When people think about becoming an entrepreneur, they’re not thinking about working 24 hours a day. They’re thinking about getting to some point where there is quality of life. “Be my own boss. Decide what I want to do.” But how many entrepreneurs ever get there? And what does that have to do with breaking free?
David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. Today, co-host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing the topic of Breaking Free of Your Business. Welcome, Jay.
Jay: Wow, it’s good to be here. Welcome. Thank you.
David: So we’ve been talking about this topic now for a few weeks. And I was wondering, what are your thoughts when you think of that as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, as it relates to entrepreneurs, business owners and salespeople? What’s your initial thought that comes to mind when you hear a topic like that?
What Does Breaking Free Mean to You?
Jay: Well, it’s funny. I think most entrepreneurs aren’t thinking of breaking free of their business. I think it’s exactly the opposite. I’m going to dive in. We always hear that if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you’ve got to give it your heart and your soul. And instead, we’re talking about doing just the opposite. I think for a lot of people, they’re going to hear that and say, “wait a minute, why would I want to do that, even in the first place?”
David: Yeah. That’s a great question. And what I’ve been finding is that a lot of people, particularly solo business owners and salespeople, get to the point where they’ve got so much going on, they’re tied to so many different things that they feel stuck. They really feel like they’re tied to their business. Like it’s an anchor around them. And so the idea of breaking free from one’s business basically means, okay, how can I let go or delegate the things that I don’t like to do? I’m not good at. That don’t generate much money. So that I can focus my time and attention — my limited time and attention — on the things that actually move the needle for myself and my business. So that’s really what we’re talking about here.
Jay: Well, I think it’s fantastic because I know when people think about becoming an entrepreneur, they’re not thinking about working 24 hours a day. I know they’re thinking about getting to some point where there’s quality of life, right? Where I can be my own boss. I can decide what I want to do. But how many entrepreneurs ever get there? Oftentimes they get exactly the opposite effect. Right?
Breaking Free to Improve Quality of Life
David: Exactly. And it’s true of so many people who start a business. And this whole conversation started because of a relationship I have with the guy who wrote the book, The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber. And I’ve been familiar with his work for years. We spoke at a number of the same trade shows.
I had a chance to talk to him and tell him how much I loved the book, The E-Myth. I mentioned that, as a result of his advice, I was able to structure my businesses better. In addition, I was able to buy and sell businesses. I said, “it’s the best 11 bucks I ever spent” (laughs.) He got a kick out of that because obviously, it was worth a whole lot more than that. But over the years, what I’ve realized is that for many of us, the idea of creating the type of business we want to live in is really appealing. But doing it seems to be the part where people get stuck.
Jay: Yeah. And how do you let go? You know, I’m sure you started out as an entrepreneur doing everything and slowly, hopefully, you’ve brought in more staff. But how do you trust and let go? Because for them, it may be a day job. For you, it’s your life! And so, just giving those little pieces of responsibility away, it’s difficult.
David: It is very difficult. And for a lot of people, it seems impossible. But the biggest reason that happens is that in a lot of cases, what we try to do is to just sort of push it off on somebody and run (laughs). That never leads to good results. So the whole idea of breaking away is okay, how do I do this in a way where I can trust that the work that needs to get done is going to be getting done in a way that is consistent with, if not the way that I do it myself, at least the way that I want to have it done. And in some cases, the people that we hire to do it, ideally should be able to do a better job than we can do. Particularly when we’re talking about tasks that we may not be thrilled about doing to begin with.
Delegation Should Not be Micro-Managed
Jay: Yeah. I think there’s that, you know, giving it to them and then walking away. I’ve experienced just the opposite of that. Somebody who thinks they’re a great delegator. But they’re really not delegating at all because they’re micro-managing you to the point where you’re like, “why do I even have this position?” So I feel like there’s kind of the two ends of the spectrum.
David: No, that’s a great point. It is. It’s two sides of the same coin. So on the one hand, you have people who delegate by abdication essentially.
David: “You take it.” And then there are other people who say, “okay, I’m going to give this to you, but I’m going to be looking over shoulder every step of the way.” And neither of those scenarios are good for anybody. It’s not good for the person who’s delegating and it’s not good for the person who’s being delegated to. So in both situations, in both circumstances, the key to that is really going to be effective delegation.
How can I delegate something to someone else in a way that is designed to create a consistent result in the business. So that I can then turn my attention and my focus on something else? Whether it’s doing something else in the business that I enjoy doing better, or whether it’s finding something else that I can delegate to that person or to someone else so that I can continue to essentially extricate myself from the business.
