Think about the role you play in your small business—not the title on your business card, but what you actually do. Are you a manager one minute, a receptionist the next? When there’s a problem with shipping or facilities or finance, are you the one racing to put out the fire? If any of this rings true, you’re not running a business—your business is running you. You’re wearing too many hats, more than any one person can balance on their own. And if you keep leading that way, your business will only get as far as you can carry it. Here’s how to make the shift from working tactically in your business to working more strategically so you can start taking control and creating the business—and life—you really want.
The three personalities of the business owner
As a business owner, you approach both your business and your work through the lens of one of three distinct personalities: the Technician, the Manager and the Entrepreneur. If you move through your days firmly rooted in the present, focused on the work of making, selling and delivering your product or service, you’re operating like a Technician. If you’re focused on achieving results through people and systems, you’re operating like a Manager. And if your focus is on the future, on defining and designing your business and closing the gap between where the business is today and where you want it to be, you’re operating like an Entrepreneur.
You might sometimes find yourself wearing multiple hats—and that’s okay. Every business owner needs to play Technician or Manager now and then. But if you want to grow your business and stop taking ownership of so many responsibilities, you need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. This means thinking of your business—not what the business produces—as your product. It means separating yourself from the tactical work of making, selling and delivering, focusing instead on the strategic work that will get your business where you want it to go.
Know where you're going
What would you like your company to look like three years from now? What would your role look like? And how would the business serve you? Before you can start the strategic work, you need to define the goal you’re trying to reach. Create a concrete vision—and write it down in present tense. This isn’t just what you hope for. It’s what you believe will happen. The vision you’ve created is your “new company”—and it’s what all your strategic work will move you toward.
The strategic work will never feel as urgent as the tactical, but it should be your priority. Because if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve already got. So block off 30 to 60 minutes every day for strategy—and stick to it.
Systematize your way we do it here
As an entrepreneur, you should focus on the future—but the tactical work still has to be done. This is how systematization makes such a big impact. You know what it takes to get excellent results. If you want to be able to hand off that work with the confidence that others will do it the way you do, you need to figure out your “way we do it here”—and then use systems to document it.
Whether or not your vision for the future includes expansion, approach systematization like a franchiser might. Create systems that will get you a consistent, predictable result, no matter who’s doing the work—systems that, no matter how many times they’re duplicated, will reflect your way we do it here.
You already have systems in place—you couldn’t be in business without them. But many have probably developed without any intention or design. So identify and evaluate them. What’s working? What’s not? Which systems are you missing? The right systems will support your way—and remove the business’s dependency on you.
Replace yourself in your organization chart
You can’t become the leader your business demands when you’re wearing too many hats. So take a close look at your organization chart. (If you don’t have one, start there.) As the business owner, you’re at the top—but how many other roles are you plugged into? As you systematize the tactical work and figure out which responsibility fits in which org chart box, you can start taking yourself out of those boxes and plugging others into them. You need to move out and up—you need to stop working in the business and start working on it—and this may mean adding positions that will give you the space you need to lead.
With an organizational structure for your company, you have the foundation of your role as a leader. What do you need to start working on within yourself to achieve that? What kind of leader does your ideal company need you to be, and how does that compare to the type of leader you are today?
Develop a high-performing team
Once you have an organization chart based on the roles you need to get the results you want, you need to clearly communicate exactly what every employee who fills a position on that chart is responsible for achieving. You can do this by creating Position Agreements, which focus on the outcomes each position is responsible for and how to achieve them.
Position Agreements are not to-do lists. Instead, they’re designed around results statements. This is an important differentiation—when your employees have a clear idea of the outcomes they’re trying to achieve, they’ll be motivated to collaborate with their managers instead of checking off boxes on a task list. And as your company grows and changes, your people will feel empowered to make whatever adjustments are necessary to continue working toward the expected results.
You can have the business you want and not own the responsibility of every result it takes to get there. If you'd like support, reach out to us. We'd love to connect.