Don't Be The Bottleneck In
When you're stuck, your business is stuck
If you're an entrepreneur, and you want to be more efficient at your job, without worrying about money, then you should continue reading...
In 23 years of working directly with entrepreneurs (including interviewing more than 100 of them!) I’ve discovered the 3 key symptoms that prove they have become the bottleneck in their businesses.
Here they are:
Symptom #1: You Are Lost In The Details
Being an entrepreneur is the most exciting and demanding job I know.
Entrepreneurship is like a giant iceberg. We only see the tip of it, and we don't realize how big it actually is until we give it a try.
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As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to wear many hats, acquire many skills, and make many decisions – fast. All whilst under extreme pressure to deliver quality work to your clients, take care of your employees, and maintain a healthy cash flow.
On top of that, there are no proper guidelines to execute your plan. Basically, you have to figure out which piece is going where, and how to place it by when as you walk your entrepreneurship journey.
So, it’s very easy to be sucked up into the daily struggles:
There’s a technical problem with the product? Let me look into it!
Why don’t the social media ads perform as per my expectations? Let me dig into the data!
Why didn’t my team deliver this project the way I wanted? Let me review the entire process!
Why is that potential client not calling me back? Let me follow up with them!
How am I going to pay the staff salary at the end of the month? Let me call the bank!
The list goes on...
I understand your company is your sweat and money, but the problem is, despite what you may believe, you can’t take care of everything.
As a matter of fact, having your head stuck in the day-to-day operations prevents you from thinking about the big picture and answering questions like, Where are we going? Why? How will we get there? Are we still on track?.
Richard Burrage, the Founder of Cimigo, a market research firm based in Vietnam, explained it well on Inter:views, episode 20: “I still enjoy doing stuff but that doesn’t help me manage. If I spend 4h today writing a proposal, if I really sit back and think about it, I’d be far better off teaching somebody else and mentoring or coaching someone else through that process rather than doing it myself. Take time out to reflect more on significant decisions.”
So, how will you know if you’re lost in details? Look out for the following:
You’re not making time to reflect and think big picture
You’re looking for perfection
You want to control everything
You’re spending your days being busy and not achieving anything
You’re not celebrating your successes
You lack accountability for yourself
Symptom #2: When You Just Can't Let Go
There are 4 entrepreneurship stages:
Stage 1 – Pre-launch: When you wonder how to do it
Stage 2 – Start: When you get it done yourself
Stage 3 – Growth: When you make sure it is done
Stage 4 – Maturity: When you build an organization that gets it done
If you’re successful, your business will expand through each of these stages.
At the beginning of your entrepreneurship journey, your resources are limited. So, of course, you’re running everywhere, and you’re involved in every little thing (so watch out for symptom #1!).
However, as the company grows, you should gradually remove yourself from the day-to-day operations to focus on hiring people, creating efficient processes to strengthen your business’ foundations, and working on your company’s strategy.
Nolan Garret, the Founder of Intrinium, an IT and Security Solutions company in the USA, shares his experience on Inter:views, episode 75: “When we were 2 or 3 people, you could say it’s my success because I’m literally doing all of this work all the way to sending the invoices and everything else. You grow past 10 people, and you realize the only thing I do is talk to and work with other people to help them with their challenges in the business or working on a problem for a client. Clearly, they’re the ones doing the work, clearly, it’s the people who are making this successful.”
Indeed, this is how it’s supposed to be.
Except that if you don’t let go of some of your tasks as your company gets bigger, you’ll soon find yourself in a situation where you hit a wall.
We easily get attached to doing everything by ourselves but at one point you need to stop fixing the problems, stand back, and gradually let your people make the decisions for you.
In other words, stop working in your business, and start working on your business.
I remember a client who was supervising all his customers’ projects himself. He reached a point where he realized his position was unsustainable because he couldn’t find the time to do anything else.
So, we started digging and found out he didn’t actually want to delegate the responsibilities to someone else.
We dug a little deeper, and we uncovered the cause of the problem. He was very proud of the high-quality standards his clients benefited from, standards he’d spent years building. The truth was he was afraid of seeing a significant decrease in quality if he was to delegate project management.
So, we worked out a solution to not only ensure it wouldn’t happen but to actually use the situation as an opportunity to increase the quality of services.
And he did. He said: “I definitely feel more in control, of not only the management but also in terms of having more direction – I didn’t have a business plan or strategy – It was very organic the way in which my company came about. So not only did I realize the importance of having a business partner with clear directions, but also it made me feel that I was meeting goals along the way.”
Letting go is one of the best favors you can do for yourself and your business.
The following elements are sure signs you’re struggling with symptom #2:
You’re procrastinating important decisions
You’re afraid of losing control
You’re keeping all the decisions to yourself
You’re not delegating
You’re not accepting failure
Symptom #3: When You Lack Clarity Of Direction
Why did you really create your business? Why do you really get up in the morning and go to work?
The most successful entrepreneurs are driven by impact.
They usually dream big, to the point they want to change the world.
