“If I don’t do it, it won’t get done right.”

This belief is a common constraining factor in many businesses’ growth.  There are variations of it, but the common thread is that you, the business operator, have to be central to the work being completed.

Only you can sell.  Only you can manage.  Only you can complete some complex task.

I organized a local business mastermind several years ago that included a smart fellow who ran an agency.  When we discussed his business model, he said that he had a team that provided services and that he would also occasionally do consulting work for their clients.  

As we dove into his business, it became clear that his consulting work was high profit and was supporting a not-very-profitable team.  His clients really appreciated and wanted his perspective, advice, and guidance.  Meanwhile, the team was a challenge to manage and hard to make money with.

He eventually decided fire everyone and just run solo as a consultant.

I haven’t spoken to this person in years and was curious what he was up to, so I looked him up on LinkedIn.  He’s now an employee for a large corporation and working as a manager in digital marketing.

I suspect the transformation went something like this:

  • Agency with a team.
  • Consultant with clients.
  • Consultant with less clients and one ongoing contract.
  • Employee.

I pass no judgement on this.  I don’t know his circumstances and he could be super happy as an employee, making a great salary, with plenty of freedom and time off.

But it does demonstrate that if you are central to value creation, you might be better off as a high salary employee.

If you cannot or are unwilling to extract yourself from the value creation process, you’re creating a situation where you’re self-employed.  

For small businesses, that self-employment often comes with additional roles, responsibilities, and downsides and doesn’t stack up well compared to other forms of employment.

So the next time you tell yourself that it has to be you doing a certain task, ask yourself if it’s worth it to be an employee in your own business?

Featured image is a keystone. The keystone is the last stone put into place in an arch and locks the other stones into place, ensuring the arch can bear weight. Used under public domain.