I remember my corporate days. I loved the hustle and bustle of corporate life, rushing to meetings, writing reports, presenting proposals, long lunches, the list could go on. But of course, like a lot of corporate managers, I dreamed of escaping that life and its attendant political stresses. I wanted to be my own boss and make all the decisions. I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny – who doesn’t?
Those of us who have dreamed the dream and then proceeded to live it find out pretty quickly that the one big difference between corporates and small businesses … actually, let’s not beat around the bush – it’s a HUGE difference … is that you.are.it.
You see, the best thing about corporate life was the support that a big business can provide to you. I had an IT department to look after all things IT, an HR department, Corporate Services, Accounts … it was all there – at my beck and call. Then suddenly, it wasn’t. I was alone. [cue tumbleweed]
Fortunately for me though, I’d worked my way up from the 16 year old data entry clerk who was hired because she was cheap and a little cheeky. Throughout my career I had worked in accounts, IT and HR. I had an accounting degree and post graduate qualifications in management. With all that and my ‘geeky bent’, I was (not so quietly) confident I could pretty much handle most things associated with running a business.
“Oh yeah” I thought smugly, “I’ve got this.”
But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
To be quite frank: it’s exhausting trying to be Superwoman. I had replaced the oppression of corporate bureaucracy with the oppression of self-imposed small business slavery. The realisation of this sad fact came long before the admission. But admit it I finally did and a couple of months ago I made it my mission to stop trying to be everything to all people.
So a little update on how that’s going, as I promised. In a nutshell, I said I would Document, Delegate and Detach.
- I’ve made a few more training videos, created a heap of written procedures and shared them with the team.
- The team and I have created a roster of tasks.
- Together we assigned the rostered tasks across the team to match their different shifts, which means I don’t have to chase tasks to see if they’ve been done.
- I’ve also handed over some of the accounts work, would you believe it? It was something I used to do after hours … because I could. I now have one team member who looks after the accounts payable for us and another who looks after the follow ups for our accounts receivable.
- As for enquiries, I rarely give out my direct number because my team can answer most of the questions and what they can’t answer, they will either find the information themselves or take a message for me to get back to the caller.
- I have this fabulous arsenal of brain power sitting there within this great team of people – but I wasn’t letting it work for the betterment of the business. I’ve stepped back so the team can work without me. I’m there, on Skype, but I’m really trying hard not to jump in with the answer every time someone asks a question.
- I’ve even taken a few hours off – yes, I’ve actually switched off the computer, unplugged the phone and gone for a coffee with my husband, in the middle of the day! Freedom!
Delegation is not just about telling someone to do something. It requires planning, then action and review. I’d love to share with you some of the tools and techniques I’ve used … and I will. But right now, the latest episode of “The Walking Dead” beckons – there’s nothing quite like a good zombie apocalypse to take your mind off business :-)
In the meantime, have a look at how the Sohovian team can give you back some of your time by looking after your customers for you.