When we start our business it is a fact of life that we almost always have to do everything. We have to do the bookkeeping, the marketing, the sales, the customer support, as well as probably cleaning the office. This is with the hope that over time our business will grow and we can relinquish those duties to employees, where we can focus on the strategy, vision, and overall profitability of the overall business. In some cases, as the business grows and flourishes and it is time to hire employees, some business owners have time relinquishing control, as they feel that no one can do the job as well as they can.
We have worked with a few small businesses where this has been the case. This is especially found in businesses where the owner has been the main individual selling. The owner enjoys building a relationship with the customer and convinces themselves that they will lose customers if they hire someone else. In many cases they feel they have actually proven this to themselves. They hired sales people and it just did not work out. They will have a list of issues about the sales person, such as; they were lazy, they didn’t know how to do their job, they didn’t understand our business, and my all-time famous line - our business is different and you can’t find sales people for this type of business. In a good many of those instances, the owner did not know how to hire a sales rep, did not provide any training to the individual on the business or the products, expected them to come in and hit the ground running without any direction, did not provide objectives or manage expectations and then wondered why they failed. We had one client that hired a sales rep, gave him a desk and phone and that was about it. They did not take him out and introduce him to customers, did not train him on the business, and did not manage him or provide direction and expectations. This was the proof that sales people did not work in this industry, even though larger competitors has sales teams. What it came down to was the business owner liked selling and did not want to relinquish control of selling to someone else and did not want to manage an employee.
What is a business owner? A business owner is someone who owns a business and who is responsible for the profit and loss of that business. They are responsible for the overall direction, strategy, and vision of the business and have the authority and decision making capabilities. They are also responsible for the overall management of the business and those employees that work for them which includes providing training, supervision, direction and guidance. This also includes monitoring and providing feedback. No one can expect an employee to come in and know what to do. They need to understand the overall vision and direction of the business and what are the values and expectations. They require a job description and to understand what their role and responsibilities are in your business and they need to be given proper training and guidance, if they have any chance for success.
In some circumstances, there are business owners that start a business and find out that as they start to grow, they may not be the right person to take the business to the next level. They enjoy doing certain roles in the business, but when it comes to hiring and managing people, that is not something they really want to do. We had just the case with a young business owner. He was a great sales person, but he did not want to deal with customers when it came to issues of non-payment, legal or accounting issues, or anything that took him away from customer interaction that was positive. He did not even want to be bothered with collecting HST which was going to prove to be a large financial issue for him. He even admitted all he wanted to do was sell. This is someone who will make an excellent employee for another business, but should not be a business owner.
There is nothing wrong with finding this out, it is about recognizing the issue and deciding what to do about it. If you really want to be the business owner but need some help in areas, you can find a coach or mentor to help you learn how or can get outside help. As the business owner, there is no shame in hiring employees in your business to be responsible and perform the duties that you are not best at doing. This is all part of delegation. If you find you are not cut out to be the one to make the hard decisions, then you can still be the “owner” of the business, but you need to hire someone to run the business and you can continue in the areas which you enjoy and are comfortable. The key to this is acknowledging this and knowing what you want.
In the case of the owner who does not believe anyone can do certain jobs but themselves, this is just not true. It is about letting go and relinquishing power. This has to happen in every business at some point. When many large businesses started out that were owner operated, the owner did everything just as every small business owner that is starting a business today. Can you imagine Bill Gates sitting behind a computer screen coding Microsoft® products to sell to his customers? At some point he had to let go and hire and trust others to take the reins of the day to day business and he then had to focus on where to take the business. Good and loyal customers buy from you because you have quality products and/or great customer support and service. Customers understand that every business has to grow and at some point they may not be dealing with the owner. It is how you transition those customers to your new employee that is important as well as assuring the customer that you are still responsible so if there are any concerns, they will be addressed.
It is tough to give up control and put trust in others, but if you are going to grow your business, this is the only way that you will be able to accomplish this. If you are content with being a small business where you do everything, there is no shame in it, but you have to understand this is all you will ever be. To grow, the business owner has to relinquish control and focus on working on the business versus working in the business. They need to either hire the right staff or outsource certain parts of their business to professionals.
RK Fischer & Associates