Almost ten years I launched Momentum Consulting to fill the need of small and mid-sized companies for a consistent marketing and advertising strategy. Originally, the digital marketing company consisted of me, my laptop and our family’s dining room table. The company eventually grew out of my house and beyond what I could do alone.
I waffled between limiting the company to my own capabilities or expanding and hiring staff. About that time I read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. Gerber spelled out my two choices:
- Be a technician. A technician is hands on doing all the work. This business model allows you to only expand to the amount of work you can physically handle yourself.
- Be a manager. A manager delegates the actual work of the company to other technicians while they dedicate themselves to the business of the business.
I just summed a whole book into a few sentences so you know the truth is a lot more detailed than that. I’ve shared these thoughts with friends struggling in the grey area between technician and manager and many have found this book helpful.
Either business model works. As an entrepreneur, we have to decide which business model to follow because we can’t do both.
A technician who brings on more work than he or she can physically handle ends up burned out with a lot of unhappy customers. If they hire staff but continue to do the work themselves, they’ve wasted time and money hiring people without allowing them to do the work. Or they come to the end of a work week and nobody ran payroll, managed employee benefits or sold more widgets.
A manager who wants to run a business but does not hire anyone to build the actual widgets ends up with a lot of unfulfilled orders.
Before we decide to scale our business, we must know who we want to be. Do we want to do all the work ourselves or do we want to lead a team who does the hands on work while we run the business?
Leading a team may not mean hiring direct employees. Creative solutions involve outsourcing work we either do not have time or skill to accomplish. It may also including hiring from a staffing agency to reduce time spent on HR tasks.
Labeling the second option as “manager” is really a misnomer. Managers and leaders aren’t really the same. To scale a business we must become leaders of our people not just managers of them. Leadership includes charting a course, taking calculated risks, setting long-term goals and building up employees.
Sounds like a full-time job, doesn’t it?
When I hired my first team member, I struggled with finding enough work for her to do while I barely kept my head above water with my to-do list. To make our ditigal marketing company scale I stopped before I did anything and asked myself if I had to do this task or if my team could handle this task. If it fell within the scope of work of my team member, I passed it on.
Scaling your business is about letting go and transitioning to the other side of the business. We can’t be both the technician and manager and see our business grow.
Delegating work was one of the biggest challenges I faced in scaling my business. What’s your biggest challenge?