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Our businesses grow when we let go

A hand releasing a dove

It’s a question I hear a dozen times every week: "How do I get my business growing? I’m so busy all the time, there’s never time for growth!”

The answer is right there: our businesses grow when we let go of doing the work ourselves and let others take care of it. It’s difficult to do, but it's not impossible. Time is finite, so in order to grow in one place, we must let go in another.

The items below aren’t in a fixed order, because each business owner is different. It’s a common-enough sequence that you might see your business reflected in the order below.  

Letting go of delivery

Delivery is listed first because it’s the issue many owners struggle with the most. Many of us started our practice because we have valuable delivery skills. Perhaps they are truly exceptional. And our practice thrived as a direct result of those skills. We got to enjoy leveraging our skills, our customers love us, and we made a lot of money. 

As painful as it is to let go of what got you into your own practice in the first place, owners have to let go of delivery to grow their business. That means handing off responsibility for delivery to your most talented folks, and supporting them as they grow into the role. Most practices hit a ceiling around 10-12 people, unable to grow further because the owner cannot stretch themselves any thinner. 

Letting go of sales

This might be all-to-easy for you if you’re very delivery focused (most software engineers have to be talked into focusing on sales). But if you come from a sales background, ceding it to someone else can be very scary. Many gifted salesperson-owners can straight-up outsell anyone else in their organization.

To make matters worse, they love doing the work. Why is this worse? Because it’s hard to turn away from something we’re good at to focus on something we’re not good at but want. (Ever try dieting? Same dynamic at play.)

Letting go of operations

Lots of us with control issues focus on operations. We keep a close eye on the numbers, making sure the cash comes in on time and no dime is spent that we’re not aware of. Maybe it’s because we’ve been burned in the past, maybe it’s just who we are. 

Letting go of operations (and finance in particular) is tough. But, if we’re going to focus on growing the business, it’s something we must leave to others. 

This doesn’t mean we abdicate responsibility! It just means that we leave the day-to-day tasks to others, relying on reports on a cadence to keep tabs on things. How frequent the cadence depends on the risk profile of the moment: when money is scarce, more of your attention will go to the books. But most of the time, you need to back away from them, and manage your discomfort for a time while you adjust. 

What we don’t let go of

No matter how large our corporation becomes, leaders always lead. We’re developing our successors, we’re helping the people in the organization learn how to better themselves so that the whole operation works better. 

Leaders can take comfort that so long as there are people in their companies, they will never stop growing leaders. It’s the one skill we never let go of. 

I work with many owners just like you on how to safely let go in order to drive growth in their businesses. They inevitably come through more relaxed, with thriving business that work for them (instead of the other way around). Let me help you grow your leaders so that your business can thrive! Schedule time with me today to find out more.