Entrepreneurs know their business, or at least they should. But the extent to which they know their own business differs in reality. There are entrepeneurs who have arranged everything in their business themselves, but there are also entrepreneurs who outsource a lot to colleagues. In this blog I will elaborate on the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches and I will give you tips on how to better understand your business.
Self-service vs. outsourcing
Having and wanting to have all the reins in one's own hands can be both a pitfall and a strength: it may make it more difficult to let go of things, which can cause your business to grind to a halt, but it does enable you to change gear more quickly because you have a good grasp of all the elements. Those who outsource a lot, on the other hand, have more freedom because responsibilities also lie with colleagues. A disadvantage may be that this method of working takes more time.
One approach is not necessarily better than the other, but the entrepreneur who chooses to divide tasks must ensure that he knows how his own business works in the meantime. Otherwise, you will not be able to contribute much to, for example, a substantive discussion on new working methods. Also, you cannot make choices and decisions as quickly if you are not aware of the current state of affairs. In short: not knowing what is going on can be extremely limiting.
A well-oiled machine
As a CEO, you don't have to do it all yourself. What you do need to understand is how business units are linked and what the impact of one is on the other. To give you an example from Instabox (formerly Red Je Pakketje): a day of delivery problems not only affects the customer, but also the customer service team. That team has a lot more work to do the following day. If you know this, you can take it into account as a manager. Moreover, if you know what is going on, you can effectively tackle the underlying problems, instead of fighting the symptoms. An entrepreneur who does not know what is what and who is doing what will have difficulty linking team members in order to solve problems.
I was lucky enough to be at the start of Red Je Pakketje (now Instabox), so I built everything myself. That way it is more natural to understand all the parts. But sometimes I lost grip a bit, so I know how frustrating it is to hardly be able to talk or think about a part. To throw in a one-liner: a company is like a machine; if one part doesn't work properly, the whole machine grinds to a halt.
How do you handle it?
You may now be wondering whether you need to start scheduling moments to be informed of all developments in the company. That is not necessary. My advice is to keep asking questions in your company. If you find that you don't understand a thing, keep asking. It is important to realise that you do not know everything and that is okay. Just be honest with yourself and others and admit that you don't know or don't have the answer and then try to find out everything about it. And if you can, regularly - for example once a year or quarterly - shadow a department. In this way, you can suddenly find out that you were wrongly frustrated with department A, because the unrealistic adjustments they keep making are because department B sells the product incorrectly.
When you first start working somewhere, you will almost always notice certain things. New employees in our company almost always come with remarks and questions like "why do you do it like this? Well, you can answer that it's just been that way for years, the new employee can assume that they have thought about it, and that's it. But these remarks are very valuable, because if something ridiculous happens and it is maintained because it has 'always been this way', you are obviously in for a real treat. Of course it is difficult to admit that you are not the smartest person in the world, but there are better ideas than the ones you had three years ago. Dare to keep revising everything! Together, you really will achieve the best results. A good idea, a simple solution, can increase the productivity of the whole team.