At the beginning of 2020, the BEIS (Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) found that the number of private sector businesses in the UK was 6 million and of those 99.9% were SME’s – small to medium sized enterprises. There are many positives in being a business owner – you are your own boss; you have flexibility; you can take control over the decision making process. Also, you have the independence that comes with that, the financial rewards, and the opportunities to innovate.
With this comes risks – financial risks which can be acerbated through lack of planning and a poor strategy, commitment of time – some of which can be wasted on tasks that do not fall into your area of expertise, and a lack of work life balance all of which have the potential to increase stress.
The risks can be driven by an SME owner attempting to take control all areas of the business and complete all tasks themselves in a business that may require several areas of expertise.
These can include strategist and business planner, finance and accounts including taxes, IT, marketing and sales including social media, customer relations, supply chain, people management, HR and HR admin, Health and Safety and all other areas of compliance including data protection!
Research conducted with 500 owners of small businesses employing up to 30 people found that:-
- SME business owners thought that they could delegate more to improve the way that they manage their business
- UK SME’s need to delegate more and only have daily involvement in the activities that truly need their expertise
- By reducing involvement in wider business activities and empowering their teams to complete these tasks will help build trust and relieve pressure
As Your Company Grows
As your company grows so will the skills required to effectively manage it. It can be a real struggle to relinquish areas of control, especially after it has taken you so long to take control. You have worked hard on growing your business from concept to where it is now.
The question is … when do you stop trying to do it all? Whilst there is no definitive answer, you could argue that it is when the value of your time exceeds the cost of the activity that you are carrying out.
What are the risks of doing it all yourself?
- You can spread yourself too thinly – may not be able to focus fully on the task which may then not be completed to the standard required.
- Not one person can be an expert at everything!
- Doing it all yourself results in you focused on the priorities dictated by today and not tomorrow’s goals.
- Core revenue generating tasks may be pushed to one side whilst you are focusing on management and admin tasks.
Relinquishing Control and Delegating
There are many benefits of delegation to members of your team. It not only releases your time to focus on other areas but increases the engagement of your employees.
Being employed by an SME has many positives! They are often flat in structure and employees have the opportunity to make suggestions and mould their roles. People can see how their input directly impacts the running and success of the business and they feel involved.
Feeling involved, trusted and part of the bigger picture will retain your talent and as the business grows so can their roles within the organisation. You, therefore, retain their knowledge, skills and good will!
It is important that you provide your key people with the skills and confidence to perform in their roles. The time invested in training will be returned when your team are able to take control and you have the confidence in their ability, delegate and let go.
As well as operational skills, where you have employees that may be responsible for managing people it is key that you develop their skills in leadership and management.
Give them the confidence and tools to, for example, manage performance, give feedback, nip issues in the bud. Providing them with these skills will minimise risk, prevent time being taken away from the operation and create a culture of fairness and engagement leading to increased productivity.
Bringing in an Expert
There are likely to be areas of your business that you or others do not have the expertise or time to manage effectively. In these areas the cost of time required to focus on this area or getting it wrong will outweigh the potential cost of bringing in an expert, consultant or service provider.
External providers provide high quality outcomes quickly and at minimum risk. It is their responsibility to be the experts to allow you to focus on the areas of your business that will bring you reward and play to your skills.
They give you the time back to focus on your business whilst providing you with the advice and information you need to make informed decisions.
Owner managers may have limited experience of managing people. In our experience when we talk through business challenges, we will often find the challenges are related to people and resource, whether that be, for example, resourcing, structure, retaining staff, dealing with conflict and absence management.
Here at Wurkplace our main purpose is to work with SMEs to take the risk out of their business – providing expertise in HR, Health and Safety and Payroll.
We also champion employee development in key leadership skills and recognise the importance good solid employment practices.
There are many benefits to owning and managing a business. Take time to reflect on where you are focusing your time. You don’t have to go it alone! Utilise the people around you and experts to allow you to focus on what you do best. Making sure that you have time for you and that you enjoy your business and the journey it is on.
With over 20 years HR generalist experience across all disciplines, Sarah has worked across a number of business sectors and understands the importance of robust and practical HR processes and trained, motivated and engaged people in delivering business success.
As Wurkplace’s Head of HR, she is passionate about both providing the best HR service to our Clients as well as recruiting, developing and retaining the best team.