Have you experienced the “Business Owner Sandwich” growing pain? It’s similar to the Sandwich Generation in our family stories where our hero is sandwiched in between caring for children or teens and caring for aging parents. I have seen something similar with business owners who have hired team members and/ or managers in the company, yet the staffers are not yet experienced or confident enough to run their own departments.
The business owner hired more help to free up her time to add larger clients and create new product lines or services. However, the business owner is sandwiched between doing the employees’ work as well as the owner’s expanded workload. This leads to owner burnout, a stagnating business, and possibly losing good employees who are likely feeling frustrated too.
Where do you start? Here are some ideas that may help.
Off-load the easiest tasks first – What areas are easiest to systematize and train an employee or an outsource-partner? I help my clients sort through all of the tasks and prioritize a starting place. Just getting started makes a big difference versus being paralyzed by overwhelm and wanting to do things perfectly the first time. Some business owners feel like its easiest to outsource or delegate the administrative and/or accounting duties and with accounting software like QuickBooks that can be a fairly pain-free place to start.
Most important function gets priority – Other business owners recognize that they need to prioritize a department where the company feels the biggest gap. Customer Service is typically the most important function to remedy if that’s not working well. Without happy customers, the rest of the departments may soon be irrelevant! What do your customer surveys or online reviews tell you? What about your customer retention rate? Begin with a look at reality and at the numbers to assess where there may be a breakdown. Does your customer service team need training? Coaching? Measurable goals? It’s important to take care of that as quickly as possible but also to remember it takes an on-going commitment to continuous improvement and staff development to keep the service levels where you want them to be. There is no such thing as a quick-fix.
Strategic Planning – Instant gratification seems to be a universal way of thinking, yet that works against a business owner who’s committed to maintaining a sustainable business over the long haul. When the Business Owner Sandwich growing pain takes hold, its tempting to want to fix everything at once. I encourage you to resist that overwhelm-inducing thought-process and think and plan strategically instead. Create a plan to assess all of the areas that require improvement and prioritize the most urgent. From there it is important to involve the managers so there is buy-in and collaboration to take things to the next level. Remember, your employees have a stake in the success of the company too and they usually bring very important insights to the table.
Change your perspective – It takes a mindset-change for business owners to get out of the Business Owner Sandwich growing pain. For the business owner to get out of being the only juggler of all the balls in the air, the owner has to ask for help in creating a different way of doing things. Collaborating with their team as well as working with outside trainers or coaches can make a big difference for everyone. Remember what Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Let me know what has worked for you and your company – or reach out if I can be of assistance to you and your team. I love helping businesses conquer their growing pains and get to their next level of success!
Kim Ellet is a certified professional coach and owner of The Growth Coach of Metro Atlanta. She finds joy in helping successful leaders committed to continuous improvement, be more of who they are, dream bigger dreams, and accomplish more than they realized was possible. www.TheGrowthCoach/Atlanta.com