You had a vision and the drive to start something new. You opened the business and have built it up over time.
But are you the best person to keep running it?
It’s a tough question.
ActionCoach defines a business as a “profitable, commercial enterprise that works without the owner.”
Wikipedia defines an entrepreneur as “a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome.”
A true entrepreneur knows that acting as manager in their own operation is not productive. In many cases, it can even be detrimental to the business.
But how do you get out of your business in a way that benefits everyone — including yourself?
Owners who see their companies at a growth plateau, or feel “stuck” and unmotivated, need to ask themselves if their greatest strength is managing what they’ve built.
For many, it isn’t.
Entrepreneurs are not always the best managers. In fact, they are often some of the worst.
Recognizing that you may be the biggest obstacle is the first step. The next step is to assess the options and opportunities that will work best for your company and your personal situation.
If your goal is not to sell but to maintain the business, then it’s time to look for potential managers to put in place. This process takes time and planning.
Ideally, your business already has systems in place and a good team you can trust to run the operation. Look within your company for that one person, or even a group of people, who can take over the leadership of the company and run it long term.
If there is no management capability on your team, recruit for the position.
Look for one or two high-calibre people and let them work their way to the top. With mentorship and training, let their natural abilities lead their various divisions or areas. It will become obvious where they fit best in the company.
There are two options that are not as effective. These tactics can work, but this is often the exception, not the rule.
Making a clean, fast break may be the easiest way to replace yourself, but it’s usually not the best for the company. Bringing someone new into the business as you go out isn’t recommended. The new person has little or no institutional knowledge of your business or its history.
This kind of transition can be too drastic a change for employees and customers. Sometimes, it’s even too drastic for the business owner when they discover that the business is not the one they once had.
Putting a family member in charge can be a viable option if the plan of succession is well laid out. All team members need to be aware of the transition, and the person tapped to lead has to have paid their dues working in the company from the ground up. If not, there will be perceptions of nepotism and resentment among employees will build.
Often, skill sets don’t match the high standard of a founder. The shift from one generation to another can create envy and resentment, which leads to major problems that some companies cannot overcome.
Many issues in business start at the top. A company suffering a lack of sales might be led by an owner who is not a great salesperson. The company could lose focus because the owner/manager is chasing after every new idea and market trend.
Recognizing that you’re not the perfect salesperson, manager or marketing director isn’t bad. It can even be liberating, and possibly the best thing for the business.
You had the great idea, the brilliant innovation or the breakthrough product. But knowing that you’ve taken the business as far as you can is a breakthrough. It may be time to get out of the way and let a new team of professionals take over.
Develop a “dashboard” that has a summary of the information you need to know, the ongoing status of the company and when to be involved.
True entrepreneurs realize trading time for money is not the way to become wealthy. It may be time to move on — to start your next business venture, because entrepreneurship is what you do best.
ActionCoach is written by John MacKenzie of ActionCoach, which helps small- to medium-sized businesses and other organizations. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 403-340-0880.