Owner Overload: It’s Real

You either started your business from scratch or purchased an existing business. Remember the excitement and drive mixed with uncertainty and doubt? The early years are full of grit and drive. Let’s face it, that’s what it takes to learn all the areas of business. (Marketing, Operations, Sales, People and Financials) For most shop owners, their comfort lies in their technical skills. Most don’t have business experience or training.

July Art Maryann CroceThe Overload Trap

This is when 80% of your time is spent on managing the day to day and only 20% on maintenance which includes strategies and projects that make your business more profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable. Overload can feel as though you’re always trying to get caught up.

1st phase) When you start, you’re doing it all. And you proudly wear it as a badge of honor. “Let’s face it not everyone will become a business owner.” At first the long hours seem like part of the process, and you tell yourself it will get better when…

  • You have more customers.
  • You make more sales.
  • You can hire more people.
  • You don’t have to do it all.

Some owners will realize that you’re tired of giving up a personal life. Your family or friends may be pointing it out or it could be an emergency or challenge that shakes you.

You’re torn because you feel as though you’re busy, having to be on. 24/7, yet you’re not as productive as you want to be.  You may not have…

  • Time for dinner with family/friends.
  • Had a good night’s sleep for a while.
  • Taken a vacation for years.

2nd phase) You realize that the grit and drive will get you only so far. To get to the next level, you must rely on your team to gain back time. The 2nd overload phase is harder than the first because doing it all is your comfort zone.  Many owners have been stuck there for years. Owners tell me “It’s what I know.”

  • “I’m tired of ”
  • “It’s easier if I do it myself.”
  • “By the time I explain it, I could have done it.”

Without good systems and processes in place your team won’t know what’s expected. If you do leave, you’re not sure what to expect when you return. Stepping into the owner role and deciding what you should delegate or outsource is a challenge for the Marketing, Sales, Operations, People, Financials areas of business.

Freedom of Owner Overload

This is the 3rd phase. You shift to, 20% of your time spent on managing the day to day and 80% on maintenance which includes strategies and projects that make your business more profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable. You not only feel caught up, but you are looking for ways to make better use of the time you have available.

The key here is to see yourself separate from your business to gain back time. Having more time in your day will give you the clarity needed to focus on the right activities to take your business to the next level. Most owners only look at their return on investment (ROI). What about your return on your effort (ROE).

ASSESS: What activities do you spend the most time on? How is that working for you and your business? What would you like to take off your plate? How much time will that free up?

Assess your return on all your effort including the projects you’re working on such as systems and processes, hiring, or onboarding. Once done, how much time will it save you? How well would your business run if you were on vacation for a couple of weeks or had a personal matter to address?

FOCUS: Once you’ve decided on the projects or areas to work on, use your calendar to keep yourself accountable.

  • Block out the time needed on your calendar.
  • Set personal and professional boundaries. Let your team and family know you need this time.
  • Let them know the goal and the benefit to them. (Secure and growing business, Dinner with family, A more relaxed and enjoyable you.)

Don’t give up when facing challenges, or the day seems to derail you. Few things are a true emergency. In most cases they can be handled by someone else or later. This allows you to empower your team by giving them the resources, systems and processes they need. It’s also a good way to build confidence in your team. Which brings us to Lead.

LEAD: Whether intentional or not, you are influencing people every day. Your influence can be positive or negative. The choice is up to you. You’re either a good or bad example of professionalism each day. How you show up matters to your team, customers and loved ones. They are counting on you. Be an intentional example. If you see challenges or problems, be part of the solution not part of the problem.

Get the accountability you need because leadership starts with leading yourself. It doesn’t always have to be a coach. You might want to start with a mentor, another business owner you respect, someone from a networking group or faith group.

Owner overload doesn’t have to consume you. Understanding it will help you identify it and navigate through it. Overload will show up as life happens, you challenge yourself or push yourself to grow. Think of it as growing pains to the next level. The goal my friends, is to gain control of it so that you can be the best owner/leader you can, to be fulfilled personally and professionally.

Maryann CroceMaryann Croce, a certified partner of Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year™, is a coach/speaker and creator of ‘3-Day Weekends’ System. Her company Small Biz Vantage specialized in performance and leadership for automotive and skilled trade business owners. She has been an auto shop owner since 1999. 

You can reach Maryann at (203) 913-7741 or maryann@SmallBizVantage.com Maryann speaks on strategies to achieve work-life fulfillment SmallBizVantage.com