Is The Tail Wagging The Dog?
Are You Bigger Than Your Business -- Or is Your Business Bigger Than You?
‘The tail is wagging the dog’
—used to describe a situation in which an important or powerful person, organisation, etc., is being controlled by someone or something that is much less important or powerful. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Many new small business owners view their companies as an extension of themselves. And that's only natural; often they are doing most of the work and handling most of the public interaction.
This is an exciting phase of a new business, but also a very taxing one. A recent survey by The Alternative Board, a management consulting firm, found that 72-percent of small business owners feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities. Their biggest complaint? Too many tasks to accomplish in too little time.
Unfortunately, you can't keep this sort of thing quarantined from the rest of your life. When you're overwhelmed at work, your lifestyle is going to suffer. Become too overwhelmed, and things can spiral out of control quickly. Your business is no longer an extension of you; instead, it completely defines you.
There is, however, a solution to the vexing problem of feeling completely owned and controlled by your business: The introduction of smart, well-designed business processes.
How to Wrestle Back Control From Your Business
Business owners who are stuck in the loop of trading their personal time for money are almost never going to feel fully in control of their lives. If you can't step away without worrying about money or business operations, you don't have the freedom to enjoy yourself. Nor do you have the necessary resources to think about your business in a strategic sense. Instead, you're always focused on mere survival.
We call this stage of the business development lifecycle "The Wilderness," and it's estimated that roughly 70-percent of small business owners are mired in this state at any given time. It's an apt description, as small business owners who become stuck in The Wilderness often struggle to find their way out without some form of guidance.
We mentioned that the solution to feeling controlled by your business is fairly simple -- you need to take a systematic approach. Simple, however, doesn't always mean easy. Many small business owners understand the time for money trap, and realise they need to develop real business processes, but simply lack the expertise to put this into effect.
In other words, if they want to leave The Wilderness behind and build a true high performance business, they're going to need guidance.
Four Tips for Taking Back Control
The demands that companies in the early growth stage place on key personnel are often overwhelming. Developing a more systematic approach and incorporating time management techniques can help ease this burden, while making business operations more efficient and effective.
With that in mind, here are a few smart tips you can follow to help you reassert control over your business:
Identify lower value work that can be replicated by another person. Business owners need time to focus on high value tasks and strategic thinking. By identifying lower value tasks that can be competently executed by others, business owners can ease the pressure on their schedules without impacting quality.
Write down the four activities that make your business the most money and focus on them. By identifying the activities that are the most effective and have the most significant impact on your bottom line, you can devote precious time to what's truly making a difference.
Begin your day by visualising something you can do -- in one hour or less -- that will have a large impact on your business. By highlighting high value tasks that can be broken down into small, measurable segments, you can make steady progress toward larger goals.
Trust your processes. The art of delegation is essential to business success. In order for it to succeed, however, you need to trust the processes you have in place. Endless intercession into delegated tasks will prevent you from effectively reallocating the time you've freed up.
By following these tips, you can begin reasserting the control you've lost over your business -- and begin living the life you deserve.