It was three years ago, January 2008, when I heard the words, “there are probably dozens of firms that could use a piece of a COO.” (Thank you, Greig.) That one utterance proved inspirational, liberating, and defining, and has continued to help me grow and focus my work.
Many of the challenges I have faced with Bromberg LLC are the same as those faced by my current and potential clients. What’s the best way to organize the work? How much work can I personally handle? How do I grow revenues and profits? When do I bring in outside help? How do I track and measure performance? How do I put myself in position to enjoy what I do?
My clients typically have additional responsibilities relating to managing people, developing and commercializing products or services, raising money, answering to investors, and more. Their goals involve figuring out how to migrate from success via brute force to a scalable and sustainable model.
Success is within reach for those who are honest with themselves and get help where needed. Show me an entrepreneur who can do it all, and I’ll show you someone whose business will never reach its full potential. There is no shame in admitting to what we don’t know / aren’t good at / don’t like doing. Talk to other entrepreneurs, hire contractors / consultants, and never stop answering “how yes” (versus “why not”). Remember that we don’t have to do it all, we just have to make sure it all gets done.
To help your company transition to a sustainable model, you need to pay attention to:
- How you make money. This may seem rather obvious, but many entrepreneurs get so caught up in the business they never step back to see what is profitable and what is not.
- Where you, personally, add the most value. Yes, it’s important to show employees what unselfish collaboration looks like, but focusing your energies on areas of unique skill are bigger drivers of company success.
- Who can and should do the work. When only the entrepreneur can deliver the product or service, upside is limited. Enabling others to do that work will mean your company and income will grow, even if the work isn’t done exactly the way you’d do it.
- When to hire full-time versus outsource. One company’s back room is another’s front room. Focus on your front room and the direct support for that activity, and subcontract the rest.
- How to maintain a positive work environment. The best quality and productivity come from folks who are enthused about and aligned with the work they do – those who see their jobs as interesting, challenging, and fun.
Starting a business seemed like a daunting proposition. But it is just as daunting to keep it growing successfully. Over time, by staying focused on the goals, remembering what I do know, and getting help I’ve achieved a success I’m proud of. There’s no reason you can’t do the same.