Lately, networking has become my biggest challenge. I am overwhelmed and soaked up from the pressures of keeping my business scaling up. In the past I have met many amazing clients and partners but I can’t seem to maintain contact with them. I work with an amazing team; they do their best and work their heads off. But they still need me daily to reach our targets. How do I find the time to expand my network and business?
Under Pressure Berkeley, CA_
Dear Under Pressure,
You are not alone in feeling pulled in all directions. First, great that you realize the importance of business development for your company. I see too many founders trying to stop growth while fixing internal problems. That is rarely a course of action I would recommend.
Second, I would think of this as a delegation choice. To keep it simple: a choice between business development and operations. What do you want to delegate first? You could hire a head of sales/CRO or a head of operations/COO. Either would ease your burden and let the company be better at both functions.
Third, over time, as a scale-up leader you delegate every function of the business to someone else. How good have you been at that so far? You say your amazing team still needs you daily. Have you delegated in the form of
- assignments–individual tasks that need your constant supervision and approval?
- areas of responsibility–overarching functional metrics that remain open in the what and how?
The Functional Accountability Chart is a great Gazelles tool. It can help you and your team assign true areas of accountability. I use it in all my client workshops, before we even start on the One-Page Strategic Plan. In your next workshop, reserve 1-2 hours to complete this exercise:
- It lists actual business accountabilities typical for every Scale-Up. This helps to see beyond arbitrary titles that people on your team may have acquired.
- Have every individual fill out the responsibilities as they see them. Most teams show much inconsistency, explaining the constant back-and-forth in day-to-day problem-solving.
- Discuss to reach consensus on which name should be in which box. Avoid the same person in several boxes–and identify the names that did not make the list.
- Once you have consensus on the who/what, move to the how. I like to start with a lagging metric for each function. Ideally one from the P&L statement or the balance sheet. Let people fill out their individual opinions again before you discuss in group.
Finally, is it better to let go of business development or operations first? My trick answer is: try both at the same time. With your new accountability chart in hand, find a delegate for every aspect that is not “head of company”. Assign to someone below the management team if you don’t have the right person within. Delegate a large enough area of accountability to them, and see what they have in them. You may surprise yourself and the team and save a costly external hire.
Relieve the Pressure!