Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business — and at Entrepreneur.com, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: smart managers know when to let fires burn. Listen to this week’s episode here.
I have never worn as many hats as I do now as the founder and CEO of Due. That’s because I’m overseeing its growth and development, marketing, business strategy and daily operations while still managing my personal brand, networking, traveling, doing speaking engagements and more. It never stops, and I love that. However, trying to continually stay on top of everything and do it well is definitely a challenge. It reminds me I’m human and not a superhero.
It takes physical effort, technology and the right mindset to effectively manage everything there is to do. Here are some ways I stay on top of everything:
Keep to a schedule.
The most important thing I do is have a formal structure to my day. It keeps me on task, especially on the daily operations work I have to take care of, plus it helps me carve out time for taking care of all aspects of the business. I get up and go to bed at nearly the same time every day so that I can stick to a clockwork schedule.
It takes time at first to plot out what this regimen looks like for you. There are also times I do have to make changes to it, such as when I travel or there are fires to put out. However, the main structure always stays so I know where to get back to once the unexpected is handled.
There is no way I could get as much done if I winged it every day and changed when I got up, ate meals and took care of my email, daily projects and meetings. It’s too easy to lose track of what little time you have this way.
It’s okay to delegate.
As part of the physical aspects of tackling everything, I do outsource work and delegate to trusted team members. While I did not always have people around me to help, even a one-man band that is starting small can begin to add freelancers as the budget allows.
It’s important to implement this assistance from the start because there will be a point in time when you suddenly realize you can’t do it all and have to stop to find others who can come on board. Since I’ve always had at least one freelancer from the start, I could delegate more to this person as I scaled up until I could see the freelancer had reached a limit and then I added another.
Physically, I was still tackling it all with my business, but the additional talent that I was managing was handling some of the more time-intensive projects so I could continue focusing on expanding the company. Start with people that you may already trust, including any family or friends who have specific skills that you can work with. Also, add people that come via referrals from trusted colleagues or those within your network. Later on, you can resort to larger talent pools, but I’ve always worked from the inside out of my circle because I felt more comfortable delegating tasks that impact the state of my business this way.
Technology saves the day.
I’m not sure I could actually do everything I do with my business if it wasn’t for technology. It is the true game changer in terms of maximizing time and money. The integrated platforms that I use to track and handle projects, collaborate with others, fill in and file any forms, and communicate with others eliminates many time-consuming tasks. I use automatic bill pay and online payments to handle all my obligations and freelancer payments.
I’ve automated as many aspects of my business as possible. That means that social media is handled through tools like Buffer while WordPress, Google Docs and Slack provide time-saving capabilities to oversee marketing, content and communication. I also have apps for my calendar and schedule as well as use my own time-tracking tool to oversee my productivity. Now, I am adding an AI-enabled chatbot to help with email and other basic correspondence.
Look for technology that takes out paperwork, is cloud-based so you can use it anywhere, and that integrates with other tools so you can remove repetitive tasks and automate as much as possible. It’s essentially delegating much of what I do to technology so I work smarter.
Stay mentally ready.
I’m ready to take on the world every day and am not put off at all by the mountain of responsibilities I have in running and growing my business. My attitude is “bring it.” It’s important to stay positive, maintain a sense of humor so you see the funny side of even stressful situations, and stay determined to make success happen. I also reflect with gratitude on what I’ve done so far. In looking back, I realize what I was able to accomplish already once seemed impossible so when I look ahead and see hurdles, I know I can fly over them.
Surround yourself with positive people who have a similar perspective and enjoy the same adrenalin rush that comes with tackling everything a business can throw at you. I have a supportive wife, friends and colleagues that are just as positive — if not more — who cheer me on and believe I can do it.
Nothing is perfect. Despite working toward that end, I realize things will happen and to-dos will get overlooked in the rush or when the unexpected comes up and takes over. Recognize where these mistakes occurred, don’t beat yourself up over them, and look for ways to minimize or eliminate those from happening again. Everything is a learning experience that has been put in front of you for a reason: You can choose to panic or you can see a way to improve it.
No one can truly do it all, especially when you hit that tipping point of growth when you start rapidly scaling up. However, these tips and having an extremely awesome team surrounding you can make you come very close to tackling everything that is thrown at you and doing it well.