To Outsource or Not

I've spoken about delegating before, but that assumes you already have someone on your team to delegate to. 

Every solopreneur comes to a point (hopefully) where it's too much for them to do everything. Or there are aspects of your business you hate and can't wait to hand them off to someone!

You've probably heard the saying "time is money." Well, that money lost is the opportunity cost associated with not spending your time wisely.

Here's a simple example. Let's say you're running a coaching business and you feel guilty hiring an EA to help you. Although coaching rates vary widely, to make the math easy, let's say you charge clients $100/hour and that you can hire a part-time EA for $20/hour. What this means is that for every hour you're doing admin work, the opportunity cost (ie, the loss) is the additional $80 you could have made coaching.

If your argument is that you don't have enough clients to fill up that time, my answer is to focus…

Delivering Criticism

Have you ever had a great day ruined by someone's careless comment? Well, if you're the "boss," your words are unfortunately even more powerful.

I remember a boss many years ago who was known to send out angry tirades late at night. We all dreaded seeing her name in our inbox past 8 pm.

And then there was a manager I worked with who would rant at her employees in front of others.

First let me say that there is never an excuse to raise your voice at a colleague, employee, or anyone else in a professional setting. That is unprofessionalism at its highest.

Second, if your goal is to help you and your team succeed, then think twice—or maybe even a third time—about how you will deliver that criticism. I believe it should always be done privately, always about the mistake and not the person, and always about helping them learn from that mistake.

If you're not doing it to help them succeed, then you shouldn't be managing them to begin with.

This also applies to your clien…

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

If you've read any personal development or productivity book, chances are you've been directed to plan ahead and perhaps even move your to-do list to your calendar. And while planning ahead is definitely necessary, life and business will quickly teach you that calendars need to be flexible.

I've actually gone back and forth between various "systems" of time blocking and/or just adding things to my calendar. I love knowing what's coming up and what I should do when, but life and business are rarely that orderly.

For example, I started the new year all revved up with my word "optimize" and ready to start healthy habits, but then I sprained my left ankle. As my ankle healed, my right neck and shoulder started acting up (in part due to sleeping badly and in part probably due to compensating for the left ankle's pain), which means I not only wasn't able to do the 30-day Body Groove Challenge, but also missed going to the gym. 

I won't pretend th…

Forgive and Learn from Your Mistakes

Being a founder or owner is hard enough, and there will be many disappointments along the way, so stop punishing yourself for not being perfect or smart enough.

You're not meant to be the hero of your business, nor the person who knows it all or can do it all. Actually, aim for the exact opposite: surround yourself with smarter people and let them lift you and your business higher.

You're also not meant to know it all. How can you? You're creating something from nothing, which requires more bravery and courage than most people have. 

It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to be wrong, to occasionally be narrow minded, to occasionally make the wrong call...You're human. Running a company doesn't make you superhuman and you shouldn't try to pretend to be that for your staff's sake: they actually will respect you more for being honest and owning up to your mistakes.

Isn't this what you'd want them to do? (If your answer is anything other than yes, w…

Dealing with Disappointments

I had a disappointment a few weeks ago: a client I thought I had won was hedging his bets, so given the situation, it was wisest for me to pass. I didn't handle the disappointment as well as I normally do and ended up wasting most of the day.

Disappointments happen and it's important, as a leader, to buffer your team from them. Luckily I work from home so can hide this from my team, but I will never get back the time I lost.

The key is to let yourself mourn for a set amount of time (even set a timer, if that will help), then take a deep breath, perhaps even reward yourself (whether with a treat, song, extra chapter...whatever works for you), and then pick yourself back up and keep going.

They say it's a numbers game. Sales people talk about sales funnels. Anyone who puts themselves out there—whether to audition, freelance, sell, or get clients—knows you can't win them all and can't mourn every loss. 

As a founder/owner/leader you cannot let disappointments derail you a…

Ability to Decide

If you have trouble making decisions, running a business is not for you. Ditto if you're the type of person who needs to know everything and then needs time to ponder everything before finally, grudgingly making a decision.

There's even a name for this: analysis paralysis. 

Running a business is hard. Leadership is just as hard (and sometimes harder). Both often require quick decisions, which may mean following your gut and making the best decision you can, with the information you have at the moment.

Yes, you may make a mistake but not making a decision is a decision in itself. Think of it this way: Let's say you have an option between two vendors and can only choose one. You need the services they offer but are not sure which one to go with. While you're undecided, the issue you need them to solve is going unsolved (and may be getting worst), whereas if you had decided on one of them—even the wrong one—you'd have learned something and made a step forward.

So much in …

You Are What You Surround Yourself With

Years ago, when I was still single and dating, a man told me that I was too smart for him (wasn't sure how to take that). Since then, I've been told that I was overqualied for a job or two.

Jack Welch wrote in one of his books that ensuring he's the dumbest person on his team is a key to his success. This surprised me when I first read it, but I've tried to emulate it since.

As a CEO or founder, it's even more important to surround yourself with smart and competent people. Chances are they don't want your job, but either way, if you don't hire competent and smart people, you'll need to do their jobs for them and therefore won't get to your job (i.e., you'll fail the delegation test). 

And just like you are what you eat, I think that your intelligence and competence rises or falls based on who you surround yourself with. If you're around ambitious, go-getters, you'll be motivated to get off your arse and get things done (or will stop hanging…