Characteristics of a successful entrepreneur: Hands-on involvement

April 04, 2016

Getting your hands dirty probably got you in trouble when you were a kid. As an entrepreneur, however, it’s a good thing, at least in a metaphorical sense. One of the top characteristics of a successful entrepreneur is to be hands-on and totally involved in your business.

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You have to be hands-on at the start

When you first start your business, it’s easy to be hands-on, because you have to do everything. If you’re going solo, you are the one who is pounding the pavement for sales, purchasing or creating the product or service, offering post-sale support, managing accounts payable and receivable, developing the marketing strategy, hiring and managing employees – the list goes on and on.

As your company grows and you begin to hire more staff or outsource some functions, you may find yourself moving away from the day-to-day functions of running your business. This is a positive development, because it means your business is growing. But it can be disconcerting. Here’s how to make sure you stay in the loop.

As you grow, being hands-on becomes more important

It’s challenging to remain hands-on as your company grows, but it’s also important. Understanding what is going on in every department is critical if you want your company to continue to expand. You don’t need to look over every employee’s shoulder every day, but you do need to understand what everyone is doing, including full-time employees, part-time or temporary staff, contractors and vendors. Here’s the acid test: In a pinch, you should be able to jump into any role in the company and keep the ball rolling.

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It’s a balancing act

There’s a delicate balance between knowing what’s going on and doing everything yourself. Many entrepreneurs think that, since they’ve built their company from the ground up, no one else can do ‘it’ as well as they can – whether ‘it’ is developing a marketing plan, building the product, or ordering supplies. And while you may have come up with the best way to do things when you were doing it all yourself, you need to hand over the reins if you want your business to grow.

Here are some tips

Hire people who think like you do. If your staff has a similar mind-set and problem-solving approach to yours, you’ll feel more comfortable leaving everyday tasks in their hands.

  1. Find the right degree of oversight. You and your staff have to be comfortable with the amount of managing you do. If you want your salespeople to report every phone call they make, an independent, take-the-bull-by-the-horns sales manager may not last very long.
  2. Outsource what you can, when it makes more sense than hiring. If you need a  new marketing campaign, it may make more sense for  you to hire an agency rather than add someone to your staff. You can outsource just about anything, from answering the phone to generating sales leads to production.
  3. Keep some key tasks for yourself. You started this 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. When work starts to seem more like work and less like the reason you did this in the first place, take back some of the fun stuff. 

You’re still the boss

Remember that, as dedicated as your employees may be, no one cares about your business more than you do. You need to feel comfortable with the level of day-to-day involvement you have. You should know enough about what your employees and contractors are doing to jump in if you need to. And keep responsibility for the tasks you love. Now, go get your hands dirty!

To protect everything you've worked hard to build, don't forget to check out the small business insurance options available to you.