Here's the short answer to how to grow your business: give up control. Let go. Surrender.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard first taught me this truth in his book, Let My People Go Surfing, when he wrote about his M.B.A.—management by absence. Your business's capacity for growth is inextricably bound up in your ability to relinquish control.
If you're a micro-manager and must have the final say-so on everything, you're probably spawning bottlenecks at every stage of every project. On the other hand, if you look for ways to delegate tasks and responsibilities and empower your employees and independent contractors, then you can call forth and capitalize on their creativity, enthusiasm, and initiative.
The choice is yours: be the spider or be the starfish.
Maintain a desperate, white-knuckled grip, or make yourself irrelevant in the day-to-day operation of your business.
How do you decide where you need to give up control?
Many businessmen who have won my respect have walked this path before me. Drawing inspiration from Charlie Sheen's widely-publicized unraveling, Carl Smith drew a line down a piece of paper and made two lists: Winning and Losing. He decided to focus on the activities that felt like winning and delegate those that didn't.
Santiago Jaramillo differentiates "high-leverage activities" from "low-leverage activities." The former make you money or bring you satisfaction; the latter drain your energy or aren't profitable, even if they're necessary.
Trey Smith gave his parsing process the labels “Work” and "Unwork." The stuff that feels like work he pays other people to do. The stuff that doesn't feel like work he gives all his attention and creativity. His unwork list included music, video games, and television. That list might not seem promising, but Trey has made millions, creating products for television and mobile game development.
Everyone's lists will be different.
My work-low-leverage-losing list included bookkeeping, writing other people's press releases, and lots of meetings. Yuck. I kept blogging, masterminding people's business ideas, and making mobile apps.
The key is creating a step-by-step plan to give up control of the things you aren't good at or don't enjoy. My plan required hiring several people on a part-time basis. My accountant does my bookkeeping. My intern writes the press releases. My assistant attends the meetings.
Funny…business is growing, booming, better than ever.
Want to learn how to grow your business?
Use the "How to Finish Anything" guide (which you can get to the right) to hold yourself accountable.
What do you want to let go?
We'd love to hear from you in the Comments section below.