The Best Way for Your Business to Thrive Is for It to Not Need You
What is your real goal as a business owner? Is it to grow revenue? Increase your bottom line? Serve your customers in ever better ways? Be a place where your staff and stakeholders are richly rewarded for doing meaningful work that matters? It's to do all these things, and one thing more -- to build an owner-independent company.
One of my mentors taught me this crucial concept: The only way to sustainably scale your company is to free it of its crippling dependency on you.
An owner-independent company is built on the stable base of systems, teams and culture, and because of this it can handle the temporary blows of the marketplace and continue to grow and thrive. I think that the best example of this is Apple, which has become the first trillion-dollar company in the world. Plus, by building a business, not a job, you, the owner, can get your life back, too.
Here are just three simple suggestions to get you moving to transform your company into an owner-independent business.
1. Set up systems.
On a typical day, have you tracked how many times you have to help an employee complete a certain task because he is unsure of the process to follow? Do you know how many fires you have to put out because a staff member wasn't sure of how to proceed with a particular situation? If you had an owner-independent business, the answer would be zero.
These entrepreneurs have built a foundation of processes and procedures on which their company can grow and thrive. Their company has captured its best practices into an organized collection of tools to make sure the right things get done in the right way.
Onboarding a new hire, or covering a shift while someone is out sick or on vacation, doesn't phase an owner-independent business. It has systems in place for how to post on social media, make payroll deposits, handle an upset customer -- and everything in between. Smart business owners know that their systems are never complete, and they enlist the help of every staff member to keep their systems and controls up to date and accurate.
Tip: Policies and procedure manuals are a thing of the past. Use a system like Dropbox or Egnyte to create a searchable archive of all your systems. Your staff should be able to find the file in question within 60 seconds! The key is to name your documents so the next person can easily find them with a quick search of the electronic, cloud-based folder.
2. Let go.
After you have a solid set of systems in place, the next thing you need to master is the art of letting go. While this seems like a given, my experience has shown that this step is the hardest for most entrepreneurs to master.
You have taken the time to build your business from the ground up, you have poured your soul into your products and processes, and now you're supposed to just let it all go?
Yes. Letting go of the reins allows you to free up your time for the things that matter in your business. When you are no longer fighting fires and chained to your inbox, you have the freedom to put your attention toward scaling and growing your business.
Letting go of the reins also allows your management team and staff to take ownership of their positions and shine. This simple act of faith shows that you trust your team, your systems, and your company culture. Richard Branson went as far as to give his employees unlimited holidays because this has created better teamwork where they are willing to collaborate and help one another more but also increase employee loyalty to his company.
Tip: Baby steps are key here. Begin by taking a short vacation. Upon your return, review what worked and what didn't and adjust your systems accordingly. Then schedule a two-week vacation -- and then a month-long one -- until you get comfortable letting go.
3. Use the dimmer switch.
Once a business owner has a good set of systems in place and has mastered the art of letting go, the last thing left to do is keep her finger on the pulse of the company. When it comes to running any business, that control should be more like a dimmer switch as opposed to an on/off switch.
There will be times in business that will allow you to go a month or more with little input needed, but in times of growth or product development, you might need to adjust the control dimmer and bring your expertise to the table. Which is where a true entrepreneur loves to shine.
Tip: Empower your key team members with reporting scorecards they can share with you at regular intervals. This will allow you to make key business decisions and give your staff the tools to make informed decisions in your absence.
Setting up an owner-independent business is something most entrepreneurs only dream about. With these three concrete steps, you can make that dream a reality and take your business to the next level.