Don’t Kill The Baby

Every one of us who has loved a product, idea or service enough to start a business around it knows that it is your baby.  In the last 18 years I have watched hundreds of people bring the baby to life and then kill it.  Few of their babies have turned into thriving businesses.

In the planning phase or the gestation period, you plan, dream and sacrifice for the baby to give it everything so that it may become all that it can be.  Opening the business is like the birth of a child.  You are happy and excited but also terrified!  But no matter what, you cannot help but be optimistic about how your new baby/venture will grow.

Now comes the hard part….letting others love, nurture, feed, diaper, teach and discipline the baby.  The most successful entrepreneurs are able to let others care for the baby as much as they do themselves.  They realize at some point that they cannot raise this child on their own.  Being a single parent is rarely ideal and can be exhausting and all consuming.  Just ask your favorite single mom.  Raising your baby with the expert experienced support of others who share your enthusiasm for the baby results in more and better care being given to the baby’s growth and development.  I can promise you that NOT one great business leader has EVER made it to the top on their own.  Building a business is a TEAM sport.  (I am not screaming – just raising my voice.)

Many of my clients have struggled with letting others be a part of raising their baby.  They are so passionate about their business that they think no one else is qualified to handle caring for it in the same way that they would.  Those who are able to overcome this are more likely to build a thriving business that will make it past its infancy.  In fact, entrepreneurs who are able to let others participate in caring for the baby then have time to work on their business instead of in their business which makes it possible to focus on the big picture.  Those who are not able to overcome their need to control every aspect of the baby’s care thwart the baby’s growth or end up killing the baby all together.

What can a business owner do to prevent this from happening?  Here are 5 things entrepreneurs can do to keep their baby alive and have a chance for thriving:

  1. Seek input, observations, ideas and solutions from others.  For many entrepreneurs this is really difficult.  The reasons for that are a discussion for another blog post.  Employees, customers, suppliers and even friends and family are rich sources of information. They can help you see what is in your blind spot if you are willing to listen. If you do not know where to start, cannot make the time or this is hard for you, consider hiring a third party to gather this information.  Our clients have benefited greatly from the insights we gathered by talking to their customers and employees.
  2. Engage your employees in the problem solving process.  Brainstorming with employees at all levels creates a sense of teamwork.  People feel engaged in the process and therefore care more about being a part of the solution.
  3. Hire people who LOVE to do the things that you do not and get out of their way so they can do their job.  Too often entrepreneurs micromanage their people.  It is true that no one is going to do something exactly the way that you are going to do it.  And so what if they don’t?   They may very well do it better.  Is the world going to come to an end?  Hire competent people.  Give them excellent direction and the tools they need to do their job and then leave them to it!  Nothing kills engagement, motivation and the baby quicker than micro-managing.
  4. Have a shared vision.  When employees know what the company’s vision, mission and goals are they will work to achieve them.  However if the “end-game” is not so clear then they will not work as hard.  Whether you are a young restaurant that needs to increase sales by $10K a month or a semi-conductor manufacturer that needs to improve productivity by 5%, your employees will help you get there if they know where “there” is.  Better yet, go back to points 1 and 2 above and engage them in creating the plan of action to execute the vision, mission and goals.
  5. Have processes.  So many of my clients have found that when they create a system or a process for the repetitive parts of the business, they become more efficient and flexible.  This also reduces the dependence on one person’s knowledge or skill.  One of my clients realized an immediate 4% increase in profitability, a decrease in 3-5 hours a week of overtime for 3 of their 12 personnel and a huge decrease in internal strife because their system made it possible for everyone to know where they were in the project.  They stopped recreating the wheel, duplicating efforts and miscommunications and started working together.  Additionally, they started having some fun and found that clients were infinitely more satisfied with their performance and customer service.

Letting others love your baby is not always easy.  But as every parent knows, the more people you have to love your baby, the better chance your baby has at thriving!

Turn Lane Consulting works with businesses, organizations and leaders to help them discover what is in their blind spot and how to utilize that information to build better systems, more efficient work environments and more profitable companies.