Being an entrepreneur is not an easy job. There are so many things that pull at you to spend time and effort and energy to address. How do you make sense of what is important?
Well, other entrepreneurs have taken it upon themselves to try to help you by building productivity systems. People like David Allen, who created the Getting Things Done process or Stephen Covey who created a system around his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Other systems break things down into categories of Urgent/Not Urgent and Important/Not Important. There are many people who swear by these systems as they try to find ways to manage the complexity of their work (and personal) lives. But in the end, you have to find out what works for you. And in many cases, you don’t need a system.
I bring this all up because I have had several conversations lately with entrepreneurs that addressed this very topic, although I don’t think they thought of it in this way. Most entrepreneurs feel like they have to do everything. I wrote about this in my column last week about Superheroes. It is a fallacy. You have to look at where you can provide the highest value to your business at that particular point in time. The area will change over time, as you get smarter, more experienced, more valuable in your company and as your company changes. But you need to make that evaluation every week (at least).
As an example, I know an entrepreneur who, before he started his business, was a top salesman. Loved living the rough and tumble world of no-base pay, just full bore commissions. And he did it for years, attaining recognition as a top salesman and big bucks. Now he is in charge of building his own company. What he needs to do is to sell. What he is doing is taking care of the details of the business. He is doing a fine job of it, but in reality he is the best one to sell his product and service to prospects. But, it seems, he looks at it as beneath him, not presidential and therefore tries to manage a salesman rather than sell. His highest and best usage of time and energy is to utilize the skills he learned earlier in his career to sell his product. At this point in time, he should be the face of the business and help to build a sales team through example, not management. When that is working to his satisfaction, he can find other projects where the value is highest for him to participate.
Look around you to ensure that you have the highest value discussion frequently. Sometimes you are so in the midst of running and building your company that you can’t determine which side is up, much less where your skills could best be used. Take an opportunity to discuss it with someone you can trust who is outside of the maelstrom: a partner, a board member, a mentor, a business friend. Find ways to utilize your strengths and help (delegate to?) others to utilize their strengths in order to benefit the business.