The “Wrong Way” To Build A “Successful” Business

While having dinner with a friend, he was practically in tears at how his business was doing.  His family life was suffering, he was staying up late at night stressed out and I could tell he wasn’t caring for himself.  He wasn’t sleeping much, he wasn’t eating well – and it seemed like he was on the edge of collapse.

Why you might ask, was this happening?  Was he losing clients too quickly?  Was his business on its last legs?

No…it was thriving and more profitable than ever.

And that was the problem.

Unstoppable and Unrelenting

His business was like an unstoppable freight train.

Almost on cue, his phone rang – and I could see the defeat in his face as he sent it to voice mail.

It was well past the close of business…and yet the clients would not stop calling.

He was in a deep mess and he didn’t know what to do, because all this clients wanted him, and only him.

He was answering the phones. He was fulfilling orders. He was collecting the payments.  When servicing clients who were out of town, he was the one that had to hop on a plane, live out of his suitcase and miss his family.  If anything went wrong, they called him immediately and he had to fix it.

This Is a Lie – This Is Not a Business

The problem was, he didn’t have a business.

He had an incredibly successful line of products, and from the client’s perspective he they were receiving high quality services.

But a business needs to be able to handle one person taking a break. If one person is running everything, the truth is you don’t have a business – you have a single person, a superstar, who is succeeding in spite of how the business is being run – not because of it.

And the problem is – because the work never stops, your superstar never gets a break either.

It Doesn’t Break – Until The Superstar Does

Things finally came to a head soon after, when he simply could not handle the workload anymore, and things really did start to well… “hit the fan”

Orders started piling up. Thankfully, he never promised a client the order would be ready until he actually had time to work on it – but some had projects that had been waiting for 1, 2 and in some cases 6 months.

He called me again and asked for advice on what to do with his business. And again I explained to him…

He did not have a business.  He had consulting clients, and he was doing all the consulting.

He protested – he had tried to bring on partners, he had tried to refer the work to other people … but the clients were never happy with it. He always ended up getting pulled back in. And now, because the relationship had been damaged, he felt he had to go above and beyond to heal it.

Backed into a corner, he agreed – we needed to find a solution.

Simply working harder and harder, trying to work longer hours – this was the wrong way to build a successful business.

The answer was not spending more time. The answer was making more time.

And to do that, we had to build systems to hand off tasks.

Making More Time: By Having Other People Handle Tasks

You may have already guessed where I was going with this: he was trying to share the workload and delegate responsibilities…but he didn’t know how.

He made multiple mistakes.   And I’m not judging – because in scaling up teams and businesses, I’ve made the same mistakes.

Here’s just a few of the critical areas we fixed

  1. How to properly vet and hire people. We think we intuitively know, and the truth is as someone with a high emotional IQ, he actually had a really good handle on how to size people up. But he was still not able to effectively hire people who were dependable and delivered to his standards.
  2. Getting predictable, repeatable results.  He knew what he was doing. And he knew how to do it – but there is a big difference between doing it yourself, and having someone else replicate it. I showed him how to “operationalize” his business to get repeatable results from OTHER people.
  3. How to know what he should be doing – and what to partners with people on. Finally, I showed him how there were certain areas of the business that truly he should be doing. His particular areas of expertise, his “secret sauce” he brought to the business. By focusing on those core areas, and partnering, delegating and outsourcing the rest – he was able to service more clients, with less work on his part – and actually enjoy building his business more.

The Bottom Line Lesson

Here’s the bottom line.  I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately, and how important it is in our personal lives.

In business, the value of time is what you can create for your business.

And what matters in both business and in life is this:  you’ve got a limited amount of time, so you need to optimize it to spend it in the most important areas, and the most important tasks.

The tasks that are not at the “core” of your life, or the core of your business – you’ve got to get them out of your mind and off your plate. Say no, delegate, partner, or otherwise get rid of them.

Learn how to control your time, and every area of your life falls into place.  Whether it’s health, your business, family, friends – all these things take time.  And the more “time rich” you are – the more you’ll be able to enjoy every area of your life.

The more “time poor” we are, and the more you waste or spend your time on things that don’t matter, honestly, the more unhappy we will be.