Exit Strategies

How to Make Sure Your Business Keeps Running When You're Ready to Walk Away

Realize you can't hold the reins forever.
How to Make Sure Your Business Keeps Running When You're Ready to Walk Away
Image credit: Ezra Bailey | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Founder & CEO of CMCS and member of Young Presidents Organization
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For most entrepreneurs, including myself, the start of a new business venture usually depends on a single idea -- one we feel feel passionate enough about to invest in with our funds, time, resources and, perhaps even our lives.

This passion is what gives entrepreneurs the energy, power and resilience to make their visions a reality. Yet, the day will come when they need to exit their business with maximized returns.

For this to happen, you should plan from the start how they can exit the business -- or at least, become less involved in running it. By recognizing that you cannot be the only one performing every role needed to achieve the desired sustainable growth and success, you create a better structure for a future successful exit, without risking the collapse of the business.

Related: 2 Roadblocks to Successful Leadership Transitions

From my experience, you should decide on which of the three key roles to assume -- the visionary who will grow the business, the executor who will ensure successful delivery of products and services or the controller who will optimize operations.

The three roles are fully integrated and interrelated and must be performed in a cohesive and coordinated matter. Yet, taking on more than one role will put the business at risk.

For example, as someone who thinks primarily about growth and the future, I am less strict on employees' request for pay raise, additional perks or taking time off. An optimizer will be less tolerant, as this will cause the business to run at lower efficiency, as well as cause issues with other resources. Similarly, I want my customers to always be happy and pleased with what we are offering, but this could result in gold-plating the offer or committing to results that the delivery team cannot do. See why separating the roles is crucial?

Related: How a Mini-Retirement Brought Meaning to My Life

Visionary

If you want to be the visionary, which from my experience is optimal, then you should master the generation of new ideas and concepts that will keep the business always alive and ahead of the competition. The visionary role also includes setting the growth strategy, building the team and securing partnerships. In other words, the visionary should be the one who has the ultimate responsibility to lead the business into continuous growth and market leadership.

Executor

The second role needed to run a healthy and successful business is the executor. This is the role that ensures delivery is on time, within budget and meets quality standards. In other words, the executor's ultimate responsibility is to achieve customer satisfaction but without “gold-plating” the services and products deliverables.

Optimizer

The optimizer is the third important role needed to run a business. This is the role that will ensure the business operations are run efficiently and achieve the targeted return on investment and profitability. 

Related: 5 Ways Insightful Leaders Keep Their Teams Working Calmly During Tumultuous Change

Having those three roles run by competent team members will not only increase the likelihood of having a successful business, but it will also ensure the business will continue if those performing those roles get replaced. In a way, it will help you not blindly fall in love with the idea and the passion associated with it, but be comfortable to let go when the right time comes.

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