The natural tendency for most owners and CEOs of SMBs, who want to grow their businesses (or organizations) is to keep adding more and more to their plates. Every new book or conference or webinar suggests a new tactic that can “help grow your business,” so they keep adding. Unfortunately that strategy simply makes most of us overwhelmed, too busy, unfocused and keeps us from doing the things we ought to be doing to actually grow our businesses.
For example, earlier this week, I was coaching a CEO who got embroiled in an internal issue that was sucking time away from him. In the early days of his business, this was the kind of issue he would have needed to handle. But at this stage, he shouldn’t have been involved in this issue at all. So, I simply said, as he was recounting his past few days, “Who should have been dealing with this?”
He got the point. It wasn’t that he was doing something bad. It was that he was still thinking like the CEO of a smaller company–and still doing some of the things he used to do–even though his company had grown beyond him needing to do them.
The reality is that every leader faces the same dilemma. If you’re doing your job well, your business or organization should be growing. If it’s growing, more and more will land on your plate–unless you’re extremely diligent and intentional about getting as much as possible off your plate.
If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know that one of my favorite sayings is, “You have to subtract before you add.” To simply keep adding more and more to your plate (or to your organization’s) without subtracting somewhere first is a recipe for disaster.
So, here’s what I’d recommend. Take a look at your last few week’s to do’s (or calendars).
1. What did you do that someone else could have done at 80% (or more) of your capabilities?
2. What meetings did you attend that you really shouldn’t attend any more?
3. What people did you take calls from or meet with that you shouldn’t any more?
4. Which emails did you respond to that someone else should have handled?
5. What items do you know you should delegate to someone else that you keep doing (just because you like doing them)?
Be ruthless. Nothing changes until something changes!
If you want to lead a larger business (or organization), you have to give up more and more of the things you used to do and focus more and more on just a few key items that can deliver significant growth gains.
So, what do you need to stop doing?
To your accelerated success!
P.S. This is a great exercise for your organization as well. Apple’s turnaround in the late 90’s occurred when Steve Jobs cut the Apple product line (which had mushroomed) to just four products. Remember, focus is not overrated!