Yesterday I was speaking to a business owner who hasn’t been on holiday for six years! By his own admission, that was because he doesn’t feel like he can leave the business. He’s worried that if he’s not there things will just fall apart. This is of course very unhealthy, but so many business owners fall into that same trap. It got me thinking about how to let go of control. Here are five steps to do that.
Get Some Perspective
In my experience, most business owners feel they are essential to the business. This is natural. You created this business and you know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. So you might be essential, but it’s not healthy.
The first thing they teach you on a first aid course is to ensure your own safety. If you’re constantly working, you aren’t ensuring your own safety. You might burn out and then you won’t be able to do any work, which is worse than just taking a few days off in the first place.
The second thing you need to do is ask for help. You’re important, but no one is perfect. You may think you’re perfect, but you need to get some perspective here. Just like everybody else you have weaknesses, and for that you need people helping you. That’s the only way you can really grow a business. Anything else is just temporary life support.
Get Good Processes and Systems
I keep banging on about this, but that’s because it’s crucial to any business success! You aren’t the only person who can do the right things the right way, but you might be the only person who knows what that means.
Plan out the steps and write down the processes. Make it crystal clear what every step at every stage is and how to do that step. Do this for every aspect of your business. Then put the systems in place to ensure these processes are followed, even by you!
This could be as simple as some word documents with tick boxes but I’d suggest you go all in. Get a CRM for keeping track of your customers, enquiries and sale processes. Get a receptionist or a call handling company. Get a VA and an accountant.
This will give you the security to know things are being done properly without having to worry about it all yourself. The added bonus is that you will create time to make even more money when you aren’t on holiday.
Train and Trust Your Staff
You might be great, but no one is good at everything. Value the skills and strengths of other people. They have a lot to offer you and your business. First of all make it very clear what is expected of them. You can use the processes you’ve just written down.
Give them all the training and support they need to do their job. Now, get out of their way. You’ve told them what’s expected and given them documented processes to follow. Let them get on with it. People will do amazing things for you if you let them.
Which brings me nicely to the next point.
Be OK With Mistakes
Nobody likes mistakes, yet everyone makes them. Of course, you have to try to avoid making the same mistake twice, but making mistakes is actually a great way of growing and developing. If you’re able to see mistakes as learning opportunities, you’ll be on the road to success!
Mistakes tell you how to get better. If one of the reasons you can’t let go of control is because you’re afraid of things going wrong, let go of that fear. When something didn’t work out, analyse what happened and what you’ve learned from it, decide what you’ll do differently next time and then move on.
Most importantly you need to be OK with your staff making mistakes. This will create a culture of innovation and creativity. If people know it’s ok to make a mistake, they’ll push themselves. If people know it’s ok to score three out of ten sometimes, they’ll aim for ten out of ten. If not, they’ll go for the safe five out of ten every time.
Set Expectations With Your Clients
One of the things the business owner I was talking to said, was that everyone wants everything straight away. Of course they do, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it to them. If everyone thinks you’re available 100% of the time, they’ll expect you to be available 100% of the time, which isn’t healthy or sustainable.
It might also lead people to believe that you don’t have much work to do. People might want an immediate answer, but they don’t expect it because they assume you have a super-successful business which keeps you very busy.
It’s best to be clear about this from the start. Tell them upfront when you will respond to emails of phone calls. Between 24 and 48 hours is a good place to start. Tell them when the project will be completed. Give yourself room to breathe. Then, if you manage it quicker, you’ll impress them.
It’s ok to tell people you can’t do something in the time frame they’re asking for. If you tell them you can and you can’t, you’re just setting yourself up to fail.
Finally, this isn’t really about how to let go of control. It might sound like it and when you’re doing it might even feel like it, but it’s not. It’s actually about getting more control.
• If you’re the person that has to do everything
• If you’re the only person that know how your business works
• If you can’t trust your staff
• If you can’t own your mistakes
. . . then all of those things are already in control of you. If you can free yourself then you can go on holiday or go to conference and training and that ultimately improves your business.
I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but if you can’t leave your business alone whenever you want, you have a job not a business.
If you recognise yourself in this and would like some help to get a healthy perspective (and would like to go on holiday within the next 3 months) then come and talk to me. I offer a completely free 30-minute business growth session that can help you get clarity and focus. Just fill the form on the business coaching section, or simply email me and let’s get the ball rolling.