By becoming an entrepreneur, they’re in charge. It gives them control over how much impact they can make. They can influence how things are done; they can challenge the status quo.
There are many ways to make an impact: opening a social enterprise, focusing on a good cause, solving a painful problem for people as well as treating employees, clients, and suppliers correctly.
Entrepreneurs who make a difference have found a reason for their journey (hint: it’s not money). They know why they wake up every morning, they understand their place on earth and in this life. They have developed a sense of purpose.
Japanese people talk about Ikigai. It often revolves around helping others.
Then, they align their company with their sense of purpose, which gives them clarity of direction, which in turn, helps them attract the right people because clarity helps with their message.
I’ve interviewed more than 100 entrepreneurs on my podcast Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code. Purpose or impact are the words that come back the most often, together with resilience. It’s such an important topic that I’ve dedicated entire episodes to it (check out episodes 45 and 86 for instance).
Your purpose - that one thing you're meant to do - comes from a place of passion and authenticity. The clearer you are within, the clearer you’ll be outside.
Let me give you an example. I was born to help people. I just can’t help it, it’s stronger than me.
I especially love all those “aha” moments my clients get when they have a breakthrough during a coaching session or a training course.
Doing what I do enables me to lead entrepreneurs to those moments over and over again.
It’s my greatest reward. And it’s my beacon.
Annissa Desphande, a Modern HR Advisor and Coach, highlights how important the sense of purpose is in Inter:views, episode 80: “You continually have to be thinking about: Why do people come work here? What is it about the work we’re doing, the purpose, the mission, what is it about the problem we’re solving, what is it about the leaders we have, what is it that makes this place unique?”
The following factors should mean you’re almost certainly battling symptom #3:
You’re not sure where to take your business next
You have other people telling you what to do and you start playing their agenda, not yours anymore
You’re lying to yourself and you’re losing what makes you, you
Your business isn’t aligned with your uncompromising principles
Entrepreneurship Is A Mindset
According to data I’ve found online, a start-up only has a 0.00006% chance of becoming a unicorn!
That’s just 3 out of every five million companies!
Yet, the media (including social media) continues to push the idea that anyone can become a millionaire business founder.
That anyone can have it all – fame, money, power.
All without a single challenge in their entrepreneurship journey!
You and I both know it’s nonsense.
You know the struggle is part of the game, a game you chose to play when you embarked on your entrepreneurship journey.
You know the road to entrepreneurship is paved with risks.
Here’s your biggest one: Becoming the bottleneck in your business!
Because when it happens, you’re stuck.
And when you’re stuck, your business is stuck.
Because being an entrepreneur starts in your head, first. It’s all about your mindset.
There’s no difference between you and you’re business. You ARE your business. Your business IS you.
So, when you’re striving, your business is striving. When you’re resilient, your business is resilient. When you’re struggling, your business is struggling.
When you’re stuck in your head, your business is stuck.
Of course, you do need business skills to run a company (e.g. sales, marketing, financial management, leadership), but those skills can be taught or delegated to people better than you at them.
And business skills are not as critical as having the right mindset (e.g. resilience, discipline, empathy, endurance, strength). Unfortunately, you can’t just “learn” a mindset, and it’s impossible to outsource.
It needs to be nurtured from within: it’s a personal journey and a life-long process.
Get the help you need to stop being the bottleneck in your business
To be the best at your job of being an entrepreneur, your need to build upon those 2 things:
Acquire the business skills required to properly run a company
Grow your mindset
I can help you in 5 different ways:
1. Listen to my podcast, Inter:views Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code. What’s better than hearing it from those who have walked the walk before you? Every week, I ask entrepreneurs to describe their stories and share the best lessons and practical tips they’ve learned along the way.
2. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter The Entrepreneur Mindset. It’s not going to change your life. But it will keep you informed about my latest articles and podcast episodes and will give you some practical tips and tools to better navigate your entrepreneurship journey. As a welcome gift, you will receive my eBook 7 Tactics To Avoid Being The Bottleneck In Your Business. Subscribe now:
3. Browse my blog articles and further build your entrepreneurship knowledge. Like with everything I do, those articles provide practical information about business skills and developing the right mindset. Plus, they will help you refill your inspiration bucket. I mean, everybody expects entrepreneurs to motivate them, but who motivates you?
4. Grow your and your team's business skills. I can provide both online and in-person customized training courses. My favorite topics include Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Sales, Time Management, and Business Strategy. I can also develop ad-hoc training courses upon request.
5. Indulge yourself with coaching. Coaching, regardless of the specialty, focuses on you, the entrepreneur. Coaching assumes that you already have the answers in you, and sometimes need external help to dig them out. Coaching is the perfect tool to grow the right mindset. My approach to coaching is unique because I combine:
Coaching techniques, using the power of questioning (with great questions come great answers)
Practical advice based on more than 20 years of experience running companies in multicultural environments, and dealing with similar issues to you
First-hand insights I've been collecting through interviews with my podcast guests