Welcome back to the AgencySavvy blog! It’s been a while between posts as we’ve been busy creating some fantastic courses in our member’s area, and giving things a refresh.
A member of my team recently asked me a question I’d never stopped to think about before – what is the best piece of business advice I have ever received?
Well, after 16 years of being an agency owner, and building four businesses along the way, it’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of advice over the years. Some of the advice I wish I’d taken on onboard earlier, and some I wish I’d never taken onboard at all!
But, what would I say would be the best business advice I have ever received?
I’ve thought long and hard about this, and it comes down to this line.
“Your job as a business leader is to predict and delegate.”
Sounds simple, right? But what does that really mean?
As a leader, your job is to be looking UP and OUT of the business – you need to be thinking about the future. And that means aligning both your vision for the future, together with what you think is going to happen in your industry in the near term. AND also what’s going to happen in the wider world. (And I think we all know that last one is particularly tricky, given where we are currently in 2020! Here were my predictions from the end of 2019, for how digital marketing will change in 2020…)
So how do you predict and delegate? Especially during these unpredictable times?
I believe there’s two key skills that you need:
You need to be able to read the numbers, see what the numbers are telling you and be able to analyze that. Of course, gut feeling and experience is important. But for me, the answer is often guided by – if not decided by – the numbers. So being able to read the numbers, being able to analyze data is a key skill.
I was once given a bit of advice by Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
He said, if you want to learn anything new – it doesn’t matter if that’s the world of business, real estate, investing or Italian – the first thing you need to do is learn the vocabulary. Because learning the meanings of perhaps 20 – 40 words will help everything else make so much more sense.
Once you understand key vocabulary you can have a conversation with somebody about the topic at hand. You can talk to your accountant about the numbers. You can talk to your dev team about the code once you understand it. The important point is you don’t need to understand at their level, but by understanding the vocabulary you’re able to have a decent conversation with people about the thing that they do, which helps you do two things:
Predict what’s going on in that space. And most importantly, it helps you delegate effectively, which gets you leverage in your business.
And leverage is the whole point of having a team. Whether they’re in-house or outsourced, business is a team sport. Your job is helping your team understand what’s going on and what they need to be responsible for in the business. So that you’re all working in your unique zone of genius. You’re all adding huge value. And you’re all rowing in the same direction.
Want to get better at predicting?
It’s a deep read, but The Signals are Talking by Amy Webb is a fantastic guide to figuring out what might be happening next. And Prediction Machines by Agrawal et al leans into the Machine Learning side of prediction, but still offers some great insights.
Your ability to delegate is essentially your ability to give a crystal clear picture of the outcome that you want. Tools like Dan Sullivan’s Impact Filter will help, but might be overkill for smaller projects.
Just be sure to delegate responsibility – not just tasks. Be clear on the various success criteria you have for the project (even those assumptions you don’t think you need to list), and always remind someone why this project is important: where does it fit, what’s the importance of doing it now.
Finally, Shannon Waller’s podcast ‘Your Team Success’ has some great episodes on delegation