When I first started 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I thought I was the best at everything. Sales, PR, even hauling junk — my mindset was if I wanted something done right, I had to do it myself. What I didn’t see was that my ego was getting in the way of growth and innovation.
By their very nature, entrepreneurs are control freaks; delegating doesn’t come easy. But if you want to grow your business or become a better manager, you need to learn to give up control. Just because it’s your business doesn’t make you the expert, and being close-minded will hold you back from being a great leader. Here are 3 tips for letting go.
1. Surround Yourself With People Who Are Smarter Than You
Here’s a brutal truth: you are not the smartest person at your company. Or at least, you shouldn’t be. I learned this the hard way when we hired our first PR manager. From day one, I’d been doing all the pitching and media relations myself. It was working well enough, but when Tyler came on board, it was suddenly obvious to everyone: he was so much better at it than I ever was. I’d get burnt out with the repetitive phone calls, but he had relentless energy to tell our story over and over — even in the face of rejection.
My perspective shifted in a major way. I realized it’s not about being the smartest person in the room; it’s about building a team with the smartest people you can find. For everything you do, there will always be someone out there who can do it better. Imagine the success your business could have if you could get those people in your corner and develop them into experts in their field.
2. Do the Things You Do Best; Get Rid of the Rest
They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. But far too many of us get bogged down in work that doesn’t invigorate us. When I finally got my ego in check, I audited the business to determine how I was contributing — and I realized I could contribute in a more productive way. I wrote out a list of every task that needed to be done in the business. But I broke it out into two sections: one with things I’m good at and love to do, and the other with things I don’t enjoy and really am not good at (there were far more of the latter). This exercise gave me a clear picture of where to focus my efforts — and highlighted what I desperately needed to delegate to people more qualified than me.
For example, when I’m interviewing, I tend to trust my gut. I don’t ask a ton of questions about experience or ability; I know within the first five minutes if I like someone enough to extend an offer. But I recognize that’s not the best way to find qualified candidates. So I’ve delegated that job to Jerry, our VP of People. He’s the guy with the expertise to use the appropriate systems to find people who will be both a skill and culture fit.
By delegating certain jobs to people who love them, we all get to focus on the work that amps us up. And that’s a win-win for everyone.
3. Build a Team You Can Trust
When you build a business from scratch, you instinctively believe that no one else cares about it as much as you do. But if you hire the right people, you should be able to trust that they have the business’ best interests at heart. Every day, our leadership team meets for a morning call … that is, everyone except me. Our COO Erik has full control because I would only get in the way. Everyone’s aware that details and execution are not my area of expertise. So I stand back and trust my team to do what they do best.
We’re careful to hire people who share our company values and are proud to be a part of our bigger picture. We put in the focus and effort to ensure everyone is equipped to reach their full potential.
You don’t need to be the best person for every job. And you don’t need to be omnipotent for your business to succeed. The reality is there’s much more power in numbers — and if you build a team of talented people you can trust and believe in, you can unlock your unlimited potential.