KIUNGA: Pull your start-up from jaws of owner-knows-all disease

In one of the famous Bible stories on leadership, we read how Moses was saved from possible burnout by his father-in-law Jethro.

When Jethro visited Moses, he realised his son-in-law neither had time for himself nor his family. He was ever busy dealing with issues affecting his people, including arbitrating petty cases.

The old wise man aised Moses to select able and trustworthy people to help him rule rather than having to do everything. He told him to choose “Rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”

After doing this, Moses was relieved and his start-up ministry became more effective. He was able to focus on the most important things and not be overwhelmed and stressed by many smaller tasks that rendered him infective.

Effective delegation is no doubt one of the greatest pillars of enterprise growth. There is no single enterprise that can be built and run by one person.

Yet most small businesses are what can be accurately called one-man show. This is one of the reasons most promising small businesses remain small or stagnate until one day the owner retires and closes shop.

People who fall in this category belong to the old school thinking that entrepreneurs should work for long hours for business to succeed. Yes, hard work is part of business but how balanced is that workload?

In other words, what exactly do you do as the owner of the business?

Do you find yourself busy handling all customer complaints, filling Kenya Revenue Authority returns, picking letters from the post office, answering calls and e-mails, expediting deliveries, chasing debtors and so on? If yes, then you need to learn the art of delegation and apply it to realise your potential.

John Maxell said that, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” This effectively means the single greatest competitive aantage you can have is to learn and practise leadership.

Leadership has been defined as the process of social influence which maximises efforts of others towards achievement of a goal. In other words, if your success is not attributed to the effort of others, if you are the kind of person who say, “If I am not here nothing moves,” then you are not a leader.

The key role of a business leader is to get the right people on the ‘bus’ and ensure they are seated right. As a leader, you should focus more on getting the right people and training them to aance your business agenda.

In business tasks can be divided into two: low income-generating tasks and high-income-generating tasks.

Incidentally, low-income generating tasks are many and time consuming and at the same time indispensable. These include filing, processing orders, delivering goods and so on.

On the other hand, high-income generating tasks are few and apparently dispensable. They are easily sacrificed at the altar low-income generating tasks when time and resources are limited.

They include formulating strategies to beat competitors, innovation and new product development, customer retention strategies, structuring finances, building the brand, managing budgets and forecasts and, as we have seen, searching for the right people and ensuring they are in the right place.

These tasks are best done by the business leader. Therefore, one more reason you should delegate is so as to have more time to focus on high income generating tasks.

As a rule of the thumb, you should not do a task in your business unless you cannot get someone else to do it at a lower cost or you cannot delegate.

Mr Kiunga is a business trainer and the author of The Entrepreneurial Journey: From Employment to Business