Entrepreneurs, Here’s How You Can Identify Your “Highest and Best Use” (Part 2)
In Part 1, we covered the concept of “highest and best use”, and how it applies to entrepreneurship. Now let’s apply it to your business.
To help you identify those tasks that simply don’t represent the highest and best use of your time and mental energies, ask yourself these three questions:
- Can others do what I’m doing right now?
When you build a company from the ground up, it’s inevitable that you will wear many hats and do many jobs – from bookkeeping and graphic design to making deliveries and taking out the garbage. As the company grows, some of those tasks are easy to hand off, but others are more difficult. This is especially true when those tasks involve sensitive information related to the company’s financials, prototype design, business identity, etc. In those cases, the answer to the above question, may be a resounding “no”.
There are some things that only you can do to further your business. Whatever that task is, you’re the right person for it. Congratulations! You’ve found one example of your highest and best use.
But likely most tasks can be done by someone who can do the task at least as competently as you can. In those cases, the answer to the above question will be a “yes”.
- How well can they do it compared to me?
At first glance, you may be biased by your own competence and get stuck in the mindset that explaining the intricacies of a task to someone new just isn’t worth the time. From this viewpoint, it seems easier just to keep doing it yourself. However, the problem with that line of thinking is that you’re virtually guaranteeing that you will always be doing that job yourself, because you’ll never invest the time needed to train someone else.
There are only three possible answers to the above question: “Better than me”; “About the same as me”; or “Worse than me”. Asking that question to yourself requires that you really look at the task, and your own abilities, as honestly as you can.
If the answer is, “They can do it better than me,” then it’s a no-brainer. If it’s not your highest and best use, you almost certainly need to hand the task off. If the answer is, “They can do it about the same as me,” that’s still a good argument for finding someone else to do it. There are plenty of tasks where all that’s called for is simple competence — ordering office supplies, answering the phones, simple data entry — and which are clearly not going to be your highest and best use.
What about when the answer is, “They do it worse than me”? If it’s a relatively low-value task, how well it’s executed might not be all that important. There are plenty of tasks where the important thing isn’t that it’s done with expert skill, but simply that it’s done competently. If that’s the case, it can make plenty of sense to give that task to someone else, even if they could never be as good at it as you are.
- What else could you be doing with your time instead?
As your business scales, you will encounter the age-old balancing act between capacity and demand. Your time is the most limited commodity you have, and as you free up time by handing tasks off to others, it’s important to be thoughtful about where that time will be reinvested. By filling your schedule back in with tasks that only you can do, and which deliver the most value for your business, you are actively working towards your highest and best use.
The more you invest in your highest and best use, the more value you can generate for your business. You will be more productive, and, as a result, your business will grow more quickly. It can also be used as a process of continual refinement, in which you regularly revisit your responsibilities and identify tasks that can be delegated elsewhere, freeing up even more time for the tasks that only you can do.
Ask yourself the three questions listed in this blog post and determine in what areas you need to delegate a task to someone else.