If this image reminds you of someone, I hope it isn’t yourself. I have to call this syndrome “leave me the hell alone, I am too busy chasing my tail in a circle to stop chasing my tail in a circle.”
This issue is kind of like “working in your business, not on it.“ Doing “the work“ is something that needs to be done and sometimes we do need to lead by example. ‘The work’ is the day-to-day activities of your business, but many pest control business owners wonder, what will happen if they don’t do the work themselves? Importantly, business owners are also fond of saying, I can’t afford to delegate the work. The simple answer to this problem is your business will not grow meaningfully with you doing the work yourself. If you are doing the day-to-day work, you are the bottleneck. Do you think Donald Trump is dealing the cards at the blackjack table? Or mowing the grass on his golf courses? Hell no! So, you have to find a way to get off the truck and start working on your business instead of in it so your business can grow.
After Andrew had worked for a national pest-control company for 17 years, he launched his own pest control company and worked long hours to keep his clients happy. Andrew would wake up at 4 AM everyday to ensure that he was at the office personally making sure that each technician and inspector was good to go and ready for the day. Andrew serviced accounts and sold accounts on a regular basis. Andrew did all the ordering of the chemical and equipment. Basically he had his hands in everything.
Andrew also had a business coach and every time his coach talked about strategic initiatives or long-term goals, Andrew would say, I simply don’t have time for that. 3 years after launching his business, he was making more money on his own then he had from his previous job. However, the hours were awful, and he really had no time to spend with his wife and three children. Then the other shoe dropped. A brand-new national competitor came into his area offering a free initial pest control service. They were going door-to-door stealing many of Andrew‘s clients but also making it virtually impossible to attract new business. The company had deep pockets and huge advertising budgets. During each coaching session, Andrew would complain about the competitor, but he made no structural changes to his business model. He simply did not have time.
After a very long, tough year, Andrew slowed down enough to look at his business strategically. With the help of his coach, he re-tooled his business model and created some new systems/procedures. Now he is attracting new business and is far less stressed every day… And what’s even better is he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants to do It.
Keep track of how you spend your time for a week or two, and then categorize where you spent your time. If most activities only “ keep things going,“ you’re selling yourself short. As a business owner, you are responsible for the “big stuff.“ If you eat up your calendar on the “little stuff,“ you won’t have the energy or hours to move your business forward.
Be willing to “buy back your own time.“ Many pest control business owners complain by saying, “I can’t afford to delegate what I do to someone else”, and this is typically a fair assessment. However, the business owner is trapped. If he cannot offload the work, he cannot move on to higher impact activities and the business will move forward slowly, if at all. You must have the courage to get out of your situation. You must find a way to buy back some of your time.
Let’s make a little bet. Keep an honest and accurate record of what you do each day for an entire month. Add up the hours you spent on the strategic activities. If you could look back at your business activities five years from now and say, I am so glad I spent my time doing that, then the activity in question is strategic. If you can’t say that, then it’s just get through the day kind of work. Now, here’s the bet: I’ll bet you are spending less than 20 hours a month on strategic items, and in fact I’ll bet that some of you are spending less than 10 hours per month on strategic items. That is the bad news. The good news is you definitely have a lot of upside!