As a business owner, you should have your succession strategy in mind. If you plan to sell your business down the road, one of the important considerations is whether or not your business can thrive without you. If it can’t, you will have a problem when the time comes to sell.
When you are involved in serving your customers directly, it’s an indication that you may have a problem in this area. As the owner, it does feel good to have customers rave about YOU and ask for your personally … but it makes it much harder to grow your business and it ultimately can devalue the business.
Often referred to as “Hub & Spoke,” you want to work to ensure that YOU are not the “hub” of the business. In other words, the business does not center around you or depend on you. If it does currently, you have a less than ideal for growth potential and future valuation. It’s something you’ll want to work to correct.
It’s often hard for business owners to let go. Most owners describe the business as their “baby.” As an owner, you might think no one knows the business like you do. And while that may very well be true, it shouldn’t be.
Here are three strategies you can use to to start letting go of control and ultimately improve the value of your company.
Eliminate the “fix” mentality.
Instead of working to teach and train employees how to fix problems that arise, instead, start thinking about how you can train them to prevent problems in the first place. It’s much easier to prevent problems than to fix them once something is broken. Fixing often requires a specialist. Preventing usually originates in service and execution of processes. The less there is to “fix”, the less you need to be personally involved.
Take a vacation … an extended one!
Start slow … take off weekends if you are used to working weekends. Stop answering emails at night. Stop answering your cell phone after hours. Take a week day off — REALLY take it off. You need to be completely unavailable. Then, work yourself up to a full week of vacation — REAL vacation, not a working vacation. Once you’ve mastered that, plan for FOUR weeks! If you can take four weeks off, you’ll prove that your team can execute a full business cycle without you. The idea of the four week vacation was presented by author Mike Michalowicz in his book, “Clockwork.” (Hint: pick it up and read it for the full model on how to accomplish this!)
The idea is to ultimately reduce your team and client dependence on the presence and availability of you personally. When you start slow, challenges in your systems and in your processes will reveal themselves. This gives you the opportunity to train your team in those systems and processes along the way (or to develop them if they are missing entirely). The goal is to eliminate dependence on you and to train and empower your team to handle anything and everything in your absence.
Ask your employees what they would do in your position.
Instead of solving problems and challenges for them, make them think like leaders and owners … ask them what they would do. You can train your team to problem solve simply by forcing them to do so … and giving them a safety net that it’s okay if they make a wrong decision. They WILL make wrong decisions, so you need to understand this. When less than optimal decisions are made, use it as a coaching moment instead of a reprimand. When they feel safe and empowered to make decisions for the good of the business, they’ll start doing it more. That’s how you develop employees that think like owners and free yourself of the company’s dependency on you.
Give it a try for the sake of your valuation. It’s critical that the business be able to function without you. As you let go of control, train your team to think like owners, and empower them to make decisions, you ultimately increase the value of your company by allowing it to thrive … without you!
If you’re ready to take your business and leadership skills to the next level, and if you think your business could benefit from more insights like what’s offered in this article, let’s start a conversation. LXCouncil may be the perfect next step!
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