a business survives, that is a tribute to the entrepreneur. But IF a business thrives, that is even better.

So, how does a business get from “survive” to “thrive”? I suggest that the clue is in the title: Are you managing? Or managing? Yes, it sounds strange so let me explain:

Are you managing your business like the captain of a ship, directing this, automating that, delegating the other? Or, are you barely managing to get your work done each day, hoping that tomorrow will be different but not really sure how? That is the ultimate difference between thriving (the former type of managing) and merely surviving (the latter type of managing).

There is a huge difference, not just in activity but in mindset. All too often, the mindset is (unconsciously) one of survival: Business owners take on all the tasks, working a bit here and a bit there on everything, and hoping that they can keep it all together. They are pulled from one situation to the next. I think it’s a lot like juggling knives: Once the knives are in the air you don’t want to stop juggling for fear that the sudden change in rhythm will cut! Unfortunately, this is a very reactive mindset because business owners will spend too much of their time putting out fires and answering to issues. Yes, they will have some glimmering moments when the job is humming along nicely, but most of the time it feels like a frantic pace.

The “thriving” mindset is one that business owners should strive for. It’s a challenge and not all entrepreneurs will reach this “Nirvana” of business-thinking. It starts with the idea that you need to let go of quite a bit of the effort that you’re hanging on to. Rather than trying to do it all at once, the thriving mindset does this:

  1. Identify the most important actions. (Hint, they’re not ALL important)
  2. Identify the rest of your activities.
  3. Create ways to automate as much as possible.
  4. Focus your efforts on the actions you listed in step 1.
  5. Delegate, revise, or stop doing the activities in step 2.

In presenting this idea to business owners, they usually come up with a few objections. I’ve listed those objections below with my counterpoints:

  • Objection: “Everything I do IS important!” My response: No, it’s not. Everything you do feels important but it really isn’t important. What is truly important is: First, dreaming great things for your company; and second, bringing in new prospects, turning them into customers, and repeating that process over and over. The dreaming/visioning effort is something that is solely yours and cannot be delegated. The sales funnel effort is yours to think about and modify but the actual activities can be automated and delegated.
  • Objection: “I don’t have the money to invest in automation.” My response: Automation is a convenient word but doesn’t necessarily mean that it all runs without any input from you. A checklist for a series of common tasks is a good example of “automation” that doesn’t require a lot of investment. Templates for emails and letters is another great example of “automation”. One professional I know uses an assistant to select 10 qualified leads from the hundreds of semi-qualified ones and he contacts those leads and closes 4 – 5 of them. Because he’s not spending his time qualifying and then closing, he can focus on closing and his close rate has increased dramatically.
  • Objection: “You’re suggesting that I STOP doing my non-essential activities?” My response: Try it. You might be surprised. This was a sticking point for me early in my career but someone advised me to test it and see if my ignoring certain activities had any impact. In most cases, it did not and I eliminated them entirely, freeing up so much of my time.

The captain of a large ship nicely illustrates the “thriving” mindset. The captain is able to maneuver his or her ship through water (sometimes wide open oceans, sometimes shallow and rocky narrows) but rarely does the captain actually do the work. The captain oversees the effort, directing, advising, and relying on his or her expertise to make changes, but trusts staff and automated effort to act in order to bring the vision to reality.

That is the thriving mindset – the mindset of someone who is expertly managing his or her business.

So, are you managing? Or are you just managing?

Good Luck!

Heather Recommends:

Running a business can be busy, challenging work. I can help you become more productive and successful. Find out how.

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