Monday, July 19, 2010

Do Not Get Involved in the Minutia of Running a Business

There are two levers for moving men – interest and fear. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

From employees to finances to marketing, there are so many issues for entrepreneurs to deal with when running their businesses. These concerns are always going to exist, but it is critical that you do not let the minutia overwhelm you.

We were dealing with a very successful entrepreneur whose business was having some sales issues. He had recently moved the person in charge of sales to another position, and now there was no one to run the sales operation. He was the ideal candidate to step in, but he just could not seem to do so.

After much discussion, he finally admitted that he just did not feel that he could step away from running the business to tackle these sales issues. When asked why, he said he felt he had to stay involved in the business or it would implode.

Upon closer analysis, it became apparent that he was involved in every detail of running the business. He felt that it was his responsibility to ensure every mundane task was accomplished.

The true irony of the situation was that he thought he had to deal with every little thing in order to keep his business from falling apart, but he was so caught up in the minutia that he was letting his business slip. Even though he knew what the real issues were, he felt that he could not step away from the tasks that he considered so vital.

No matter how much I tried to convince him to jump in, handle the sales and let go of the day-to-day details, he just could not do it. He was so wedded to what he had done in the past, and he just did not see how his behavior was causing the firm to hemorrhage.

Although we do not know what became of this entrepreneur, there is so much to be learned from his example. Entrepreneurs must continually remind themselves that their time is worth at least $100 an hour. Consider whether the business is getting value from what you are doing. It is so easy to get involved in tasks that are urgent but not important. Reminding yourself that your time has high and measurable value to your business will help you remain focused on those tasks that are in its best interest.

I have found that one of the best tools for time-starved entrepreneurs is a time log. Record what you do every 15 minutes for three days. For most people, this is a very illuminating exercise as it allows them to look back and see how much time they are wasting on interruptions. If you can free two or three hours a week, then you can work on the important elements rather than the urgent ones.

Now go out and make sure that you are doing what is necessary to keep your company viable without getting caught up in the minutia.

You can do this!