Big Problems In Small Business – Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
One of the biggest risks I see in small businesses is putting all the eggs in one basket; that is, being totally reliant on one person. I’m talking to you, Mr/Mrs Business Owner who fails to delegate, or delegates so much that you’re totally beholden to a key single employee, a sole trader supplier or even yourself. Why doesn’t this make you feel as jittery as I do for your business?
I’m talking about risks here – any system solely reliant upon one key element is at risk.
When the system breaks down (which it inevitability will), and the system has all its eggs placed firmly in one basket and has no contingencies to support it, what are the potential impacts (other than egg on one’s face)?
Now you may be thinking, “It’s all good Shannyn, let’s not be dramatic here, the whole business won’t collapse, I’ve got things sorted…” but if the last time that you took time away from the business was when you didn’t have to pack your toiletries into the tiniest zip-lock bag ever, or you can’t remember your last volunteer day at your kid’s school, maybe you’re an unwitting victim of your own poor foresight into this area?
Here’s another thought bubble.
Are you the business owner that holds all the knowledge, and then gets frustrated when your team don’t seem to be committed, lose interest or leaves? Getting trapped in a whirlpool of constant activity that is totally reliant upon your input is not the way to run or scale a solid business. Good businesses use all their (people) resources effectively, cohesively and cooperatively. Ultimately, a well-run business will have well trained, qualified staff that can slot into a variety of roles allowing the business owner to manage the business as they should.
What does “managing the business as they should” look like? In my opinion it’s about focusing on the strategic priorities, having good line of sight and understanding of the financials, keeping the team motivated towards the goals and providing a great workplace.
Many get caught in the cycle because they fail to recognise the need to let go a little to help themselves. If you don’t recognise it in yourself, you probably see it in others. You know the scenario-: failure to delegate, failure to empower others, failing to move information out of single heads and into easily accessible manuals with processes and systems to support it?
To perform at its optimum level the business needs a leader who has the time to lead and manage the business. It’s the cliché of working on the business not in the business. The challenge is often to realise that you’re possibly stuck in a chicken and egg situation. Does this sound familiar? You’re too busy in the weeds of working in the business to mitigate the risks of the reliance on unique individuals, or worse, mitigating the risk of the reliance on you being the bottleneck in the business.
So how do you change?
- Take time away from the business to get out of the “chicken and egg” situation. You must have time to consider where change needs to be made. Block out a decent chunk of time and get really comfortable with being uncomfortable and facing the reality of where the business is at and where the risks could be.
- Look at your baskets and consider whether your eggs are evenly distributed or whether there are risks of being too reliant on one single basket.
- Consider the people, processes and systems to adjust to mitigate the risks around the eggs being in one basket. What investments do you need to make in your business to ensure you’re not perpetuating the all eggs in one basket scenario.
- Finally, and perhaps this should be at the beginning of the list; WHY. Think about how this is affecting the environment around you. Not only in terms of the culture of your business, but in the mindset of yourself and others; how could the eggs in one basket be stifling growth and innovation in your team? What about in the business overall? what about in you?
It isn’t easy, because we get used to the way we do things. Routine is comfortable and safe. It’s reassuring to stick with familiar practices and procedures in the face of the world’s fast moving and fast paced environment. As humans we don’t like change. But this is where being forced by someone to face some harsh realities can help a business grow. I hope this has forced you to look at your chickens, eggs and baskets and helped to consider some of your own harsh realities.
What to do next:
If you want to talk to me about ways to get out of your comfort zone, get in touch.