No one can read your mind! Document what you want, how you want it, and what resources are available to use to create what you need. When I started hiring software developers, I would not take the time to document User Stories, the bigger picture of the software, or how everything would work together and then end results were always disappointing. It wasn’t until I took the time to set up the task that the execution by our software team was amazing!
Remember that if you do everything, you’re getting things done in a very linear fashion. In order to grow your business faster, you need many people doing many different things simultaneously.
As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Micah Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder of BGBO Co., an operations and growth strategy consultancy. Micah helps companies skyrocket their businesses by creating and improving processes that help them proactively address roadblocks to growth. He has founded, merged, scaled, and sold multiple companies as a serial entrepreneur. In his 18 years of experience, he has been a CEO, COO, and CTO; and, he truly understands what it takes to make a company (and its culture) thrive.
Since successfully exiting his previous multi-million dollar company, Micah launched BGBO Co. to help startups and e-commerce businesses gain insight, create strategic plans, fine-tune business operations, improve processes, get projects finished on-time or early, incorporate new technologies, improve their company culture, learn how to manage remote teams across multiple departments, and more.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I first got started as an entrepreneur when I was 20 years old. I dropped out of college after my second semester to pursue my own business ideas. I worked around the clock, made sales calls during the day, and then turned around and did client work at night. That business gave me the confidence to continue growing and scaling companies. A few years after starting, I merged it with a larger company and got my first taste of what could be possible. Afterward, I started and built up a software company, which I exited in 2018. I now consult for other companies doing what I love most — creating processes and improving their operations so that they can scale and grow.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
In my first business, I also worked a full-time job at RadioShack (gotta do whatever it takes sometimes!) so that I had income while building my business.Money was tight in the beginning and for a while after that. I rented a loft apartment above an art studio and many times ate army rations for dinner. I loved painting, but I couldn’t even afford canvases; I painted on expanded cardboard boxes. It was not glamorous back then! I never gave up though, and I knew I could do it. My drive came from the internal push of seeing other entrepreneurs, who weren’t necessarily very skilled, still have a successful business. That inspired me to take the plunge of starting my own business and dropping out of college. I have not looked back since.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I’ve made so many mistakes! My biggest mistake and learning curve was not looking at the red flags I’d see in interviews and being too optimistic about whether they could do the job that I was hiring for. That really hurt the culture of the company in the beginning. We’d have team members that ended up having to carry too much of the weight while other team members were only causing more problems. I finally had the realization slap me in the face when one of my top employees got in a yelling match with me over not hiring someone just because they could do some of the job! Sometimes we need that slap in the face! After that moment, I stopped doing the hiring and delegated it to people that were better at it than myself.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We are very selective of the companies that we work with. We want to enjoy working with them and truly know that we can add value to their business. We aren’t looking to chase down every sale there is, and that is a good place for us to be in and even better for our clients! We realized early on that 80 percent of our time was being taken up by clients that really weren’t a good fit for us. We adjusted from there to make sure every moment we spend on client work is providing real value!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I know how hard business can be; I have been burnt out before! Now everyday I ask myself, “What can I do to bring myself joy today?” That has helped me slow down and enjoy this journey rather than push, push, push! I think the most obvious thing is also to not try and do everything yourself. Upwork has been a great tool to find experts in areas that can execute quickly on exactly what you need to do. This is especially important when you are a startup and don’t have the resources to hire employees for everything you need.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My Co-Founder at BGBO Co., Alane Boyd. She and I ran my previous software company together and after exiting started BGBO Co. together (She was also the one that called me out on my hiring practices!). I have been able to learn a lot from running businesses with her, and she really showed me that we all have blind spots and need to let those with stronger skill sets in certain areas lead in those areas.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
- The most important reason and the hardest thing entrepreneurs need to let go of is that you aren’t good at everything! No one is. It is also better to embrace other other perspectives and not just your own.
- Unless you want to be the sole person in your business for the rest of your life, you most likely want to grow and scale. In order to do that, you have to be able to delegate. The best way to do this is to create processes that can be followed by anyone. We like using Asana project management software to create templates, how-tos, and checklists for teams to utilize.
- Save yourself your two most valuable resources: time and money. Your time is valuable and you need to maximize your time by the most beneficial work you can offer your company. Delegating gives you the time to focus on that important work.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
This one made me laugh because, as I was just saying previously, we all suffer from the ego mentality of “no one can do it as good as I can.” This is the #1 reason we hear people say they “can’t” delegate. The #2 reason is the mentality that “it’s just quicker to do it myself than have someone else do it.” With well-designed processes, good hiring practices, and correct starting expectations, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much trust can be built through a few simple tasks done right.
In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
- Ask yourself these questions before jumping in and doing a task:
- Should I really be spending my time on this?
- Am I the best person to be doing this?
- Could this be done by someone else?
- Create a how-to on how something needs to be done. This might even be a video showing the steps on how to do it. Employees could even further this step by taking that video and putting it into a templated checklist.
- Have a set of examples on what you have done or others have done so that you are talking abstractly about what your future goals and what it will take to achieve them. For instance, you have data for a case study you want created but need it designed so it looks nice. Before just handing it off to a designer, give them visuals of ones you like and what aspects of them you like the best!
- Have a resources section (we have a project in Asana with tasks of different resources that either link to webpages, knowledge base docs, Dropbox, Google Docs, etc.) that your teams can easily reference. Digging for information is where most team members waste their time and where delegation breaks down before they can even start.
Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
- It is never going to be exactly like you would do it, and that is better than okay!
- In the beginning, a task may take others longer to execute than it would have taken you, As an entrepreneur, think about how many books and articles you’ve read, how many meetings you have been a part of, and how people you’ve spoken to about your company. Now compare that to the person you have delegated to for further understanding of the place they are in professionally.
- Stop doing your own bookkeeping and find a freelancer! Watching money go in and out can be extremely stressful for an entrepreneur. Even if you are financial-minded and enjoy doing it, it is work that can be done by an inexpensive expert. It will save you more than time; it will save your sanity. I remember trying to do it myself, and I would get to the point that I felt sick for days. It was truly unneeded because of how accounts payable and accounts receivable flow through a company. The moment I started delegating that and only saw reports at the end of the month, I was able to keep myself mentally sane!
- No one can read your mind! Document what you want, how you want it, and what resources are available to use to create what you need. When I started hiring software developers, I would not take the time to document User Stories, the bigger picture of the software, or how everything would work together and then end results were always disappointing. It wasn’t until I took the time to set up the task that the execution by our software team was amazing!
- Remember that if you do everything, you’re getting things done in a very linear fashion. In order to grow your business faster, you need many people doing many different things simultaneously.
One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
It really is quoted too often! I even referenced it earlier in our interview. I firmly believe that it is false. If you truly feel that way, you are going about things blindly. There is a good trio to always put together for delegating successfully: you communicate clearly what you want and need, you have a skilled person to execute the task(s), and you provide the right tools for them to do the job. For instance, if you delegate a design project to someone not skilled at design, it doesn’t matter how well you communicate because they aren’t the right person for the job. However, if you give them a tool like Canva and have them watch a few Skillshare design videos, they may just be able to pull together something that looks fantastic, saving you hours of work!
You also need to provide constructive feedback to those that you delegate too. It can be hard for people to communicate what they didn’t like about the other person’s work because they don’t want to upset them. However, if a person never knows you weren’t happy with the outcome, then they cannot improve.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It’s something we are actively working on at BGBO Co, but making sure that everyone on the team is also part of the success of the business. Too often power and rewards are imbalanced in businesses. The reality is that leaders are supporters of the team, and it’s their team that is doing the real value work.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!