Before I tell you my story, I want to make one thing clear: I love being an entrepreneur. However, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, shortly after I launched my business, I went through a mini-crisis. I had invested a lot of my savings, I had gone into debt, and I had dragged several friends and associates along with me. And while things were going okay, I had absolutely no way of guaranteeing we were going to be a success. Those who had come with me were banking on the business working out, and they had families to feed and lives to live. The pressure was intense, and I didn’t want to fail.
In many ways, this pressure is good. And it’s part of what makes us special as entrepreneurs. We’re not satisfied with the status quo, and we won’t rest until we get what we want. But it turns out this can also be our downfall if we’re not careful.
The Turning Point
I’ll never forget the moment when I realized I was pushing myself too far. It was a Friday night, around 12:30 am. My wife, Tina, who at the time was my girlfriend, had gone out with some friends of ours, but I had chosen to stay home and get some work done. Had the occasion been more special, I’m sure she would have protested and encouraged me to come out. But it was just a normal Friday and she knew how much I had going on at work. Yet when she came home, I was not okay. I had drunk far too much coffee, and I was a nervous wreck. I was pouring over the books, studying the business’ finances, trying to make ends meet. And things just weren’t working out, and I just couldn’t figure out why. When Tina walked in, she knew something was up.
“Kev,” she said. “What are you doing?”
“Working, hun,” I said, frantically.
“I see that,” she laughed. “But working on what?”
“I’m doing the books.”
“The books?” she almost screamed at me. “What are you doing accounting for? You hate accounting? And, no offense, you’re kind of bad at it.”
Now I’m not sure if that was how the conversation word for word, but it’s pretty close. Yet the reason this moment was important is because it’s when I realized I not only shouldn’t but that I can’t, do everything for my business. Seven years later, my business is a resounding success. But if it weren’t for that epiphany I had in the early hours of a random Saturday morning, then I’m not sure I would be where I am now. That night I learned something: delegation is the most important skill any entrepreneur will learn, and the faster you learn it, the faster you will have success.
You’re Not the Best at Everything
I’m not sure what happens to us when we start a business that makes us think we’re all of a sudden expert at things we’ve never been able to do before. I think it has to do with the raised stakes.
Because our business becomes our life, it’s easy to want to stick our noses in everything, as this feels like the only way to make sure things get done right. But this line of thinking is simply flawed.
My wife was 100 percent right. I hate accounting and I always have. I thought this needed to change to be successful, but that was just wrong. The Monday after that night I started calling around to hire an accountant. Within a few weeks, I had someone, and my life became exponentially better. It’s not easy to admit we’re not good at something, but when running a business, the earlier you can do that, the more quickly you’ll have success.
Your Business Needs Your Focus
Much of entrepreneurship revolves around trial and error. But it is also grounded in your own personal abilities and ideas. My passion has always been strategy. I love looking at a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it. My business is based on helping companies find new customers, and this is something I’m good at. But by spending so much time worrying about other aspects of the business, I was reducing the amount of time I had to work on what it is I do best, and because of this, the business was suffering.
In addition to an accountant, I also brought in some people to help with marketing. This freed up a lot of time, which I promptly used to help my clients, which made our first few projects a success and really got the business rolling in the right direction.
You Need to Learn How to Manage
No one starts a business so that they can work 100+ hours a week and be miserable. We do it so that we can pursue our passion, but so that we can also be the one directing workflow, which is something that brings about tremendous freedom and flexibility. As a result, the sooner you learn how to delegate, the better. But this is about more than just telling people what to do. It’s about learning how to trust. As I said earlier, part of the reason I was trying to do so much is because I wanted to make sure everything got done correctly. But at some point, you need to just trust that others can do it just as well, or better. And this will make you a better manager.
No one likes a boss who hovers, so learn early how to manage in a more hands-off way and both you and you’re business will be much better off as a result.
You Need to be Healthy
Although delegating is important, it’s still true that the success of your business depends largely on you. However, if you have a nervous breakdown, or if you become ill because you’ve worked yourself to the point of burnout, then this is going to be really bad for business. As a result, learning to delegate becomes a matter of both personal and professional health. Learning to step back and trust others to do some of the work will put less stress on you, allowing for more balance and better health, something that will keep you moving in the right direction.
Start Delegating Now
Don’t wait until you’re so stressed that you explode, or your girlfriend has to yell at you in the middle of the night. There are surely parts of your business you could be automating, outsourcing, delegating or deleting. So think about what you do best and how you can best support the company, and then get some help for everything else. Trust me, it’s the best thing for both you and your business.
About the Author: Kevin is the founder and CEO of Vast Bridges, a lead generation and customer acquisition service based out of Jacksonville, Fla. He has been building this company for the past seven years, but this was hardly his first attempt at entrepreneurship. Nowadays, he also runs Broadband Search, which is a service that helps people find the best value broadband internet in their area. He’s always looking for ways to help fellow entrepreneurs be successful.