Working too hard is killing your business

You’ve owned your business for a while now. You provide a product or service that people need or want and you do a good job of it.  How do I know this? Because you’re still in business and business owners who don’t offer a great product or service don’t make it very long.

But your business feels like it’s stalling a bit. You’re still really busy – in fact you’re probably busier than you’ve ever been but growth…both top line revenue and profit has been really hard to come by. There’s a reason for that stall. It’s counter-intuitive and you’re not going to believe me initially…but it’s true.

You’re working too hard.

The American Dream is founded on hard work and you strongly (and correctly) believe that if you want to get ahead you have to work for it. However…once your business is established and has success, the path to the next level of growth requires a different approach. You still need hard work – but as the owner you have to stop DOING all of the day to day stuff. You have to let go – at least a bit.

The top 3 reasons to work less:

1. There are only 24 hours in a day.

You’re really good at whatever it is that you do. You may be better at that than anyone you know. But once you’re working a full schedule there’s no room for any more growth. It’s simple math – if you want more business then you must get other people to do that critical work. If that’s not possible – then you can’t grow.  The good news is that it’s possible to find other people to do that work – maybe not quite as well as you can do it, but close enough.

Your job as the business owner is (eventually) to teach others how to add that value that you’ve been adding…not to deliver it yourself, but to teach others.


2. See the forest not just the trees.

The world is changing fast these days and your industry is different than it was even just 5 years ago. Social media, marketing, sales, technology – all of these things are changing very quickly and they all have an impact on business.

If you’re working too hard in your business, then you haven’t had any time to spare to think about the big picture and what needs to be done to work ON your business. As the business owner, your primary job is looking at what’s going on in the world and adapting your business to all of those changes. That’s not just a survival technique…it’s also the best way to uncover great new growth opportunities.


3. You’re getting tired.

When you started your business, you weren’t thinking about how excited you would be working 60 to 70 hours a week with no end in sight. Or about not having the option to take a vacation or spend time with your family or friends.

You’re all about hard work – that’s why your business is successful in the first place. But no one can sustain that kind of pace for a long time without implications. Best case you get burned out, you start going through the motions and you get really resentful about your business. Worst case you end up with health issues and you reach a point where you physically can’t do the work that’s needed.

It’s okay to work smarter rather than harder. In fact, if you want to grow your business you’re going to have to do that. Remember, if the business owner isn’t excited about the business and where it’s headed, then no one else will be either.  And you can’t be excited and focused if you’re tired and distracted.

Where do you go from here?

If you’re like most of our clients, your initial thought is that you can’t afford to slow down. The reality is if you want to grow you’re going to have to. You have to build a leadership team (not all at once, but over time) that can truly own most of the day to day responsibilities of the business. You have to find a way to get yourself out of the value chain – because that’s the only way to find the time and figure out how to continue to improve the business.

It’s not easy…which is why there aren’t more really successful businesses, but it can be done if you make it your priority. Ferris Bueller once famously said; “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  He wasn’t explicitly talking to business owners, but he makes a great point. Your business exists to get you what you want out of life – is that currently happening with your business? If not, what can you do about it?


Shawn Kinkade - Kansas - CPBC – PBCA Business Coach