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Nobody Ever Said Business Ownership is Easy…

Starting my own business from nothing was a challenge, but making it work long-term has been a challenge, too. I think back to our third year in business when we felt firmly planted but new challenges sprouted often. Now in our seventh year, as we prepare for the future, we are tackling new challenges. One of them is for me to stop trying to do everything myself and delegate tasks to my team.

The truth is, running your own business is full of unplanned obstacles—whether you are a relatively new business or have passed the five-year or even ten-year milestone. At ABAC, we attempt to address them head-on and continue to implement our business plan, but running your own business is always full of unplanned obstacles. Here’s one crucial lesson of business ownership I’ve learned the hard way: there are so many more things requiring your attention than you ever thought possible when starting out, especially when taking into account our professional ethics codes and other ongoing changes to our fields. As a business owner, it’s hard to keep your focus on the big picture. Everyone says we need to learn to delegate tasks, but it’s easier said than done.

How to Focus on The Big Picture While Wearing Many Hats…

Keeping up with the day-to-day while remaining focused on the bigger picture is a matter of developing your own set of small achievable goals and returning to them after the emergency “this” or the surprise “that” comes up.

It also requires small business owners to re-evaluate everything they do and determine if the day-to-day tasks are:

  • Something only I—the small business owner—can do, or
  • Something I—the small business owner—does but don’t need to.

In the past three months, I’ve worked with my team to evaluate if I am being most efficient with my time. Clearly, if I am writing my Fitzer Friday post at 5:52 pm on a Friday, I am not.

My goal every year is to write, present, and train more, but there is no way I can do that if I am the person installing a new website theme and testing every page and post by hand like I did this week, or running out to buy stamps while figuring out why someone didn’t get their certificate of completion.

Don’t for a second think I believe these tasks are beneath me. I have done these tasks for many years as I have pushed to grow this business, but these weren’t the things I envisioned myself doing when I started ABAC. In fact, I had no idea what a website theme was when I started. Business ownership necessitates learning new skills that help your business grow. But how can you do it all? The truth is you can’t. Eventually, you need to begin delegating tasks and handing things over to your team.

Delegating: Letting Go and Handing Things Over

Small business owner manuals should start with the following opener: “You will not do what you set out to do by opening this business as much as you want to, and you will do things you never thought you would ever do.”

In my case, I have learned website design and maintenance, graphic design, and how to moderate webinars while simultaneously problem-solving why someone doesn’t have audio and someone else can’t log in.

In addition to being a behavior analyst, I’m also an entrepreneur, techie, salesperson, customer service representative, marketing professional, moderator, and manager.

I am blessed to have a wonderful team of people here at ABAC who agree to take on more to keep us moving forward, allowing me to create, moderate, and organize engaging content and offer my own ABACLive webinars.

It took some time for me to accept that it was okay to delegate tasks, especially ones that I have done so long that it takes me half the time to do it than it would someone new. This is my baby, and like a parent dropping their child off at daycare so they can go back to work, I have had to let go of certain responsibilities in order to take on new ones.

A Useful Exercise to Figure Out What Tasks Can Be Delegated.

Whether you are a new agency owner or someone who has been managing their business for a few years, we all struggle at certain points. When you feel a bit “underwater,” I suggest sitting down with one or two people in your company you would take with you if you needed to move your business to another state. I am talking about the ones you feel inspired by and who make you want to be a better business owner and boss. Sit down with them, tell them your goals, and review the things you do all day, every day.

Perhaps there are some tasks that they or your current staff can do even though it might seem faster and easier for you to do them. Perhaps you decide as a team that it is time to hire someone or bring on an intern to help you with the stuff getting in the way of growing the business and your brand the way you want to. Whatever you decide, you will have a clearer idea of what you need to do and the things that you do that you don’t have to—because someone else can do them. Delegating tasks allows you—the small business owner and visionary—to focus on the big picture.

Recently, I achieved more than I would have normally on a Friday because my Special Projects Manager took a task off my plate. Why did she? Because I asked her to. Nicely. I said, this is what I have to do by Monday, and this is what I need to do. Do you think you could help me out with some of the things I could do but don’t have to? Within minutes, we were both back to work and I was back on track.

Did I say I was blessed to have such an amazing team? One of the most important lessons of business ownership is learning that the humans working for you are your most important resource. As a business owner, you’re a leader. The wonderful humans working for you help you stay focused on the big picture. Trust them.

As always, I would love to hear what you think about this post.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Adrienne

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