Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself, by Mike Michalowicz
Do you ever get the sense that you are just taking on too many roles and responsibilities in your business? Have you inadvertently made yourself a bottleneck in the path of progress for your business? Would you like to change how your business runs so that you can free yourself to focus on big ideas, pursue other interests, or even just be able to take some additional time off?
I think the answers to those questions are at least twofold. First, what is best for the business? And, second, what is best for you? In both cases, the answers are aligned. Delegation to a great team that is capable of making great decisions while you have time to yourself or for big thinking will benefit both you and your business.
So let’s talk about the seven steps laid out in Clockwork, an amazing book on this topic, for getting you “out” of your business so that it has the capacity to run like “Clockwork.”
- Figure out where you are now.
Step 1 is to set a baseline. In the book, the author advises that you assess how much of your work time in a given week you spend, in terms of percentages, between (a) doing, (b) deciding for others, (c) delegating and (d) designing for efficiency and cost. The exact definitions of those four items should be rather intuitive, so we will not dive too deep into them here. Odds are, however, that you are spending too much time on the “doing” phase of your business. This is where many entrepreneurs and business owners get trapped. It can feel like you built a business just to give yourself a job. You have to get yourself out of this “doing” mode. Your time is just too valuable. Additionally, with you in this “doing” role, more likely than not, your business is limited as to scalability. In Clockwork, the author, Mike Michalowicz, describes some ideal percentages for these four main areas of time management.
Spend a week recording how you spend your time on your business. Assign percentages to those to know where you are now. The takeaway is to then shift the percentages from “doing”, and even “deciding,” to more “delegating” and “designing.”
- Identify the main driver of your business
What one area of your business, if you absolutely nailed it, would be the first domino in a line of success for the whole operation? This can be a challenging question to answer. It can present the chicken and egg scenario. Maybe you believe it is customer service. But does that mean that your main driver must necessarily first be great training and hiring for your staff?
In my experience, a strong purpose for your business is the main driver. Everyone related to your organization must be a believer in the greater purpose of why your business began in the first place.
As an attorney, I used to represent Yeti Coolers, an incredible company with amazing products that I am sure are familiar to many of you. Their purpose, stated simply, which took them from a company of just two founding brothers to an IPO and huge market valuation at the time I am writing this, was to create coolers and other products that kept their beers cold while they were fishing. That is from the words of the founders. Simple. Straightforward. Something customers, employees, investors and markets all can easily understand and rally behind. My recommendation, use a company like Yeti as an example and get a purpose behind your business. Then require consistent, directed action towards that purpose. That will be your driver.
- Protect and serve that main driver
I agree with Clockwork. Actions, people, anything that is inconsistent with the driver needs to be taken out of the organization. Your “why” is incredible quality and you have people working with you who are willing to cut corners? You only have yourself to blame if you do not get those people out of your business. Further, you will never be able to separate yourself from your business while still delivering on your vision of quality if these kinds of people are involved because they will never be motivated enough to work independently towards that mission. In other words, they will screw it up. You will have to reinsert yourself in the business to clean up those messes. That is exactly what we are trying to avoid and what Clockwork teaches us how to avoid.
- Capture and records systems
If you want to get things done right, you have to do them yourself, is the saying. That is not necessarily true. But you do have to show and teach others how you expect things to be done by learning how to delegate work properly. The book contains great ideas for “non-employee manual” methods to record the key systems and processes in your business so that people can easily learn and duplicate them in the future. To remove yourself from the “doing” of your business, you have to spend the time and energy necessary to train people to your standard. This book has awesome recommendations for how you can make this employee training and delegation process easier on yourself.
- Install the right team and delegate
Your business is only going to be as good as the quality of people that you bring into the organization. Are they skilled at what they do? What is their purpose? Are they aligned with your “why” and thus likely to push forward your vision as the main driver of the business? Invest in the right people. I´ve made the mistake myself of looking for the right price rather than the right person. I regretted it many times over and my businesses suffered as a result. Don´t be as dumb as I was!
- Commitment and value
Commit to the driver. Provide undeniable value to clients. If you make this commitment and train your team well, it will be hard to stop your business from reaching incredible heights.
- Step back from the business
Time to take a step back. This does not have to be abrupt. But why not test it? If you have done everything else in this list you should now be able, to the extent you wish, take a 30,000-ft. view and watch your business function without you. This is also the time where, if it’s what you want, selling your business becomes most probable. When your business is at a point where it has become “plug-and-play”, you have the freedom to do whatever suits you best.
I am excited for you, I am excited for your business and for all the optionality implementing these steps from Clockwork will bring you as you go down the road of creating something special. Grab this book to really dig into everything mentioned above!