This article was first published in the February 2011 UK edition of Accounting and Business
Q: A year ago, I launched a financial services business and, although we’re winning contracts and building our client base, I seem to be working all hours just to keep up. While I appreciate it’s par for the course for any new business, is there anything I can do to achieve a more satisfying work–life balance?
Julia: You are absolutely right. Launching a new business is tough and the hours are incredibly unsociable – something we’re told to expect when forging our own path in the entrepreneurial world. However, it does not have to take you to breaking point. It is possible to work hard and still have time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. The solution is in effective delegation. Some years ago I sat on a board with a successful entrepreneur. His advice to me then is just as relevant now for anyone building a successful enterprise – the most important person carries the thinnest briefcase.
David: That’s very true, but delegation is more difficult for some than others. Many new business owners become so attached to their ventures, they feel that without them doing absolutely everything the whole company would simply fall apart. Not meaning to burst any egos, but given the right people to back you up, it can survive perfectly well without you at the helm every second of every day. After all, every entrepreneur should consider the fact that delegation and the development of an experienced management team are essential to growing your business, succession planning or maximising the exit strategy potential of your business.
The trick to finding the right people is to create a team that has complementary skills so they can feed off one another’s knowledge and drive. It is said that the business owner or CEO should be the least intelligent person in the room, and that’s because they’ve had the good sense to surround themselves with the best people.
Julia: Of course the other way your business will suffer if you don’t ask for help is that you’ll be limiting its potential. With the right team behind you nothing can stand in the way of its expansion. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs know when to ask for help. They consider this to be a strength rather than a weakness. Ask yourself, what are the things only I can do? Whatever else you are doing in the work day is probably something you can delegate to someone else.
David: There’s more to running a business than struggling to keep up with demand, which is why success often leads to the need for effective delegation. It is a skill to recognise when that time has come, and it sounds as though that time has come for you. So, to take your business to the next level, and for you to be able to enjoy its rewards, you’ll need to find the right kind of help from those you work with or outsource to.
The profit doctors
Julia Payne was a practising City lawyer before turning to business. She had three successful start-ups and exits, and sat on the board of two plcs before becoming CEO of an international consultancy, again with a successful exit.
David Bowler has a background in sports management. He built and exited his first business by 23. He sits on the advisory council of The Global Marketing Network. Incisive Edge provides consultancy, innovation and business growth programmes, working with SMEs to optimise revenue streams and drive value.