This is a guest post by Marcus Sheridan.
I’m going to sound like the most conceited jerk in the world for a few sentences here….but bear with me.
Over the past few years I’ve probably sold more swimming pools than any single person in the country. My company, which happens to be one of the country’s top fiberglass pool installers, has done quite well during this time period and I’ve been the driving force at the kitchen table, helping hundreds of families choose our services over many competitors in the process. To put it simply, I’m really, really good at the skill called selling…
And I’m also incredibly replaceable.
That’s right, replaceable. I’m not nearly as valuable as many folks think I am to my company. In fact, I know there are people out there, if put in the right position and given the right tools, that can do just as well if not better than I have over these past few years.
For those of you that don’t know my history, when I’m not passionately writing about all things business, marketing, and personal development on The Sales Lion—I also happen to own a pool company, River Pools and Spas, which was started 10 years ago by me and my two great business partners.
Like any company selling luxury items in a wild economy, these past 10 years have been one peak and valley after another, but for the past few I have known that my time was soon coming to an end. Although I enjoyed talking to families and assisting them in the process of creating memories in their backyard through the pool ownership experience, I knew being a ‘pool guy’ wasn’t my ultimate calling.
As I talked to a few people in the industry about my desires to move on, the comments were almost always the same: “Marcus, you’re really the face of your company, and you’re the guy that sells everything, there’s no way you could just leave.”
And although I’d like to think (as we all would) that my importance and worth to the company is as great as these some of these folks would have me believe, the reality is that they’re simply stuck in a paradigm that most businesses and business owners fall in—that employees, especially the owners, are irreplaceable.
Fact is, most business owners are too involved in the day-to-day operations of their companies anyway. As Michael Gerber famously said—They’re too busy working in their business to work on their business.
Such has been the case for me as well. I’ve been so busy selling that it has impeded my ability not only to work ‘on’ the business, but also reach out into the areas of my life that I’m most passionate about and feel called to do.
This is exactly why I’ve replaced myself. I now have commissioned sales persons that have taken my place, and the results thus far have been tremendous. Simply put, they’re better than I was. They’re more driven, more motivated, and take the time to care for each prospect as they should—otherwise, they don’t get paid.
In the past, with so much on my plate, I simply wasn’t able to be the best I could be, and therefore, although the sales numbers may have looked great on the outside, I knew there was room for improvement on the inside.
That’s the thing about being successful in business. We’ve got to be willing to step away. We can’t always have our arms wrapped around every facet of the company. Eventually, if we truly want the ‘freedom’ that entrepreneurship is supposed to bring, we’ve got to lean on others.
So that’s what I’m now doing. My business partners and I essentially ‘oversee’ the company but we’re no longer in backyards digging holes or sitting at kitchen tables trying to make a sale. From now on, I’ll spend about 10 hours a week working on my company’s inbound marketing and the rest of my time will be pursuing the goals of the next phase of my life.
The Fire Returns
And if I may be completely frank, I’ve never been so excited and invigorated as I am right now. My smile is unrelenting. I only wish I had learned to lean on others in the past and not allowed myself to overrate my overall importance to the success of the company.
So that’s the challenge folks. Are you replaceable? Chances are, at least in some areas, the answer is ‘yes’. And if it is, get with it. It’s time you started owning your business instead of it owning you. And as you do this you will once again start to create, imagine, and dream big—instead of being caught up in the minutia of day to day.
Can it be done? Sure it can. Now the only question is….. Will you?
Why is it so hard for business owners to replace themselves? Also, are you spending more time working ‘in’ your business or ‘on’ your business? Why?
I’m a guy that loves to converse, so please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and comments below.
About the author: Marcus Sheridan is the author of The Sales Lion, offering sage advice on business, marketing, blogging, and life success principles. You can also connect with him on Twitter at @TheSalesLion and on Google+.