- The numbers will tell you when the time is right to grow
- With that growth must come delegation or you’ll be overwhelmed
- Give trusted staff responsibility for an account or department
- Maintain overall quality control
Your business can be a little like your baby. You want to take care of it and don’t really trust anyone else to look after it like you can. But letting go and delegating responsibility is a crucial part of being an entrepreneur who leads a growing business.
Julie Cheetham co-founded BURN, a marketing agency, six years ago. “When we started, my co-MD and I did absolutely everything,” she says. “The important thing is this means you get to learn every aspect of your business. Unfortunately, issues develop when you’re potentially slowing growth by holding on to too many hats.”
According to Julie, the numbers will tell you when it’s the right time to start delegating some responsibility for certain sections of the business. The company needs good profits coming in, or at least a solid forecast predicting that this will be the case.
“The statistics for business failure are shocking,” Julie says. “You need decisions to be driven by numbers – the profit has to be there in order to take on more people.”
But when the business’s staff does grow, entrepreneurs can still be hesitant to hand over some control to others. “All business owners have a tendency to micromanage at first,” Julie says. “You care so much about getting it right and we were guilty of that to a certain extent in the early days.”
To drag herself away from this, Julie identified areas in which recruitment was needed and that could benefit from greater autonomy. “Responsibility really motivates people,” she says. “In our business, you set up account teams and give certain people responsibility for each client.”
But finding people you can trust isn’t necessarily easy. Many entrepreneurs go back to their network and hire former colleagues or take their recommendations. “We’ve also found temp-to-perm useful,” Julie says. “You get to make sure that people’s skills and cultural fit are right. It’s also important to find a recruiter that really gets what your business is about. We’ve found one that understands us and actually sends us CVs from the right people.”
Julie thinks she’s found a good balance between delegating responsibility and maintaining overall quality control. “I need to see all concepts or creative briefs before they go over to the client,” she says. “And my co-MD and I discuss the growth and vision of the business as a duo.
“We’d still like to step back more – but 95% of small-business owners would say the same. There are always curveballs that come in and you have to firefight, but the stepping back comes from giving even more trust to the next layer.”