Do you ever feel like the guy in the middle of this photo?
Everyone crowded around you, looking and waiting for your decision? Your input? Your expertise?
You might be stuck in the Hub & Spoke trap!
Here at Ferguson Alliance this is easily one of the top 5 issues we help our clients with.
In the early days, many small business owners find being the person making all the decisions to be exhilarating.
Over time, the excitement of being in the center of all the action wears off, and they find it exhausting instead. Especially when it means that you can’t fully take time off. (Did you take a vacation this summer? If you did, were you able to turn off your phone?)
When you’re the hub of your business, you are the key decision maker, and the business can’t run without YOU.
In this article, I’m going to share 7 signs that you’re trapped in the Hub & Spoke – and 5 strategies you can use to escape.
7 signs you’re trapped in the Hub & Spoke
How many of the following are true for you and your business?
- You are involved in most business decisions
- You know most or all your customers on a first name basis
- You are the source of most product or service innovation
- You rarely take time away…and when you do…
- You notice that your business seems chaotic when you are away
- You’re experiencing a plateau in revenue
- You’re feeling EXHAUSTED
All of these are indications that you need to take a fresh look at how you operate your business so that you can escape the trap and get yourself some freedom.
5 strategies to escape the Hub & Spoke trap
Before beginning these, we suggest you give yourself some grace. Each of these can take some time to implement – but the work will be worth it!
1. Check and Update your Processes
Begin by listing all your processes.
Consider your selling, delivery, accounting, hiring, and administrative processes. Start big picture and work your way into the details as you go.
Don’t start making new processes (this is a distraction) – just focus on the ones that are already in place!
After making your list, how many of these processes involve a decision from you before it can move forward?
How could you do this differently to get yourself out of the picture? Ask your team for input!
Delegation is a challenge for many business owners. If it was easy, you’d be doing it already!
Here’s how to make it easier.
Involve your team. Let them know you’re trying to make the business less dependent on you. When you lead from this transparent perspective, they are more likely to see this as “making the business better” instead of “giving them more stuff to do.”
Don’t be surprised if you find they’ve been waiting for you to empower them to take on some of these tasks and responsibilities!
3. Leverage Technology
Building on delegation, what can you delegate out to technology? Social media posts? Inventory management?
What are some areas where you know you could benefit from using technology? Is it your billing? Is it your time tracking? Is it your office supply orders?
What are you using already that you can improve on? Are you already using Microsoft Teams for meetings and now you want to integrate file storage?
What are other businesses doing? Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Technology adaptation can benefit your business in many ways. It is also a great way to create a bigger impact with a smaller team.
4. Engage your Employees
Your employees are the key to making this all work.
Empower your people by having them take responsibility for processes and think like owners. Come to terms with the fact that yes, they are going to do it different from you. Perhaps they’ll do it better than you!
Communicate clearly and often. For your team to successfully take over some of your “hub roles” they’ll need performance feedback. What are they doing well? Where do they need to make improvements? What can be done next differently time?
5. Manage your Time
Effective time management begins with understanding how you spend your time now.
Spend a month studying where your time goes. Track what you’re doing during your regular work hours. Get granular and be honest with yourself.
Once you know where your time is going, start thinking about where you WANT it to go.
Do you want 3 hours of time in your week to work on strategy? Where can you get that from? What are you going to STOP doing so you can START something else?
Encourage your team to look at their time as well. Where is theirs going? Is it where it should be going? Are there functions one member is doing that another should be doing instead?
Assess your progress with a test drive: take some time off
Once you’ve made some progress towards the above strategies, it’s time to test your new freedom.
Take some time off!
Schedule a short break. Pick a time that feels comfortable…maybe 3 days.
Let people know you are going to be away. Your team for sure, maybe customers or suppliers.
Establish a “break in the event of an emergency plan.” This gives everyone, but mostly you, peace of mind that if something really needs your attention they will reach out.
Then just be away.
One of the hardest parts will be some FOMO (fear of missing out).
Your business will be open and running without you. You’ll be wondering:
- Is everything OK?
- What emails do I have?
- Who needs me?
YOU NEED YOU!
Try to relax and enjoy your time off.
When you return, debrief with your team.
Even a short time away will surface additional issues that you might not have considered. It will also give you confidence that – yes! – it is possible to set things up so that your business can run without you.
Implementing everything on this list can take some time, but it’s worth it.
If you’d like some help with it, book a call with one of our advisors.
Looking for a deeper dive into this topic? Check out our webinar recording in our learning library. Get it for free below.
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