Many Don’t Think in Terms of Breaking Free
David: You raised a great point at the top of this with is the fact that a lot of people don’t think in terms of breaking free of their businesses, they want to be in the middle of it. But what ends up happening is people sort of end up creating a cocoon around themselves. They’re building this thing around them and they’re in the center of it. And they get all their people coming to them and asking them questions and everything has to go through them.
Well, what happens if you have to go on vacation? Or what happens if you’re sick for a few days, or if you have to be out of the office? That’s not the kind of business that is really sustainable at that point. Because it’s entirely dependent on the business owner. I refer to it as a “You-Centric” business or a “Me-Centric” business. If the business depends entirely on me, it’s also almost impossible to sell. Because who wants to buy a business that is entirely dependent on the previous owner to make all the decisions and to operate it.
Jay: Yeah, it’s a great point. I think what I see a lot is people saying, “Well, I’ll delegate when I find the perfect employee. When I find somebody who looks at things the way I do, and they have the same passion that I do.” And you and I both know, finding that perfect employee that is going to care the way you do and show the same discipline and those kinds of things. It’s kind of impossible, isn’t it?
David: It really is. And I hate to say that because I want to say, “oh no, it’s absolutely possible!” And I suppose it is possible. But what is more likely, is finding someone, and this is something that I’ve maintained for a long time. It is far easier to teach a good person the technical aspects of a job, than it is to find somebody who’s good at the technical aspects of a job and teach them to be a good person. Right? To teach, be the kind of person that you want to delegate to and that you can trust.
So I think step one is finding somebody that you have that trust with. And then step two is having a process for delegation that allows you to comfortably and confidently hand those tasks off. So that person can do them in a way that, right out of the box, is 80% as good as you could do it. So that you could then provide feedback and input in order to get them the other 20% of the way there. So that within a short period of time, you have somebody who you trust. Someone who’s got the systems in place that will allow them to be successful at the task, which you’ve delegated to them.
Systems Improve Quality of Life for Everyone
Jay: Yeah. I love this idea of having a system in place. I think what happens in most workplaces when something happens, when there’s a failure, they look for somebody to blame. Instead of looking for the place where their system fell down, right? We have to look at our training. Were they properly trained? We have to look at our follow-up. What happened here in the process where things fell apart? Instead of just looking for that, you know, “I’ll put the finger on you, you’re in trouble, don’t do that anymore.” And then we move on.
David: Exactly. And I think the key to that are what I refer to as delegation docs. Delegation documents. Which is essentially a checklist. Or it’s a numbered, bullet-pointed list of “this is what to do, in this order,” in order to accomplish the result that I’m looking to accomplish on this particular task. And they are actually really pretty easy to create. And one of the things that I did in my own business and that I encourage my clients to do is to utilize these delegation documents, to create processes. So you can essentially do the task one last time. And as you’re doing it, you’re documenting the steps. Or you’re having the person you’re delegating it to, document the steps. That’s even better.
And then at that point, you switch roles and you say, “okay, take this list of things that you put together, or I put together, go through it and let’s see what happens.” And then you watch as they do it. That will allow you to find the spots that are unclear. So if they get to a particular point and they don’t understand what it means, or if they start doing it differently than what you envisioned, you can clarify the language at that particular point so that you can get through the document. Then they should be able to do it reasonably close to the way that you’re able to do it. Hopefully, that makes sense.
Jay: Yeah. I really love this. I see a lot of people that are afraid to have systems of discipline or good job descriptions to hold people accountable to, because they don’t want to chase people away. And I’ve found in my experience that actually what you’re doing when you fail to have these systems, is you’re robbing people of a feeling of success. Because if they don’t know what failure looks like, they don’t know what success feels like. So you kind of create this situation where they never know, “did I do it right? Did I not do it right? Am I accomplishing my job every day?” Because that’s something we all want and need to know. Right? I can go home today and say, “I had a list of duties. I nailed it.” And you feel good inside and you like your job.
David: Yes. And when you’ve got somebody who is delegating something to you and they’re doing it, not just the way they do it, but they’re doing it the way they would like it to be done. Right? And so if I’m showing you how to do something and I’m saying, “okay, step one, we do this.” And you’re watching me do it. And we’re documenting it as we go. “Step two, we do this. Step three, we do this.” And you come up with a list. It could be 15, could be 20.
Normally you don’t want to go too much past that. If you do, you want to start breaking it up into different documents. But you’ve got a list of say 20 things that need to happen in a certain order. And you’re watching as I do it. We’re documenting it together. And then I say, “okay, now you do it.” Right? And so you go through the steps and you follow it. And as you’re going through, if something isn’t clear, I can say, “okay, no, here’s what we meant on step four.” We’re clarifying that. And then once you get through it, you know that you were able to do it in a way that I had outlined for you. So we’re both clear on that, right from the beginning.
