Bill Keen is the Founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors and the Best-Selling Author of Keen on Retirement.
When you start your own business, it’s an amazing feeling — having years of hard work validated with a place that is yours to run and build as you see fit. But feelings of joy and pride can quickly turn to feeling worn down, scattered and burned out as you get going and realize you’re doing everything in the business: answering the phones, marketing, fixing the computers, writing up contracts, sweeping the floors, even making the coffee.
Beyond robbing you of the joy you once felt toward your business, getting bogged down in every mundane activity keeps you from being able to focus your time and energy on the activities for which you’re best suited — the ones that drive real results for your business.
Yet many entrepreneurs persist on the hamster wheel of misery, afraid to bring on people who would not only be happy to take work off their plate but would do it better (or at least more efficiently) than the business owner because it’s their area of expertise. There are many reasons entrepreneurs won’t surrender the reins, including a need to feel in control, but I believe there’s one false narrative that keeps business owners from getting the help they need: Many entrepreneurs see hiring as an expense rather than an investment.
Will your bottom line go backward when you bring someone on? Temporarily, yes, but in the long term, hiring the right people and delegating activities to them that are sucking up your time creates leverage for the business and allows you to break through plateaus.
Of course, this begs the question: What’s the best way to find the right people for your business? There are two steps to this process. One involves a mindset shift, while the other involves taking a step back from the grind to work on your business, not in your business.
Focus On The Who, Not The How
There is a critical mindset shift entrepreneurs have to make when it comes to hiring that I saw articulated very well in Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy’s book Who Not How. (Full disclosure: Author is a participant of Sullivan’s Strategic Coach community.) The authors discuss how procrastination for entrepreneurs is a good thing. That sounds weird, right?
We usually think of procrastination as a bad thing, but when you’re an entrepreneur, it can actually save you lots of misery. That’s because when you create a vision for what you want your business to become, you’ll immediately jump to, “How am I going to make this happen?” For most, this is where they procrastinate because they know they will have to learn new skills or add new capabilities to their business to achieve this vision. So, they sit still.
This failure to move is actually good because it keeps the entrepreneur from trying to figure things out as they go. But that’s when a critical shift must happen: going from how to who. Rather than thinking about how the vision will be achieved, we as business owners must shift to thinking about who we can bring on to make it happen. Who has the skills and experience to not only make the how happen but love every step along the way?
This shift will help you decide where to hire first and who to hire. I speak from experience; even before reading Who Not How, I used this approach in my business, starting with my first hire.
Laying The Groundwork For Your Future Success
Shifting from how to who is the first piece of hiring for your business. The second step is defining your mission, vision and values. This work must be done before you bring anybody else onboard because these three pieces form the foundation for everything you do. Combined, they’re the North Star you can look to when things feel crazy or uncertain.
Right now, that knowledge likely exists only inside your head. When you start hiring people, they can’t read your mind, which means you have to articulate these three critical pieces. After all, you can’t point people to the North Star if there’s nothing for you to point toward.
There are various ways to define mission, vision and values, but here’s what I like to use:
• Mission: What our business exists to do.
• Vision: The future we’re striving to create (the why behind the what).
• Values: The traits we want our business to be known by.
Your values should reflect what your business is, not what it aspires to be. They’re a promise to your customers of what you stand for, and if you can’t deliver on that promise, you’re sunk.
I know this step might sound difficult to execute. Where are you supposed to find the time to define these three pieces? I’ll reiterate here: Don’t look at this as costing your time; look at it as an investment of your time. By doing this work, you’re investing in your future success.
Yes, you can hire without defining your mission, vision and values, but a likely outcome if you go that route is a high turnover rate for your first hires. Why? Because you didn’t have a standard to measure new hires against to see if they fit your business, and once you hired them, they had no idea what the standard was that they were supposed to measure up to.
Hiring Done Right
Hiring is your ticket out of the weeds of your business. It can allow you to delegate what needs to be off your plate and focus on the unique value only you can deliver. But hiring done right means shifting your mindset and laying the groundwork for your future success.
Don’t worry about how to get from A to B. Find someone who’s qualified, and let them figure it out for you. Before you hire them, paint that North Star in the sky so you know they’ll be a good fit, and they know the what, why and how of your business from day one.
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Bill Keen is the Founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors and the Best-Selling Author of Keen on Retirement. Read Bill Keen’s full executive profile here.