Entrepreneur Library

Do you need to know everything about your business?

Do you need to know everything about your business?
By Samantha Garner, GoForth Institute
September 10, 2010


If your business is growing, you likely have a few employees you hired to take charge of certain critical tasks. If your business is on the larger end of small, some of these employees may even be specialists in one certain field. How curious are you about what they do all day?


Should you know everything that goes on in your business?

Part of being a great small business leader is empowering your team to move confidently forward in their roles. They should be able to think critically, analyze situations and come to educated decisions. We want you to trust them! But what happens in situations where your employee’s area of expertise is nowhere near your own?

Firstly, breathe! Think back to the issue that made you hire this person. You probably saw that your business was increasing and needed assistance in a specific area like bookkeeping. Maybe you responded to customer demand and brought in a dedicated technical support person. You understood two very important things: 1) You can’t do everything yourself in a growing small business; and 2) Even if you could, certain things are beyond your skill level.

Your eyes may glaze over when your tech support person talks about his or her latest service visit, but the important thing is that you have faith in their skills and resist the urge to micromanage.


Still curious?

Here are some ways you can be sure to strike the balance between trust and control.

  1. Consult trusted business advisors if you’re in doubt about an employee’s performance or skill set. In an ideal world, this advisor’s expertise would align with the employee in question. Let someone you trust – who really knows their stuff – give you their two cents.
  2. Don’t give carte blanche to any employee. Even if you don’t understand some of the more technical aspects of your employees’ roles, you are still in charge. Have regular one-on-one meetings – over a quick coffee or in the boardroom with spreadsheets – to make sure you and your employee are on the same page.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask when you need clarification. Asking, “And what exactly is a Linux?” isn’t going to make your employees think less of you. It’ll show you care about what they’re doing and help you understand the way your business works.
  4. Educate yourself. If you’ve hired someone to handle fundraising, learn all you can about that world. Talk to people in your network, take a course – even ask your employee what they love about what they do. You don’t have to be an expert (it’s why you hired someone, after all), but even a little knowledge will go a long way to understanding a part of your business you may be unfamiliar with.

Samantha Garner is an award winning writer, editor, self-professed word nerd and leads GoForth Institute’s  corporate communications department. Contact Samantha by email: samantha@goforthinstitute.com

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