On the spectrum of control freak to, well, not, there is Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Carter is famous for doing everything himself, including scheduling the White House tennis courts. Ronald Reagan was far less of a micromanager and let his staff have wide discretion on day-to-day affairs, although he did have final say (he was the President after all).
Of course, when you started your creative business you were Jimmy Carter. You did everything – sales, production, accounting, and sweeping. Then you got bigger and hired a few people. You still did everything, but you had help. Then you got even bigger and realized you could not do it all. So the people you hired had to do it without you and, maybe, without you knowing. You told yourself you did not really need to know because, hey, that is what has to happen as the business grows. You have to be Ronald Reagan. Except that you are not. Something goes kaflooey and you only find out after the fact. Those details you pride yourself on did not happen and you cannot fix it. Panic. Huge problem and you have to make sure it does not happen again. Style. Rinse. Repeat.
We can talk all day long about the highest and best use of your time both as an artist and creative business owner, but if you are hamstrung by the size and scope of your business, you will forever play small. Many professionals and people much smarter than me will tell you that the key is to let go. I even thought so when I first started consulting three years ago. As with all things, I have evolved my thinking to the following: you have to be who you are. The information you need is the information you need. Nobody is allowed to judge the quality or quantity of the information, they just have to be in the business of supplying it to you how and when you need it. What you do have to let go of is only that it is your job to create the information. It is not and cannot be. The value of information is in its communication.
In today’s world there is no excuse for you to not get the information you need. It is not unreasonable to ask that a video be taken and sent to you if it will give you comfort. A schedule to be updated hourly. Whatever information you require should be at your fingertips. Whether it is the job of your vendors, employees, colleagues, even clients, to provide the information, nothing is out of bounds so long as there are no surprises.
The work is to figure out where you stand on the Carter/Reagan spectrum and honor that place. With that understanding you can then set out making your list of information you have to have to feel like you have a handle on things. Then you can make sure that information is given to you when and how you need it (i.e., every Monday at 9:00 via email, or via Skype every third Tuesday). A suggestion – what information is generated is the responsibility of a specific person(s). However, the responsibility to present the information (i.e., the gathering and distribution) should rotate. If only one person is responsible for supplying you information, those responsible for generating the information will ultimately lose respect for the importance of the task. Rotating keeps respect in tact.
What you cannot do, though, is constantly change your mind. If there are 100 pieces of information you need, then you will get those 100 pieces, not 99 or 150. Yes, you can evolve what you need over time – move closer to Reagan than Carter — you just cannot do it daily. That is just crazy making and will keep you small not matter the size of your creative business.
Very well meaning advisors will tell you that you do not need to know or worry about so and so. Since they are not you, they are wrong. If you get the information you need, when and how you need it, you will find freedom. Freedom to explore what is next, to discover your future and that of your creative business. And, make no doubt, that exploration and discovery is and will always be the highest and best use of your time.