The internet is crammed full of advice for entrepreneurs on how to grow a successful business – it’s not a lack of information that makes entrepreneurship renownedly difficult, is it? It’s working out how your particular style and preferences for in with the tried and true experience and best practices of those who have gone before, and how much of it to blaze yourself. Outsourcing the things you hate to do is evergreen advice, but the wisdom you can gain from taking note of the things you hate can be worth just as much as getting rid of it.
For most entrepreneurs, knowing what they love and where their genius zone lies is usually the foundation for starting their business in the first place. The dream of creating a business and a lifestyle around doing the thing you love is the whole entrepreneurial dream. But taking notice of the things you don’t like to do is a very valuable source of insights on your business and absolutely necessary to take things to the next level.
The problems is that when we embark on this road, we quickly learn that the majority of our time is usually sucked up with the things we hate and we find it a common source of stress and tension to be constantly drawn into the things we’re not so thrilled about or talented at.
These challenges however, contain within them a special opportunity, and paying attention to them will reveal the keys for making your business unique, your ability to stand out, build a tribe and to serve your customers better than anyone else.
The things you hate reveal process opportunities
Every business looking to scale and grow needs solid processes and the development of these processes requires some understanding not only of the the task itself, but of its context within the business and its goals. Knowing how to do these things and being forced to do them, therefore puts you in the position of gaining greater knowledge and insight into your business. Knowledge and insight that leads to the ability to formulate essential processes that will create efficiencies, consistency and eventually your own freedom.
Everyone is different with different preferences and talents, but especially when our venture is young, we’re usually all in the same boat of doing lots of things in our business, and often not particularly well.
Bookkeeping is a common one, along with technical work, content and operational management. Most of the time, founders find themselves doing these tasks, when in fact, they’re better off getting someone else to do them.
But when you’ve done this work, you understand your business on a deeper level. This means two things;
- You have a better understanding of what the job actually entails and therefore what kind of person you need to hire for the scope of the role. Understanding these details puts you in a better position to hire the right person and set them up for success, creating a true asset in your business.
- Defining this process and understanding what you don’t like about it gives you more clarity around what you do like to do and where your genius zone really is. Knowing what you don’t want is always critical in knowing & creating what you do want.
Eliminate the unnecessary
Truly understanding that thing you hate to do enables you to find the perfect professional, who loves to do that stuff, to take it over, own it and catapult your business success as your team grows. By doing it, by taking notice of it, even if you hate it, will also reveal not only that which is totally unnecessary for you to do, but also that which is totally unnecessary altogether.
Sometimes, asking yourself whether this really needs to be done at all will answer yes. Yes it does … but not by me. Someone much more skilled and proficient at this task can be charged with owning it and that’s better for you and for your business.
But sometimes, the answer is no, actually. No. There are things that are not really necessary at all. They’re not contributing to your goals and therefore can be eliminated. If your audience, for example, is not particularly represented or active on Instagram, why bother? It can be eliminated and that’s that. But sometimes you will have had to have done it and understood it to know that.
The things you love reveal the genius opportunities
Then there are the things that not only light you up, but the things that you are probably very good at. These are your genius opportunities because it’s here that lies that which can’t be replicated – the things you do like nobody else.
Genius opportunities are often at the very core of why you started your business in the first place. They represent some core value, belief and idea and are encapsulated in your vision. They also tend to the be things that have a big impact on the business and its growth. So where other things can be outsourced or delegated, these things should be hung onto.
It’s easy to tell what they are because you usually look forward to doing them, wish you could do them all the time and when you’re doing them, it feels like play, not work.
This is so important because when you’re stuck doing the stuff that does not utilize your talents, that’s not nurturing and growing your vision, you can lose sight of what does. You’ll begin to feel depleted, uninspired, disillusioned and stressed. This is a massive risk to the livelihood of your business and a huge opportunity cost.
The genius opportunities on the other hand, give you fuel, energy, clarity and focus like nothing else. Not only for the task at hand, the one you’re already genius at, but more generally. Your momentum grows, all things become easier, fall into place and work out. And this is contagious too – your team will become infected with the same vibe and really awesome things start to happen – opportunities reveal themselves at exactly the time that you’re ready to act.
Live by the 80/20 rule
Focusing your efforts on the 20% that you love to do and are really good at is a goal worth pursuing. You might not be there today, but by keeping it in mind, you can move toward achieving it and in doing so, start working better, smarter and more productively. Not just for you, but for your whole team – you need to encourage your people to do the same. This is a cultural strength that will provide your company with a competitive advantage well into the future.
Just stop to imagine that for a minute. You, in your genius zone, doing the work that you love and which lights you up. Everything is easy, everything is working and the opportunities for more are rolling in. And because you were smart about this concept, you hired your people for the roles that best suit them and they’re all doing the same. You’ve created a machine of genius momentum that maximizes everyone’s efforts.
When you load up your people with tasks that they hate, or are just not that good at, often in the name of (false) efficiency, you risk getting the job done poorly and missing out on getting what they’re good at done exceptionally well. Whenever you or any of your staff are working in the 80% instead of the 20%, there’s an opportunity cost. The opposite is an opportunity accelerator.
Inspired action is worth 10X motivated action
There is nothing wrong with motivation, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that inspired action is better – about 10X better. Motivated action gets the job done. It’s accompanied by phrases like, ‘I should …’, ‘I need to …’, and ‘I must …’. Motivation comes from a place and mindset of effort and is tied up in the outcome – you’re motivated by the results, not the action itself.
Again, this is OK. I don’t know how realistic it is for entrepreneurs to expect to be operating in the inspired action mode all of the time, however it’s definitely something to be aware of and to aim for.
Inspired action however, feels like something you can’t wait to do. Something you get a buzz of energy from, something that feels not just right, but gifted. It’s accompanied by phrases like, ‘It would be amazing if …’, ‘Yes, let’s make that happen …’, and ‘OK, what can we do to get that started today …?’. These are the things that are motivating in and of themselves. Yes, the outcomes will be brilliant, but there’s just as much of a buzz around the idea and about the doing as there is in the result.
Your goal is to outsource everything that’s not your core competency
Yes, that could even mean your leadership if you’re better at something else. The point is, you absolutely need to be working in that genius zone, and while that will be different for everyone, it’s still the ultimate goal of every founder and entrepreneur.
The vision has to be maintained. It takes energy and it takes inspiration that’s not sustainable unless you’re playing to your strengths. Smart entrepreneurs outsource and hire smartly paying acute attention to the bigger picture. They’re not too caught up in ego or detail to see where they need to hire complimentary talent and they’re not too precious about someone else taking over their dream.
An abundance and visionary mentality allows them to stay in their genius zone and allow others to do the same. They know that if they can be taking inspired action as constantly as possible, their people will be able to as well, and that building a culture around this thinking is what every truly remarkable company has managed to harness.
The entrepreneurial dream has never been more attainable, but it takes a commitment to sustainably operating in the space of creation, inspiration, vision and leadership to pull it off. Outsourcing alone with the motivation of avoiding the jobs you don’t like is only half the picture. You want to be inspired as often as possible and you’ve got to be smart about the importance of the goal here because it’s not a fluffy nice-to-have, it’s a competitive advantage and an opportunity that starts with you.
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About the Author
Kathy Rasmussen is cofounder and artistic director of Badassery Magazine and cohost of Badassery Podcast. She is a business operations expert and loves helping badass bosses bring their ideas to life.