Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I was thinking about the launch of my new business offering for solo entrepreneurs and my continued work with executives, and the word “scale,” as in “scalability,” kept popping into my head. For fun, I looked up the definition of “scale” and learned that it has a lot of meanings, including that stuff that killed a couple of my large outdoor plants this year, to the scales that I practiced on the piano so many times as a girl, to the one that seems to groan at me when I step on it after Thanksgiving.
The definition that really resonated with me, however, is this one: to scale is “to climb or ascend; to rise in steps or stages.” (TheFreeDictionary.com) What I know to be true after working in leadership roles and also starting my own business years ago is that there are only so many hours in a day, and at some point, there is no way to make more of me to go around. The only way to scale is to leverage time and other people to truly climb or ascend to larger goals and better outcomes.
See if this resonates with you. You are the best person for the job because of your vision, technical expertise, years in the business, all of the above or something else. You have a proven track record for success, and you are valued by others, who might be customers, employees or a larger community. You are drawn to take on more and say “yes” to things that perhaps are not the best use of your time, like a June Bug is drawn to the light over your front door. Then you wake up one morning so tired that you can’t move, with a full calendar and no end in sight. And the real kicker is that you’ve been here before; you recognize the symptoms and wonder how to end this cycle of doing more and still not having the breakthrough that you want.
What got you here won’t get you there.
Notice whether your answer too often to the question “Who will get this done?” is “ME!” Sometimes our habit is to over-promise and over-commit, which means we set ourselves up to do less than our best work. Or we always seem to pull it off, but at great cost to the mental and physical well-being of ourselves and others. I recognize and own that habit, hence the girl with the cape in my logo.
Here are a few questions that might give you some insights into how to shift your focus to help you scale yourself, your business and your team to achieve more with less stress and better outcomes:
- What is the most important accomplishment for me to achieve (in my life, in the next six months or some other timeframe that is important to you)?
- If I accomplish this, what will happen for others? For myself? For the organization?
- How am I preventing myself and others from focusing on the highest and best use of our time and talents?
- How am I willing to be different in order to have a different outcome?
- What do I want to start or stop doing today?
Start with these questions and see where they lead you. Begin with identifying some simple steps that will help you get started. Ask others for their insights into where you have opportunities to delegate, simplify or build more structure and support around your priorities. Identify those habits that trigger you into limiting your ability to scale.
Make the time to answer these questions, and then begin taking those small steps. From personal experience, I can tell you that you will be rewarded as you pass through a number of stages on your ascent towards your desired future.