Authors: Doug and Polly White
Publisher: Whitestone Partners. 242 pages
Book Review by Nano Khilnani
Delegation of work to the right person is the basic them of this book. Founders of businesses typically are good at doing many things required to start and grow a business.
This book is the result of findings – through research and interviews – that the husband-and-wife team Doug and Polly White gathered in studying micro, small and midsize businesses. One of the problems that hampered revenue and profit growth in the companies they studied was the owner who did a lot of the work and did not want to delegate some of the tasks and functions to others. The owner essentially did not want to ‘let go, to grow.’ That is Obstacle No.1 to growth, content Doug and Polly White.
In today’s highly competitive world it is imperative that costs be kept down, especially in the beginning stages of a new company, in order to compete and make a profit. One way to keep costs down is for the owner to get a lot of things done by herself or with the help of just a few people.
However, getting a lot of the work done by oneself or with employment of a small number of people is fine in the beginning. But as sales volume increases, the owner cannot handle all the tasks involved in fulfilling the orders, whether they are for products or services.
If, in the starting phase of a business, the owner is principally involved in bringing in new customers and revenue, and it reaches a point where there are not enough hours in a working day to do all the tasks and handle all the requirements of running a business well, she has to “let go to grow,” assert the authors Doug and Polly White.
Typically, the owner of a small business is very good at doing one thing and good at doing several other things. However in today’s world, there are numerous functions required for a business to be run well.
One of the most important of those is of course, acquisition of customers and growth of sales. If a company does not have customers and sales, it cannot exist for long. Some companies such as in the pharmaceutical or technology fields need to develop a product or set of products and this could take some time, before they are ready to be marketed and sold, but in most cases, products were developed or were already available before the company was established.
The other functions are (listing alphabetically but not in order of importance): accounting, which includes billing, bookkeeping and collections; advertising and marketing; development of products and services; hiring, on-boarding and training new people; prospecting and sales, and shipping of products or delivery of services.
And of course, there are many other functions that a business owner has, such as office maintenance (acquisition of office equipment, furniture and supplies, just to give one example.
Doug and Polly White point out that many business owners are good creating a product or enhancing their services but as their company’s sales grow, they have too much on their hands to do. It is at this point that they delegate to qualified people some of their work to others to free up their own time to do the most critical requirements for a company to grow.
In most cases, that focus should be on growing its revenue, in my opinion. Or, if there is an abundance of demand for their products or services, then the focus of the business owner should be on developing a steady and reliable stream of supply of their products and services.
The authors cite case histories of companies that failed to grow and point out the causes. The book is organized in four main parts, with the principal thesis – letting go in order to achieve business growth – developed in Part One, including answering the question “Why grow?’
Part Two expounds on how the owner can successfully do the primary work of the business, make tactical decisions and develop a strategy. In Part Three, where the authors explain how to transition from a micro business into a small business, readers learn how to get the right workers into the right jobs and manage them.
Part Four continues in helping the business owner grow his or her small business into a midsized one, by detailing how to delegate authority and develop accountability; getting the right managers placed in the right positions; establishing systems and documenting process; and developing reliable metrics to keep tab of their business. A summary and postscript wrap up their last thoughts and give good advice to readers.