"We just hired two virtual assistants!"
Gosh, that was a good day. This was a few years ago and our business had just gone from a team of three to a team of five. After a few referrals and a few interviews, contracts were signed, job descriptions were loosely agreed, and we were ready to rocket.
It was particularly exciting for me at the time because I was feeling over-stretched and was excited to dump all of the tedious admin tasks on my plate onto someone else's plate (or TWO someone else's plates in this case).
It was a proud moment.
Ahhh, and how quickly that pride turned to disappointment. Before the month was out, one of the virtual assistants changed her mind and decided she didn't want to be a VA after all. Before the year was out, we realized having the other VA just wasn't moving our business forward.
And you know what? It was only when we went back to being a team of two (my partner/husband and I) that our business really flourished to its full potential. Not only had we cut costs, we realized some of the work that had been done manually was better done using a software. And some of what was being done on our behalf was simply a waste of time. Our business got better, more profitable, and easier to manage by going back to just us. It wasn't sexy having zero employees, but it was better.
And we weren't the only ones. So many of the entrepreneurs I know were better off once they let go of some of their initially-proud "achievements." Some poured tens of thousands of pounds into building custom software, only to realize the software was too expensive to maintain and off-the-shelf products served them better. Some spent hours finding new team members, only to find those hires were toxic and holding the business back. And some diverted time, money, and energy to new product launches that fell flat because their customers were happy with what they already offered. The fancy software, new employees, or additional products they were once proud of became weights around their necks that needed to be closed down or fired so their businesses could perform better.
And that's why I am now so careful to recognize, and encourage my coachees to recognize, that it's not the thing or the "more" or the catchy sound-bites that we should boast about, it's the results and the impact. It's not how little we sleep; it's how much we accomplish while awake. It's not the number of hours we work; it's the number of high-value things that get done in those hours. It's not working harder that is something to be proud of; it's working smarter.
Sure, sometimes we should be proud when we hire someone (or build a software or launch a new product). And sure, sometimes we should be proud of how hard we work and how much we gave up to achieve our goals (you can't have something for nothing, after all). BUT, all I'm saying is that we should also watch what we are proud of to make sure that we are proud of the things that have a real, measurable, and positive impact on us and our businesses and not just the things that sound impressive or make us look like business bad-asses.
It's not the inputs that matter, but the outputs. It's not the "stuff" but the results. So watch what you are proud of, and make sure it is really, truly something to be proud of.