How many hats do you wear?
By Raeleen | 28 August 2015
Running a business means wearing a whole lot of different hats, right? How do you deal with that pressure?
- No problem, I can do it all
- I can wear all the hats for a while but it’s not sustainable in the long term
- I’m not sure all of these hats really suit me, I might give them to someone else
- I’ve never really been a hat person. I think my head is the wrong shape.
If you’re working in a small business, especially, it’s easy to choose option A and be the one to take on a huge variety of roles because you want to help the business, and there just isn’t anybody else to take those roles on. I did this in the first years of my business because I felt like I had no other choice. I had limited staff and limited funds. But as my business grew, I realised I would have to really focus and look at what hats I was wearing effectively. That transition period – where I brought others on board to take on that role – was challenging, but I knew it was what I had to do so I could concentrate on growing the business the way I wanted to. I can’t do everything, and I need to prioritise what is important for me to do, and what I can pass on to others.
When you are trying to be all things to everyone, you’re like one of those plate spinning acts. You might be able to keep it up for a while, and everyone will be impressed, but eventually, it will all get too much and something will come crashing down. You will either be pushing out timeframes all over the place, or you’ll be working night and day to get everything done – and in that case burnout is inevitable.
So option B is understandable, and indeed, what I did in my business. But option C is probably the smarter choice. You are not the best person for every job. Are there tasks you can employ freelance or contract staff to do? These people are experts in their fields. No matter how clever you are, they will do it better, faster and more thoroughly than you ever could, and you can concentrate on doing what you do best. Because you need to think, not just about what is best for yourself, but what is best for the business in the long term. Making those decisions and making a clear choice can be an important moment in your leadership.
Oh, and if you choose option D, you either really thought we were talking about actual hats, or you might want to rethink your approach to business.
“Take off your hat,” the King said to the Hatter.
“It isn’t mine,” said the Hatter.
“Stolen!” the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.
“I keep them to sell,” the Hatter added as an explanation; “I’ve none of my own. I’m a hatter.”
― Lewis Carroll,