Let me guess: You’re trying to do everything yourself.
It’s a defining feature of the early-stage entrepreneur. If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably thrive with little structure and a flexible schedule. You just get shit done everyday, all day, right? After all, you have unlimited time! Hiring people to help you is risky, expensive, and it will just slow you down. Sound familiar?
Maybe the lack of structure keeps you “in your element.” It keeps your blood pumping, putting out fires and serving new client demands.
And it all works…for a time.
Eventually, you realize that you’re slipping. You used to be able to finish everything on your task list, but now things are getting pushed off to another day. Your accomplishments used to be fuel for the fire, but lately your energy is crushed by mounting obligations.
Instead of invigorated, you feel tired.
You need help, but you’re the only one who knows how to do everything! And taking the time to teach others will leave you unable to meet deadlines and serve your clients. You are literally too busy to find someone to help you. How could they do it anyway? It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, and it just gets more and more frustrating.
If you’re operating this way, you are not alone. We’re serial entrepreneurs here at Pitch Deck Fire, and the above reads like a historical timeline of every one of our companies…until this one. When we started Pitch Deck Fire, we were committed to building a team we could work with for the long term. A company that has scale, learning, and process built right in.
You Can Do it Yourself
As entrepreneurs, our natural instinct is to do everything ourselves. In fact, that behavior is a big part of what got us here in the first place. We saw a need and instead of saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone did that?” we said, “I can do that!”
So your primary mindset is probably “I’ll just do it myself.” It’s understandable. But at this stage, it’s not doing you any favors. Because the reality is, you don’t have unlimited time and energy. Getting things done in a sequential fashion is holding you and your business back. That’s why at Pitch Deck Fire, we’re focused on teaching and scaling specific tasks and roles. We know there is so much that needs to happen right now, we can’t possibly do it all by ourselves, and if we try, we end up burned out and dealing with a never ending task list. It has not been easy to scale in this way, and we still face daily struggles to get it right—but it’s crucial for our growth.
This is a revolutionary time for businesses across the world. The cost of starting a business, launching a website, and building a team is lower than ever. And for many businesses, administrative and infrastructure costs are variable to the number of users, employees, and usage. There are more possibilities than ever before.
So it’s easy to get to this stage of “Thanks to tech, I can do it all by myself!” But then what? How do you grow? You need time to actually stop working for a second, think about what you want and why you want it, and gut-check the decisions you’ve made. (Not to mention, you need some time away from work! It’s crucial for avoiding burnout—another affliction common to entrepreneurs.)
Just Don’t Do it All Yourself
It’s easy to just keep plugging away. Finish checking off the to-do list. It’s instilled in us from an early age: work, save, retire. Taking time out for anything else was unheard of. Leaving a nine-to-five job was frowned on, and people who did so were labeled as “undependable” or “risky.” But the world doesn’t work like that anymore.
Thankfully, the social stigma around nontraditional jobs is changing. People are now more likely to have several careers throughout their working lives. We have the unprecedented ability to start companies with very little capital investment and build brands out of ourselves. As entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s easier to start and run our own companies profitably.
But this ease comes at a high price. It’s easy to get in, but it’s also easy to get in over your head—fast. Not having the right scale built from the start will damage the overall trajectory of the company. The solo-preneur who cannot let go is a common stereotype. He takes on too much himself instead of building a team. But strong teams are the key to great business. Whether large or small, the ability to successfully manage your team is one of the main predictors of success. Team efficiency is crucial for the success of your organization.
Find Your Why
Work is more fulfilling when it’s tied to a deeper goal—a “why.” This deeper goal goes beyond superficial things. For the most part, why you choose a specific business or career path has less to do with earning money than it has to do with your values. After all, we all need to work and pay bills. But why do you choose to work on this particular issue?
Finding the why to your work will be useful in many ways. Those who know their why can better sustain themselves through hard times. It helps you navigate tough decisions, and stay true to what you really want. It’s easy to get distracted with so many options, but knowing your why really gets to the principle of the matter. It helps you narrow down options, and start saying no to the things that don’t really fit your values and goals.
Ultimately, knowing your why can make all the parts of your work fun and exciting. You’ll gain focus and motivation from the legacy you’re building.
Find your why, and what is driving you, by trying simple exercises like the five whys, where you can drill down until you discover the core motivation behind your goals and desires. Books like Simon Sinek’s Start with Why can also help develop your understanding that your why is at the core of what you do and how you do it, as a business and as a person. Before taking the next step, you’ll want to make sure you can answer these questions:
- What are your deeper whys, and how is your company fulfilling them?
- How can you help your team members uncover their whys?
- How can you better demonstrate your why, and how it aligns with the company’s why?
Share Your Why with the Team
Show your team how you found your why, and what it means to your company and clients. It will help your team rally behind the work that you all do, together. Helping them understand the company’s core principles and overall mission can give them direction on how to accomplish the things you need them to accomplish in their day to day work. Getting everyone to buy into the why behind their work is a powerful motivation. It will foster deeper relationships, more committed team members, and proactive, higher-quality work.
Then in the future, when you’re building processes and teaching team members to do the things that you’ve been doing yourself, there will be a common thread of meaning behind those actions. And you’ll build a team with ownership over their tasks and agency over their piece of your business. You get to share it. It’ll be “our” business, not “my” business.