Jay: Yeah. I think that is just invaluable to the employee. And like I said, their ability to feel successful. And then I think another part of this, and I’d love your feedback on it, is sometimes I do see good systems where they do implement well and they’ve trained well, but they’re missing follow-up. They’re missing checking back to make sure that it works. I feel like a good system has a mechanism to constantly reassess. Is it working? Are things happening the way they’re supposed to? Can we be better? Can we do better?
David: Oh, absolutely. So when something is delegated, the person who is delegating that task needs to at least check in on it from time to time to say, “okay, is this still going the way that it needs to go?” Now, some things that are delegated, if it’s going wrong, you’re going to find out right away. You’re going to find out very quickly. But there is definitely open communication that is required.
If you’ve delegated something to someone, they have to be able to have the ability to come back to you and say, “Hey, listen, I’m running into this issue. How do you recommend I fix it?” So once again, you don’t want to just delegate and run. You want to be able to have open communication so that the person you’ve delegated it to, will feel comfortable that they can come back to you and get clarification on anything that needs to be clarified.
Clarity Creates Feelings of Accomplishment and Improves Quality of Life
Jay: Yeah. And avoiding the worst thing that I see in management and business is where you didn’t train them. And the training all happens when you’re mad at them or disciplining them after the fact. Like “you should have known.” That’s just the worst place to put any employee because they never know when they’re going to get in trouble next. These systems that you’re talking about, bring such clarity and such a feeling of accomplishment. And they know when they’re not performing well, if you’ve implemented them correctly.
David: Yes. And there are really two areas where things can go wrong. It’s either in the delegation itself. In other words, if I give you the wrong steps to perform and you perform them exactly as I outlined it, you’re going to be getting a bad result. But that’s not your fault, because you’re following those instructions. If I provide very clear instructions and you fail to follow them, that’s on you. We need to address that with you. But the advantage of having these delegation documents is that, you know. You know which one it is.
Either I’ve given you these steps, you’ve followed them and it worked. Or, let’s say I give you these steps. You follow them. And it doesn’t work. And you say, “okay, well I followed all these steps.” Alright, well then together we need to figure out what’s going wrong. It’s either something with the process, or it’s the way the process is being implemented. If I just say, “hey, take care of this for me,” and I don’t explain how, then if you mess it up, sure, you’re going to get the blame. If you do it right, you will also get the credit. But you’re not as likely to get as much of the credit as you are if it’s done differently.
Delegation Documents Make all the Difference
Jay: Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing is you’ve now created a training document, right?
Jay: When you’re going to replace that person or bring in another person to fulfill a similar role. You’ve now established how to clearly train them and get them up to speed as quickly as possible.
David: Exactly. Yeah. And that’s the purpose.
Jay: Yeah. So what other things can entrepreneurs do to break away? Any other thoughts on that?
Breaking Free is an Individual Decision
David: Well, I think it really starts with mindset. You have to want to do it. You make the decision. You make the call. Do I want to break free of my business? Or do I want to be right at the center of it? So they think they have to do everything. And they don’t necessarily have to do that. They can if they want to. But if they want to be able to focus on the work that’s going to generate the biggest return on investment. They’re going to have to start somewhere. Even if it’s small delegation.
I have people who say “I can’t delegate anything, I don’t have the money to delegate to people.” It’s like, in some ways you don’t have the money not to. Because if you’re performing minimum wage tasks in your business, you’re not performing the tasks that could generate the revenue that you need to really get your business going.
Jay: Yeah. I absolutely love this concept of breaking away. And I think maybe just doing those things that only you can do that are most important. If you made that list, what do you have to do? And can you delegate away the rest? I think maybe that’s a good place to start.
David: Yeah. And it could be as simple as having somebody do something. It could be a virtual assistant, a couple hours a week. Some people are scared of the idea because they think they have to hire someone full-time. And I can’t afford that. Well, what if you just go to a job site, like, whatever, Fiverr and you hire somebody to do something for a couple hours a week. That can work just as well to get things started. And then as you’re able to see results from that, you can grow it from there.
Jay: So I love this information. I know people are going to want to know more. If they do, how do they find out more?
David: Okay, well, this is a topic that we are tackling right now inside our Inner Circle group. If that’s something people are interested in, they can go to www.TopSecrets.com/ic (for Inner Circle.) That’s TopSecrets.com/ic. Join the Inner Circle and join the conversation in there.
Jay: Well, I have really enjoyed the conversation. I think this is such a beneficial aspect to a lot of entrepreneurs’ lives. I think a lot of ’em probably haven’t even thought about it until you’ve brought it up. So check out that website and David, thank you so much for joining us today.
David: Thank you, Jay.
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