Can your business survive without you?
This question is considered by many business owners as their business grows, transitioning from a small to medium-sized business.
The owner may be itching to move on to the next new venture, or, after working non-stop for years, they are looking for an opportunity to step away, take a break, or focus on other aspects of their life while the business works for them.
It can be challenging to remove yourself from the day-to-day operations of a business, but the benefits include more freedom to create and focus on other parts of the business rather than micromanaging all aspects of the daily grind.
To set the business up to work for you, it must be able to scale and grow. Efficient and profitable business scalability is all about increasing output while keeping costs low. Systems and processes must be in place to support the scaling, which includes the processes around the people in the business:
- Manage Your Ego
- Hire the Right Team – Keep Your Values in Mind
- Set Your Team Up for Success – Onboard Thoroughly and Train Consistently
- Retain the Value of Senior Team Members – Empower through Autonomy
- Develop a Strategy for Succession Planning
Manage Your Ego
Founding and growing a business comes with a lot of passion and many times, ego. The business becomes part of you – like a child that you have birthed, raised, and trained. Owners often struggle to release control of their business and fear what will happen if they loosen the reins and step away from the business.
“The business cannot survive without me. If I leave, it will fall apart.”
That is ego talking. If you are working to build a sustainable business or if you are trying to raise investment, that ego speak will put you at risk.
For investors, reliance on one person to keep a business running is a significant risk. If the systems and processes are not in place to keep the business running successfully even if the founder steps away or cannot continue running the company day to day, it shows that the business is not focused on long-term growth.
What must you as a business owner do to ensure that your business is strong enough to survive your departure?
Pick the right team, train them well, give them autonomy, and be clear on your succession plans.
Hire the Right Team – Keep Your Values in Mind
Your company’s values are the pillars your company is built on and should guide all decisions, including, importantly, whom you choose to join your team.
Develop a human resources strategy that is aligned with your overall business strategy and goals. Rely on that to build your team systematically. Once team members with critical skills required to execute or provide the product or service are present, this can increase the company’s likelihood of success.
Your HR strategy should include information on legal requirements, employee engagement, career advancement, corporate image, and performance management. A key part of this human resources strategy is the process of adding people to your team, and what you do when they start.
How can you ensure that new employees feel motivated to work for the success of the company? Onboard them properly and train them well.
Set Your Team Up for Success – Onboard Thoroughly and Train Consistently
Without proper onboarding and training, new hires are left to sink or swim. If not properly supported when starting out, employees may move on more quickly, resulting in wasted resources in repeated recruitment.
To encourage employees who are committed to the growth of the company, develop programs that allow new hires to quickly adapt to and execute both company-wide and job-specific requirements. This encourages employees to become familiar with the overall operations of the company and helps them to understand how their role fits into and adds value to that structure. Share documented workflows and processes of current employees as reference points and as training tools.
Keep in mind that even existing employees, especially those who are strong, driven, and goal-oriented, will not stay with a company that is not offering training opportunities and showing paths for growth and development. Not investing in employees can negatively impact the company’s growth. Put time and money into the human capital which makes your business run.
Retain the Value of Senior Team Members – Empower through Autonomy
Once you have identified and developed the skills of team members, then you are set to take the step to reduce the reliance on the founder or CEO in the day-to-day operational activities. This starts by building leaders and empowering them to act independently.
Build confidence and autonomy in your leadership team to create a pool of potential successors. Avoid constantly vetoing and second-guessing their decisions as that undermines their authority, autonomy, and sense of shared ownership.
Develop a Strategy for Succession Planning
What happens to my business when I am gone?
Effective succession planning requires proactive knowledge transfer which will enable your business to capture the skills and competencies of departing employees so that the right successors can be selected and groomed for a smooth transition.
Without succession planning, your business could be at risk when employees and leaders retire or move on.
Think critically about the direction in which you want your business to grow. Identify the key positions needed for your company to operate and grow effectively. Develop strategies for grooming leaders who can run the business in line with the strategic direction of the business. Outline the plans for career advancement and mentorship for eventual successors.
To set your business up to survive when you are gone, address and identify gaps early, choose and train the right people, and understand that your company surviving without you is a sign of the company’s strength, and is the reflection of the strong leader who created the structures.