“We don’t need you anymore.”
These five words can be a stinging rebuke if they come from a loved one, but if they come from those in the business you’ve founded, they can be golden!
Whether to spend time on other endeavors, for an exit strategy, or simply to maximize growth, building a company that can flourish without you is a fundamental business practice.
Creating ‘walk away’ wealth
Creating real “walk away” wealth is a prime reason to build a business that can thrive without you. It also prevents succession problems.
Many successful family businesses go bankrupt as soon as they are passed from one generation to the next or internecine strife tears the family apart when it’s time to make difficult succession decisions.
And if at any point you want to slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labor, the company has to be built to assure its success without your continued direct involvement. Being able to delegate is crucial.
Author and “sellability” expert John Warrillow points out the importance of relying on delegation to create a company and career you can enjoy in the “here and now.”
“Even if you know you don’t want to sell for a long time, sellability is important, because at the core of sellability is the idea that your business can thrive without you always being personally involved,” says Warrillow.
“This means you can cherry pick the fun parts of running a company and delegate the rest. You can take vacations and you can sleep well knowing you’re building an asset you could sell or pass down, if and when you want to,” he explains.
Success in the knowledge economy
Economists have outlined the progression in the commercial economy from manufacturing to services and now to knowledge. If you are the founder of your company, there’s a very good chance you’re the knowledge, idea or inspiration person. Do any of those descriptions sound like you?
And perhaps you are solopreneur or freelance executive where the whole business revolves around your expertise – what then?
As an originator, the tendency is for you to become a gatekeeper. It’s natural for employees to seek your approval and for you to want to maintain total control. This can be okay as long as it’s the “vision” you are controlling and not every small decision. Recognize the areas where you bring value and don’t dilute it.
And as a solopreneur or consultant look at how you can leverage your expertise and have others implement, so that you can focus on activities that generate more business and increase your reputation.
Maintaining operational agility
Les McKeown in his über-successful, “Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track—And Keeping It There,” explains the vital importance of putting in place both the processes and the players that will allow a business to scale without floundering when it hits what he calls “white water” – the inevitable challenge of growth beyond the comfort zone.
If you become a business bottleneck it can easily kill growth and the ability to quickly respond to both opportunities and challenges. It’s critical to prevent this from happening.
The deep talent pool of freelancers available today gives small business owners a way to stave off these squeeze points. Leaders who pull together virtual teams can quickly deploy effective resources in areas where help is needed.
Startups often find themselves presented with an immediate opportunity that requires a rapid scale up or pivot. But when you are closely watching overhead in the early days, prudent business planners may not have the staff available to deal with sudden changes.
Tapping Virtual Assistant talent
The variety of skills available in the worldwide pool of virtual assistants today is impressive. Marketing, design, programming, editorial and administrative are just some of the functions available via a virtual assistant company.
Sandra Lewis, Founder of Worldwide101 explains, “Businesses often require a complex set of tasks – so you need a virtual team member that can fulfill whole functions or even multiple functions. You need to make sure you are looking for a ‘business-grade’ VA company that can provide skilled assistants. They’ll become an integral part of your team.”
Assembling a virtual team is both cost efficient and an effective way to delegate in the short and medium term; the procedures and processes you’ll put in place to make it work will pave the way for a business that can flourish without you.
What’s your advice for business owners looking to create a business that doesn’t rely solely on them?