Many business owners turn up to their businesses everyday like they are turning up to a job. That is, operating as the technician in their business.
The issue with this is, as the business continues to grow and eventually demand outstrips supply, having the owner as the conduit through which technical information, operational intelligence, and process flows, creates a bottleneck that ultimately chokes the growth of the business. The business will not be able to scale beyond the hard work of the owner.
A vicious cycle then ensues, and many business owners find themselves trapped under what I term the entrepreneurial ceiling. Their business fortunes porpoise up and down based on their energy levels. The challenge is, even if we recognise that we have become the bottleneck in our business it can be difficult to know what to do about it. The first step is to recognise that what got you to here is not going to get you there. To progress beyond you as the bottleneck requires a different approach, a different mindset. You must lean into a new role, a role that is likely uncomfortable for you, a more strategic role.
Rethink and grow your team
A place to start in your business and personal transformation is to draft a position description that clearly outlines the role, responsibilities, and key performance indicators of your new role. Now, with the new parametres set, its time to leverage your knowledge.
To achieve this, other people will have to have delegated operational responsibility in your business. This will be facilitated and controlled through the capture and creation of robust business systems that get the technical expertise out of your head and into an operating system whilst simultaneously building capability in the people around you.
It is important that you make this process as frictionless as possible. Use screen capture technology, video on your phone or some other method that makes it easy to capture your operating system so that in the heat of battle, you have the means to empower your team when every bone in your body tells you just to do it yourself.
Create small wins
If we only focus on the end goal it is unlikely, we will have the stamina to break through. In creating small wins that celebrate progress in the day to day, we can gain the confidence to stay the course. Just like going on a diet, if we can see incremental progress on the scales, we are more likely to be mindful of doing the right things when we are tested.
It might be that you capture three new business systems a week or have your team review a new process then trial it. No matter what it is, ensuring ongoing incremental progress towards taking what you know and transferring it to a business system in incremental steps, instils confidence and shapes behaviour both yours and the teams.
Build a scorecard
There are many parallels between business and sport. In sport, to play without a scoreboard would obviously be a nonsense. You wouldn’t train as hard, run as hard, try as hard. In transiting a business through the entrepreneurial ceiling, a well thought through scorecard helps the owner and emergent leaders understand key metrics in business performance that indicate progress. These metrics will be individualised for each business and are often most insightful when developed with the team.
Liken a business scorecard to the ripple bumps on the side of the highway. If driven upon they dramatically alert the driver that the vehicle has left the road thus providing the stimulus to correct and realign.
Although many business owners attempt to balance supply and demand as they grow, it is almost impossible and if it occurs is generally for the briefest of moments. It is in leveraging the business owner’s operational knowledge and thereby removing themselves as the technical bottleneck, that freedom beyond the entrepreneurial ceiling can be achieved. Whilst for many this seems a daunting quest, the reality is that it is a well-worn path treed by every entrepreneurial business that has scaled beyond its owner.