This Is Why Your Small Business Won’t Scale
Hint: It’s not more leads.
More specifically, your business is stuck.
Revenue has been leveling off, profit is either doing the same or slowly declining, and you feel like you’re working incredibly hard without the proper returns on your efforts.
It’s not a happy place to be in.
The good news is that there is solution to your problem. But you’re not going to like it at first…
You aren’t growing as much or as quickly as you’d like because you’re trying to do everything yourself. You are the bottleneck in your own company.
If you’re this kind of an entrepreneur, you fall into at least one of the following three categories.
- The person that thinks only they can do their job and that if they delegate tasks, it will ruin the whole operation.
- The person who thinks they are going to “keep the company lean” by taking on too many responsibilities and by doing so, save themselves money.
- The tunnel vision solopreneur.
Don’t worry. I’ll explain.
First up: the ego monster
If this is you, it is my professional opinion that you need to get over yourself.
Seriously. No matter who you are or how good at something you think you are, there is a strong likelihood that someone, somewhere, is better than you.
Or in this case, can perform the task at hand in a more efficient way for your business.
“But Ken…how do I tell if that’s me?”
Great question. Here’s a good question to ask yourself as a test:
Am I constantly running around like a chicken with my head cut off, pumping myself full of caffeine, barely finishing projects, and generally doing a half assed job at everything?
Look, I get it. You built the company. It’s your baby. Nobody can take that away from you.
But the truth of the matter is, the only way to effectively scale into a larger and more successful company is through outsourcing often and intelligently.
Next in line: the cheapskate
I partially understand this mentality. My company was started with no credit, funding, or outside resources. It has been self sustaining since day 1.
Bootstrapping is one of my favorite words.
But not spending money on hiring the right team in order to try to grow is downright illogical.
Hiring people that are more intelligent than you or more proficient in areas that your company needs is the quickest path to exponential growth.
By spending money on them now, you give yourself the opportunity to make more in the near future by taking away the time you have to spend learning or implementing their skills.
Having said that, if your company literally has no money or is in substantial debt, then that’s a different story. Completely fine.
If you’re in that situation, you need to be a hustle machine and get things back on track as quickly as possible and maximize the potential of your current situation without digging a deeper hole.
For everyone else, there’s no excuse.
Lastly: the unwilling workaholic
What i’m about to describe truly hurts my heart. It’s a sad sight to see.
If you’re part of the unwilling workaholic clan, you likely do the following…
- Own a non tech business
- Aren’t a huge fan of reading about new developments in business or industry
- Work extremely hard and long hours only to make little tangible progress
Starting to see the big picture here?
If you’re this kind of entrepreneur, your issue is that you aren’t even aware of the option to delegate tasks within your business out of ignorance and lack of introspection.
This is the most troublesome due to the fact that you are fighting against yourself but are completely unaware of it. We call this an unknown unknown situation (something that you don’t know that you don’t know.)
Now that you’re familiar with these archetypes, let’s talk about why they matter.
PS…they matter a lot.
Why delegating often and purposefully will grow your business
To delegate, simply means to give a task or responsibility away and trust that it will get done.
If you want to scale your business and create sustainable and continual long term growth, then this is a non negotiable part of the operation. Without it, you can only physically sustain a certain level of work while maintaining quality.
Picture some of the largest corporations in the world. Mcdonalds, Walmart, Amazon. One thing they all have in common? They compartmentalize tasks and delegate those tasks extremely well.
That’s what has allowed them to grow at such a staggering rate (along with incredible leadership, vision, and logistics planning, but you get the point.) If you want to achieve the same kind of growth with your company you’re going to have to understand the following.
It allows you to see the big picture
When you’re working IN your business instead of ON the business, you have a very narrow focus. You're so wrapped up in getting each task and to-do checked off of your list that you don’t stop and assess your performance.
Now don’t get me wrong, working hard and getting things done is not an inherently bad thing. In fact, when your company is in it’s infancy, you’re going to be doing most of the work.
But at some point you’re going to have to figure out ways to remove yourself from all of the repetitive or non essential tasks, take a step back, and look at where the ship is headed.
Does it make sense to try and bail out water from a boat that is about to crash into a large rock?
Didn’t think so.
Delegate or automate as many tasks as possible that aren’t crucial to growing the business or steering it in the right direction. As the founder, that’s something only you can do. It’s also your most important job.
You’re not great at everything
There will always be someone better than you. At everything. Forever.
Let that sink in. Take a moment to sit with that thought and give yourself ample time to digest those words.
You cannot expect to run a company and be every job within the company as well. Yes, your talents and skills were the reason that it was able to get up and running, but they will not be the tools that allow it to reach future success.
As a founder, your primary job is to be great at gaining new business, creating systems, having vision for the future, and quality control. Everything else can quickly be given away to someone who is better than you.
Also, let’s get really real for a second about what you can do…
The truth is, you’re probably not as good as you think you are. Especially not if you’re being stretched to thin with all of the many components of running your business.
Be honest with yourself, think through your true strengths and interests, and get rid of anything where you fall short or aren’t interested in.
You will eventually hit a production limit
Let’s think about Jane for a moment.
Jane owns a popular flower shop in her local area and it’s been doing relatively well for the last two years. She is the sole owner and has one employee to deliver the flowers over the holidays and during busy times.
Everything else Jane does herself.
Jane can make 100 bouquets a day. She works for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Jane is a beast and works extremely hard.
But please tell me how with this system, Jane can expand to 3 new flower shops or triple her sales within the same time period and with the same methods?
Go ahead. I’ll wait…
Times up. The answer is that she can’t. It’s not sustainable.
If you rely on your own work ethic and brain power to get most of, if not all of the work done within your business, eventually you will either burn out from overload or your earnings will plateau. The only way out is to create repeatable systems, and teach others how to follow them.
What you should do after reading this
Go sit down somewhere comfortable.
Get out a piece of a paper and something to write with (you should have a dedicated journal for this kind of stuff by now but that’s for another article.)
Write down every single thing that you do for your business. Every. Single. Thing. Down to taking out the trash, sending emails, and payment processing.
Now think to yourself, what are the things that only I can do as the owner of this company? What tasks do I spend a disproportionately non beneficial amount of time on? If I stopped doing this task, would my profits suffer?
Then, eliminate 30% of the daily tasks that you do.
Figure out how to either automate them (things like newsletters, email, payment processing, etc) or hire someone else to do it (think sending outreach emails, content creation, marketing). Your life will get a lot easier.
Do this once a quarter and you’ll be high fiving Zuckerberg over brunch in no time.