As a business owner, you may find yourself wearing as many as three or four different hats each day. It could be that you’re trying to save money or that you just trust yourself more than anybody else, but the bottom line is the same — you are trying to do it all.
While you're busy responding to emails, selling your product or providing customer service, you aren't thinking. You aren't strategizing. You aren't creating relationships. You aren't being creative. You are being sucked into the black hole of the mundane day-to-day tasks.
If you're the only person who can solve a problem, you should take a hard look at the essence of the question at hand. When you get an email, ask yourself: “Am I really the only one equipped enough to give an answer?” If the answer is “yes,” ask yourself: “Is there anyone I can teach?” If the answer is “no,” with all due respect, you may be overvaluing yourself.
Valuing Your Time
Eventually, it all boils down to: “How much do you value one hour of your time?” If you manage to answer that question, it could help you make smarter decisions. For example, should you pay someone $60,000 per year to do some of your work? Should you outsource a task? Should you get that $299-per-month software? The list is endless.
With that in mind, does it really make sense to do customer service and sales, or should you delegate? Is there anyone or anything capable of doing your work for less than what you value your time at? If the answer to that question is yes, pick up the phone and hire them.
Whether you choose to free up time by hiring, contracting or implementing technology, you want to make sure that you do it right the first time.
It takes a whole lot of time to train a new employee and get them to the professional and cultural level that you'd like to see in anyone who'll be stepping into your shoes. Employee turnover can drain time, money, energy and confidence, so do not take that lightly. Reach out to your second and third circles for referrals and interviewing many candidates. Do not to be shy and actually ask candidates to do some random tasks on the computer, write a letter or perform another job-related activity on the spot. You could be surprised about how many don't pass these tests.
Choosing a vendor may seem easier, but it can be a risky task. While it's true that a vendor should already have the know-how and the experience, there is more room for error as you're usually unable to monitor their work in real time. It is highly recommended to create a detailed scope of work and to set expectations, so you don't find yourself dealing with mistakes that could have been avoided by a better kick-off meeting. Schedule the final portion of the payment for after the service has been completed. Try to allow enough time to fully review the outcome of it.
If you choose to add machines or software to your processes, you could be en-route to saving many hours on mundane tasks. However, you should have a long enough transition period so that you can truly asses the new process. You may find that somewhere along the flow you missed a need that can't be fulfilled by your shiny new software. You should note that at first, employees may be reluctant to adopt the new system. As a leader, you need to know how to carefully listen to this feedback and determine which are real concerns and which are just the background noises of resistance to changes.