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BUILD THE BUSINESS YOU WANT

Stepping Away From The Coalface

Transcript

Hi! George here from Bigger Brighter Bolder.  

Today I'm going to talk to you about a problem that you might not be facing right now if you're an early days business or even a start-up business, however your bigger business, you may well be going through this right now and relate to this.  

Either way, the message today is something you need to be mindful of because it is a problem that we do need to overcome if we want to grow and scale our businesses.  

That message we're talking about today is about pulling away from the coalface. At some point it's inevitable. If you want to grow and scale your business, at some point you'll need to hire other people to come in and do some of the jobs that you otherwise would have done.  

Initially, we tend to hire people to support us so we can do more delivery, more sales activity, and we have other people supporting us - maybe in admin and maybe in accounts and finance, and customer services and other things - but we stay connected, face-to-face with our client.  

And when we're face-to-face with our client, whether it's me as a one-man band, right at the beginning, or whether it's me as a small business where I've got other people supporting me in that role, when I'm face-to-face with my client, it's very easy for me to be able to feel connected to the work that I'm doing, to feel rewarded for the work that I'm doing, to feel love for the work I'm doing, to feel love for the clients that I'm doing it for, and to feel really meaningful and purposeful about what I'm doing.  

It's also very easy to feel rewarded for that when your client says, "Oh my God, you saved my life", or, "Thank you so much for that", or just, "You did a great job." You're getting it first hand.  

As we start to grow businesses beyond that, however, we do inevitably need to start hiring people to do some of that coalface work for us. People to work on projects, people to do the delivery, people to have that relationship with our customers and our clients. And, at that point, they'll get all of that purpose, all that reward, all that meaningful work, and they'll feel very connected to what they're doing. And you want them to have that experience, of course, because that's makes for better employees. It also makes for more fulfilled employees and everything else. That's good for them, it's good for you, it's good for the business.  

However, it's very easy sometimes for us to end up feeling like this chap here, where we're hosting the party, but somehow, we're in the kitchen when everyone else is dancing on the dance floor. Many, many businesses go through this, by the way. At this point, they start to feel very disconnected from their business. They start to feel disconnected from the purpose behind their business. And they start to feel like they're just a business owner or a numbers pusher or they’re like a Harvard MBA, just sitting in an office backroom somewhere, running this empire but not really feeling what they once felt when they were part of that coalface.  

The important thing here is not to reject the growth and scale of your business, it is to acknowledge that you do need that frontline heart if you like. You still need that connection, it's just it's not practical for you to still be on the front line. In fact, as your business starts to grow, you'll get in the way if you're on the front line, but you need to get the hit from the front line. You need that heart to travel back through to you, the business owner.  

You still need to feel connected to the work you're doing in your business. You need to feel connected to your clients and you need to feel the love from your clients. You don't want to get in the way of the people doing the good work for you, but you need to make sure that you still feel it.  

This isn't about taking away from the people that are doing the work, by the way. It's not like one of your great employees does a great job for someone and then you take the credit for that so that you still feel good about yourself. That's not good management at all, not good leadership at all. What you want to do is you allow them to be autonomous. You allow them to have all of that reward and all of that success, and to feel ownership of that entire success.  

You just need to make sure that there is a channel. It's more about what's in you than it is the employee. It's about you making sure that you still feel like you played a part in that success.  

So for me, if one of my employees does a great job, I allow them to have that experience, I want them to have that experience, I reward them for doing that great job, but there's a part of me that also acknowledges me in this relationship. There's a part of me - I don't need them to acknowledge me, I don't need the client to acknowledge me - what I feel is my own self-acknowledgment.  

I created this business, I employed this person, I trained this person up. My business found this client, my business serves this client and this incredible thing that's happened over here, this incredible experience that the client has had, and also my member of staff has had, and this incredible thing that my business has had is because fundamentally I am an intrinsic part of this. I created this, I gave birth to this, and therefore I feel proud of that moment.  

It's a bit like a parent that doesn't necessarily want to be at the child’s university graduation saying, "It was all me, it was all me, great parenting! It was all me!" You want the child to have that success and to feel that success for themselves. You want that pride in you, that connection that you did a good job. What an incredible child that you've raised. What an incredible business that you've created, and you should feel proud of that and feel connected to that.  

You need to make sure that with your meetings that you're having with your staff, that you allow, when they're talking about their successes, you allow that success to emanate also through you as your success. If you stay connected to the coalface, you stay connected to the front line, but you're not physically in the front line, then you do stay connected to your business in a way where you still feel the heart of your business. You still feel the purpose and the meaning behind what you're doing, and it enables you to still be a real force for growth and leadership in your business. You feel rewarded by everything that everyone else is doing, you allow everyone to have their success. You're just take enough of that for yourself, privately in your own mind, right, so that you stay in the game. You feel connected to the purpose and the meaning behind your business, because, if you lose that and you feel detached from the front line, just like this fellow here, you start to end up sulking at your own party.  

I want you not to necessarily be on the dance floor with the kids at their graduation - me, me, me, me, me - I want you to be on the side, enjoying the experience that they're having,  feeling the pride of what you're doing and feeling connected to what you've created. If you do that you can continue to scale your business without feeling disconnected from the purpose behind your business in the first place, without being disconnected from the heart of your business. 

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