When you first started your business, you were likely the glue that held everything together. For the first few months or years, you were probably the center of operations and if you failed, your business would fail, too. Instead of enjoying the freedom and flexibility of being your own boss, you may have shackled yourself to your desk working nights and weekends to keep your business operational because you may have believed your business would fail without you.
As the CEO of Infusionsoft—which offers sales and marketing software for small businesses—I struggle with shutting off work to be present with the people whom I love, just like many entrepreneurs. It takes commitment to develop the habit of leaving work on time, ignoring my cell phone and enjoying the few short hours I have with my family. But I couldn't keep that commitment without the right systems in place. You probably won’t be able to, either.
Hire for the Best Fit
New people that join your company may affect your culture either positively or negatively, so it may help to put a system in place to hire for fit. A behavioral interviewing process may include questions and activities related to your purpose, values and mission. It may take more time to find the right person—it took me years to find the right chief financial officer for Infusionsoft—but you may be more confident that you've hired diligently.
The strength of a business often relies on the diversity and similarities of talented people that work for you. This applies not only to employees, but also contractors, vendors, freelancers and other non-employees. Hiring for fit often isn't just about finding a great full-time employee. It may often be about surrounding yourself with people who are committed to the vision and serve with passion.
Delegate and Let Go
You may be in the center of operations if you can't find people whom you trust and can delegate to. You may end up finding yourself stuck doing everything, constantly working in your business instead of on it. When you take on everything in your business, you might limit growth by the number of hours you have to give each day. Delegating may help.
A few years ago, I asked an employee to temporarily lead the sales team while I searched for someone with more experience. That employee worked diligently to implement scalable systems and processes that increased efficiency and improved the customer experience. Ultimately, I decided to stop looking for a replacement because I already had him on my team. Delegating that responsibility was one of the best decisions I made for the sales team.
Getting rid of the belief that you're the only one who can do it right or that others will fail may prove key. Each individual on your team likely has a unique and special skill. Fostering an environment where employees are empowered to do the work and thrive with their own native genius may help. Once you've hired for fit, the next steps are usually to onboard, train, delegate and empower employees to make decisions.
Automate What Takes Up Your Time
Time is among the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face. Following up on leads, ensuring customers are happy and building new relationships takes time. Wouldn't it be great if there were more of you to go around? Implementing a system to put your mundane, time-consuming tasks on autopilot may help you spend your time working on the highest priority items. For example, instead of manually sending out responses to a request for your latest e-book, you might use marketing automation to create and distribute a series of emails that delivers the e-book, asks the buyer to share it and then offers a great deal on a related product.
As you consider a system for your business, it may help to consider the things that would free up your time.
Your Business Won't Fail Without You
After a nine-day vacation in Cancun, Mexico, I wasn't surprised to see the company running just fine, as if I hadn't left. The phones were ringing, employees were hustling and the buzz of business filled the building. Infusionsoft isn't going to fail without me, and if you put these systems in place, your business may not either.
This article was originally published on March 26, 2015.