Running a Business: Be Necessary But Not Sufficient

What is this thing? It’s a simple bolt and nut.

What does it do? It holds things together.

It has a job and a purpose. Consider a bolt and nut that will be used in a building. We might put it into something like this:

Once it is built, we might use it to hold up a building like this:

And then we tend to forget about it. That bolt might constantly do its job for a hundred years, or many more. It’s constantly working but we forget about it at our own peril. Expose that bolt to physical or chemical stress and over time it can be weakened. The result can be catastrophic.

We give Authority to that bolt to keep the building held up, but if we don’t maintain it, the bolt can fail. At least, today’s engineering methods provide multiple bolts, so that if one fails, the building doesn’t usually immediately collapse. An engineer might call this bolt ‘necessary but not sufficient’. It is required for the health of the building, but it alone is not enough to keep the building standing. If necessary, that single bolt could be removed and replaced while the building is in operation.

Become ‘Necessary But Not Sufficient’ to Your Business

In real estate, we are constantly talking about giving Authority to others to do the things we aren’t good at or don’t have time to do. We look at this as a good thing, but there is a tendency to take this too far. The ‘set it and forget it’ mentality is helpful until it becomes harmful. You may have many people in your organization all doing their tasks. You might take a high-level look and come to the conclusion that it is running well, but miss that many small parts are failing.

On the other hand, you might have an organization of just one person. You are doing it all yourself. You might have a lot of things in your business coasting along. It’s important to regularly inspect your investments and business and look for the small problems that can become bigger. Many people claim that there just isn’t enough income yet to hire help, but in reality, they don’t want to give up control. They keep too much Authority for themselves. These people make themselves the one bolt that holds up the building. Great for ego, but any little failure, like missing a phone call, can cause the business go to go pieces. Ask yourself if your business or investments would be able to continue without you.

It’s time to give some Authority to others and get that extra help. This will increase your resilience and help with your workload. Make yourself replaceable. I know that’s hard advice to take, but it’s planning for the future – that time where you will want to take a step back from the day-to-day. Do this right and, like the bolt, you and your workers each will have a small but important job in the entire organization. Make yourself necessary but not sufficient. And be replaceable.

Dr. Equity