6 ways business owners can clone themselves (without actually doing it)

Every business owner who sets out to build a team really wants, not a team, but a CLONE.

Cloning would effectively allow them to be in two (or three) places at once. Yeah. A clone and a few more hours in the day would make a lot of business owners very happy.


Are you familiar with the song…”You can’t always get what you wa—annt….”? Well, it comes to mind when I hear business owners talking like this. Since cloning is not currently viable (for humans), I have 6 steps to take as you set out to build a team (or make a clone) that might help you, as the song says, “…get what you NEED.”

1. Extend your brain.

brainThe easiest, quickest, next-best thing to cloning is to get good admin support. A solid, experienced Executive Admin can, over time, become like an extension of your brain. There is a ton of stuff you are doing that a solid admin can do. They can help you with you’re schedule. They can help you clean up your inbox. They can put your newsletter together, get blog posts prepped in WordPress, and remind you of things you forgot.

A good admin will learn the ups and downs of your business and anticipate things that should go on your calendar. But there’s a catch: you have to train them!

How do you know how to hand off stuff to an admin now, if they aren’t yet working with clone-like proficiency? If they are not yet able to “read your mind”?

2. Let go of that schedule

let go of schedulingHere’s how it went for me: scheduling was the first thing I handed off. In my brain, I said, “I am no longer in charge of my schedule.” I go where she tells me. She’s in charge of my schedule. If, for some reason she books me back-to-back on meetings that are 30 minutes apart, I yell at her. It’s her problem. She screwed up my schedule. Right? That’s not my problem. So, mentally, I surrender it.

To make that work, I had to be really clear about what my parameters were. She needed to understand how much time I needed to block off to get work done. I had to explain what kinds of appointments couldn’t work scheduled back to back, whether I was simply talking about fighting traffic, or anticipating challenges with a client situation.

All you need to know is that I bought back a whole day a week by hiring some part-time admin help.

Clients often object to this. They insist they can’t afford admin help. If it looks too expensive, then you’re not charging enough; because you should be able to make more in one day than an admin costs in two. (If you need help raising your prices, here is a great resource.)

3. Make a “don’t do list”

categories-128Instead of cloning yourself, you can make a don’t do list. These are things that you are tempted to do—maybe even things you enjoy doing.Maybe, you’re good at doing them, but there are other people that can do them better, or quicker, or cheaper, and you just have to mentally say, “This is not my job anymore.”

For me, when I first started working with an admin, and with a team, I did a good job assigning tasks. But if I had five spare minutes… “I think I’ll just schedule this thing really quick”, or “I’ll just work on that email”. I was seeking out small tasks to do (tasks I had assigned) because it was easy for me to do them! There are lots of things that I’m good at and that I know I can get done; and that actually makes them attractive to me. I like to feel like I’ve crossed things off my list – who doesn’t? If I’m going to be effective working WITH my team, I have to close that door. I have to not do those things.

So. I don’t fix my own computer. I don’t research phone systems. There are other people out there that are phone experts. They’re going to do that stuff for me. I don’t plan parties. There are party planners who can plan parties better than I can. Once I wrote those things down on my “Do Not Do” list, I was forced to find the experts who could do that stuff. (If this is resonating, you should check out our Business Owner Job Description tool to help you figure out what you SHOULD do, and the things you shouldn’t.)

Start making this list before you hand stuff off to the admin. If the admin is in charge of my calendar, then I “don’t” set appointments. But it goes beyond that. Find a good IT person, find a good bookkeeper, and get out of the business of doing things that aren’t your job.

So, print your do not do list; and then don’t do things!

4. I know it’s hard, but DO LESS.

do lessAnother way to relieve stress and put more hours back in your week is to do less. Yes, I said, “do less.” You can choose a social network and say, “I’m not going to be on that social network.” I quit Facebook about 2 years ago and I never looked back.

I’m actually thinking about cutting way back on Twitter too. I love Twitter. Twitter is like my second home; but it’s not driving traffic like it used to. It’s not giving me business results… I’m not going away. I’m just saying I might cut back and see how that feels.

Instead of taking on 15 marketing tactics, I could pick two, and do a really good job at those two. If you focus on only a few things, you might do better just with those few things, than you ever did by spreading yourself really thin.

5. Figure out and set goals

business ownerInstead of getting a clone to run around and do a million things, get clear about your goals. Your goals are the things that you want to do—not just this year—but this week, or today. With the support of an admin and a strong team, you are free to focus on your actual GOALS. When that happens, you will find a clone is not necessary, because you are actually making progress toward them; having identified them and cleared a path for your energy, you get to actually DO the most important stuff.

To make this work, you need to set your goals in the morning. Not very many; 2 or 3 max. I ask myself, “What would make today great?” The answer to that one question helps me to set my goals for the day.

6. Do only what you can ONLY do

business ownerThis one is related to number five. Once we have space and energy to move toward goals, we can focus further by answering the question, “What are the things that ONLY I CAN DO?” Too often business owners are so bogged down by the myriad (and significant and important) tasks of running their business, that they feel like they CAN’T do the things that, in fact, only they can do!

But when we’ve done the work in numbers 1-5, and find we don’t NEED a clone, we are finally free to do the things that only we can do. Having that freedom is only meaningful if we take advantage of it.

For example: Hiring. There’s no one else that can hire but me.

I need to make the ultimate choice of whom to bring onto my team. But does that mean you have to take on the whole recruiting process? Think about it: there are lots of places where other people can step in. In fact, other people can write the job posting, post it, AND review resumes and do phone screens. Other people can assist with interviews.

You just have to step in when there are viable candidates and make the final decision. That’s the point. See how we took a big task and broke it down to the specific piece that belongs only to YOU?

So, from your calendar to your inbox, what’s the stuff you don’t need to do? What’s the stuff you flat out shouldn’t be doing? Make a “Do Not Do” list. What are your goals? What’s the one thing that you are really great at? What are the things that ONLY you can do? And finally, what would make today amazing?

Answer these questions. Do those six things, and I’m betting you won’t need a clone. 😉

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Photo credit: pasukaru76

Brad Farris

As principal advisor of Anchor Advisors, Brad Farris has experience leading businesses & business owners into new levels of growth and success. Through his work with over 100 Chicago area small businesses he has experience in guiding founders and business owners through the pitfalls and joys of growing their business. Prior to joining Anchor Advisors, Brad spent over 10 years managing business units for a family-owned conglomerate with sales of $2 million to $25 million.  When he's not working, Brad enjoys cycling, cooking and the NFL. He is married with 5 children and lives in Chicago, Illinois. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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