Sometimes the best thing that I can do for my business is to make sure that I am not doing product or project work for clients. A statement about staying away from work seems like the wrong thing to say, but it is true.
My job as a business owner is to make sure that customers receive something valuable that changes their lives. There are two ways that I can do this:
I. I Do the Work Myself
I can do the work for the client. Client work is a simple one-to-one relationship. I do the job, the client pays me for the work. The problem with this approach is that I can’t provide work beyond the hours that I have in a week. If three clients want a total of 120 hours of work in a given week, I either have to turn some work down or do a poor job on all of the work. (I would choose to decline some work.)
II. I Build A System To Get The Work Done
Preferably, I should build a system where the work can be done effectively by other people. If I can create a standard process by which work gets done, it will be easier to scale the work. If three clients ask for 120 hours of work, I simply need to assign the process to 4 different employees at 30 hours of work apiece, and the work will get done.
There are many reasons why we prefer to do the work ourselves rather than building a system where others can do the job. Some of these reasons are:
- There is no tangible feedback on when your process is working. If you complete a piece of code, there is tangible and immediate feedback because the code either works, or it doesn’t. The customer either likes it or they don’t.
- We expect that we can do the work better ourselves. We all suffer from the above-average effect. This phenomenon makes us all feel that we are better at work than other people. When designing a system, you need to let go and understand that two other people doing work at 80% of your capacity is still more work than you could do if you worked at 100%. You must let go of the desire to do everything perfect yourself. You build quality control into the system.
- Systems take a long time to prove themselves effective. Similar to the ‘tangible-feedback’ point. You won’t always know that your system is effective in the long-term until you have waited for the long-term. Sometimes it is easier to avoid long-term investment because we are afraid that it might be a failure.
My job is to stay away from doing work within the processes and spend time creating the processes that will work. If I can design a system that delivers value, I will be much more useful than if I try to provide value one customer-hour at a time.