Part three of a ten-part series: Check out our other Characteristics of an Entrepreneur posts.
When you were a kid, your mother probably complained that your hands were always dirty. Now that you’ve grown up and started your own business, getting your hands dirty can be a good thing. In fact, one of the top ten characteristics of successful entrepreneurs is the ability, and the desire, to dig in and get your hands dirty. Being a hands-on business owner can be a harbinger of success.
At first, it’s easy
Starting a small business, is not easy—and it may be inevitable—to know everything about your business, because you have to do everything. If you’re going solo, you are the one who is pounding the pavement for sales, providing the product or service, and offering post-sale support, not to mention tracking your income and expenses, developing a marketing strategy, hiring employees or contract help, and maybe even cleaning the office!
As your company grows and you bring on more people, this can change. You may find yourself getting away from the day-to-day business of doing business as you hire staff or outsource some of the things you need to get done. This is a good thing because it means your business is thriving and you’re expanding. Just make sure you stay in the loop.
As you grow, it gets more important
While it may be more challenging to remain hands-on as your company grows, it’s also more important to do so. Understanding what is going on in every department of your business is critical if you want to continue to expand.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be looking over the shoulder of each of your employees every day. But you need to have an understanding of what everyone is doing, whether they are a full time employee, a contractor or a company you outsource to. Here’s the acid test: In a pinch, you should be able to jump into any role and keep the ball rolling.
It’s a balancing act
There’s a delicate balance between knowing what’s going on and trying to do everything yourself. Many entrepreneurs think that no one else can do ‘it’ as well as they can, whatever ‘it’ may be. And while it’s true that you may have come up with the best way to do things when you had to do everything yourself, there comes a time when you have to hand over the reins if you want your business to grow.
Here are some ways that successful entrepreneurs manage this:
• They hire people who think like they do. If your key employees have the same mind-set that you do, and approach problem-solving the same way, you’ll feel more comfortable leaving day-to-day tasks in their hands.
• They find the right degree of oversight. Both you and your employee need to be comfortable with the amount of managing you do. If you need your staff to report every phone call they make or every box of paper clips they buy, an independent, take-the-bull-by-the-horns type isn’t going to last very long. Neither one of your will be happy.
• They outsource some things. If you are too busy and need to offload some work, consider whether an employee or a contractor makes more sense for you. If you want to test the waters for a new marketing campaign, for example, consider using an agency instead of adding someone to your staff. You can outsource just about anything, from answering the phone to lead generation to production to customer service.
• They keep some tasks for themselves. You started your own business because you have a passion for the product or service you provide. Make sure you’re doing enough of what excites you to keep that passion alive. If, as you grow, the work seems more like work and less like fun than it did when you started, take back some of the fun stuff.
You’re still the boss
Remember that, as dedicated as your employees might be, no one cares more about your business than you do. You need to be comfortable with your level of involvement, and you should know enough about what others, whether they are employees, contractors or vendors, are doing to jump in if you need to. And keep responsibility for the tasks that don’t feel like work to you. Now, go ahead and get your hands dirty!