There’s a saying that never sat very well with me: “Work smarter, not harder.” It presents a false choice. It’s not one or the other, and no entrepreneur starts a business because he’s lazy. It’s quite the opposite.
So how about working smarter and harder?
Like many sole proprietors (and control freaks), I find myself immersed in every facet of my business. When the week begins, I prepare for all my meetings, send out my regular emails, and get ready for productive and profitable days.
Whenever my phone rings, it usually means I’ll have more work to do. But what happens when I have to travel? What happens if I’m off doing investment research and someone calls the office? This is a big problem for control freaks like me. We tend to be almost completely insourced, meaning that we do every task ourselves. (After all, who can do it better than we can?)
A couple years ago, I decided to outline all the tasks and responsibilities of my business and determine how each could be best achieved using one of three methods: insourcing, outsourcing, or technology.
Luckily, technology is at a point that makes many necessities of a business not only easier, but cheaper than ever before. From e-faxing, Google Apps, VOIP, and cloud computing, there really isn’t much excuse for not adding a ton of efficiency, mobility, and accessibility to your business.
Outsourcing has been popular for many years, and that probably won’t change any time soon. You can even outsource a COO now. It is a necessity to companies without the budget or full-time need for many aspects of business operations and intelligence.
One of the biggest challenges to any business is the decision to insource responsibilities, either by doing them yourself or hiring staff. Us control freaks have a hard time turning those responsibilities over to other people, but the truth is that if you don’t you’re holding back the growth of your business. Your time is worth more than you think.
Once I realized this, I decided to hand some responsibilities to other people so many of my non-productive tasks will no longer be on my plate and I can focus on the critical aspects of my business. This isn’t a way for me to work less. It’s a way for me to work even harder by being smart enough to only work on the things that only I can do for my business.
My fellow control freaks, it’s time to let go.
By Peter Blok