The One Question Successful Business Owners Always Ask Themselves

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President of The Marks Group
4 min read
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I run a 10-person company and it’s profitable. Don’t get the wrong impression. I'm not making millions, but the company does well enough to provide for my people and my family. It wasn’t always this way, though.

For the first five or six years of my business, I barely made a living. It wasn’t for lack of work. I was really busy. But my business wasn’t growing. It wasn’t successful. I looked at some of my clients who were successful and I asked myself why. I asked them questions. The answer, most of them told me, was that I was asking the wrong questions.

The successful business owners whom I worked with then and collaborate with today are of course passionate, hardworking, bright, creative and entrepreneurial. But they all have something else in common. Every day, many times a day, they ask a simple question. And they always pose that same question to themselves. Can you guess what it is? 

You're thinking perhaps it has something to do with marketing, competition, cash flow or strategy. Yes, the one question successful business owners ask is about all that. And yet it’s also about none of that. The one simple question successful business owners are always asking is this: Who will do it for me? 

Related: The 3-Step Cure for Micromanagement

These words are a life-altering discovery. This is what separates the successful business owners I know from the ones that never win. They ask, Who will do it for me? These are not lazy people. They are not avoiding responsibilities. They are managers and leaders. And they are successful.

Every day when you run a business there are things to do, tasks to complete, projects to work on, questions that need to be answered and problems that need to be solved. Many business owners shoulder these burdens. They take it upon themselves to solve every issue. They equate being busy with being successful.

They justify their own importance with the perceived requirement that they must do it all. They don’t trust others to do the work. They are of the belief that no one else can do what they do. And this belief dooms them.

Ever wonder why CEOs and senior managers of large corporations make so much money? It’s because they are able to motivate, manage and lead tens of thousands of others to do the stuff they need done to accomplish their goals.

So here’s what you should do: Ask that same question.

Related: When to Spend Your Time Versus When to Spend Your Money

The next time a customer makes a request, a problem needs to be fixed, an issue needs to be resolved, don’t sigh and calculate how much time and sacrifice is going to be required of you. Don’t complain about all the hours this will take away from your family. Don’t become frustrated because this new problem will divert your energy away from something else.

Instead, just ask yourself, Who is going to do it for me? If there's someone at the company who's capable or at least an individual who could be asked to give it a shot, then rely on that person.

If not, outsource the task. Or consider hiring that person. 

Take a step back. Delegate. Trust. This is not easy. You’re not used to giving up control. You are apprehensive. But if you want to really succeed as a business owner and manager, understand this: Your true value is not to complete tasks but to lead and manage.

Let other people do stuff. Let your people make their mistakes. Allow them to grow. If they're given the opportunity to step up to the plate, they will hit the ball. And you will benefit and grow. 

Related: 8 Tasks You Should Delegate Today

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