Your business can, and should grow beyond you. Following my article a few weeks ago on quitting as the CEO of your business, a few people have been asking me whether this is possible in this economy, market, weather, traffic and so on.
Okay, I am joking about the weather and traffic, but you get the point that we sometimes wonder if this can actually happen, and look for reasons why it might not work.
I did a presentation a few days ago and got to define my version of leadership.
I believe leadership is seen not by what happens when you are there, but what happens when you are not there.
We are not good leaders and don’t really embrace the true spirit of entrepreneurship when our presence is what keeps everything together all the time.
When I ask people whether they can take a few days off work, a week or a month, I get gasps and surprised looks.
The truth is, if you are not intentional about starting or building a business that runs without you, it will just not happen.
One of the classes I teach in the Centonomy Entrepreneur programme is on vision. Of course people have visualised what they would like their business to be.
This could be having more outlets, employees, the impact it will have on customers, the type of culture among other things. This is good. But a very important question I ask is: What’s in it for You? This is not about what the business will achieve.
There has to be something beyond business growth and influence that is working for you at a personal level.
Money is great, but we have to go deeper than that. When we peel the layers, it is really about freedom. People would like to spend time on what they love to do.
They would like to go on a holiday for a week and not pick up the phone. They would like to explore other interests.
Time to think, plan, strategise, learn, among others. If this is you, you have to first decide that you want a business that can run without you.
Once you have made that decision, there is a price to pay.
The biggest cost is your ego. Let other people shine. I remember the first time I let another trainer teach my class, I thought I was going to die.
I kept wanting to interrupt because I would have chosen to say what he said differently. My students loved him, and he is still one of our top trainers to date.
Clearly, the students didn’t have a problem. I did. Rather my ego did.
I am not saying you get careless when letting go. I had trained the trainer. Do what you can. Teach people how to talk to your clients, how to write those proposals, how that equipment works, how to bill, what to say over the phone, how to deal with suppliers.
You can even have feedback mechanisms in your business so that you can quickly know what is working and what is not working.
These are processes and structures needed to support your growth. They will help you do other bigger things while your company is still running.
This decision will impact your hiring choices — the decision on whether to employ person A or B will depend on whether they can work independently or solve a problem.
The best ideas in your business may not come from you. At least not in everything but you have to encourage a culture that appreciates that.
This decision will also impact how you manage money. Another class I facilitate is on separating yourself financially from the business.
Yes, you can pay yourself and the business still runs. You will also not die if other key people in your company understand how money goes in and out.
It will work in your favour especially with the correct accountability measures.
As you consider all this, develop a bias towards action. This raises your frequency. Take a class that will help you set up these structures. Read that book.
List down all the things you would like to release and check off one at a time. You will be surprised to find there are some that you can do immediately.
As you make progress, test the business with a day or week off. Absence also allows you to discover how far you have come and what still needs to be worked on.