Reasons to step back from business:
1. Are you too integral to the running of the business? This may put off or affect a buyout. If your aim is not to do an earn out you need to start stepping back
2. To build your brand. Put emphasis on building your culture creating a pull to the brand not you, so the profit is not related to any person. Therefore, if you decide to leave or sell, the pull will keep the customers
3. An interesting idea is to step away from the business to the extent where cracks begin to appear. This bit of space also allows you the visibility to tackle certain issues (e.g.: stability or structuring) and allow you to revaluate where the business sits in the marketplace
4. You need to recognise when your business needs someone with fresh ideas to take the business further. This is usually clear when you feel tired of your involvement with the business and you have run out of ideas!
5. Borrow from accountants and apply the idea that everyone in your business has a charge-out rate, use this to identify the jobs where it is cheaper for an employee to complete a task, rather than you, despite the longer amount of time it might take them
6. If you don't take time away - how can you test the strength of your internal processes and management? This needs to be tested and implemented to achieve those long-term goals of the business
7. Ask yourself: If I take a day off will everything fall apart? The answer should be 'no'. If it isn't, there is even more reason to work on implementing efficient internal processes to have a level of detachment from the business
8. After stepping away, you will enjoy work more as you don't get irritated by the small decisions. You can focus on new opportunities and winning bigger business that you would never have had the time to do before
How do you prepare yourself and your team for change?
You can start by getting your own office. Being away from the day-to-day means that you don't get so distracted and involved so your productivity is increased.
Undertake leadership training. Take time to focus on your skills. By doing so you'll be removing yourself from the business for periods of time. You'll get that much needed headspace to think more long-term and strategically.
It's time to start delegating. Pass on responsibility to a potential successor and help them to take control by getting rid of the shareholders that are holding you back.
For personal growth (if you aren't ready to fully step back) find a mentor that can advise you and act as your sounding board. This person should have the experience that you lack so that you can learn from them and their personal experiences.
Feeling ready? Now it's time to prepare the troops.
Understanding the importance of an executive team, and the role they can play in taking your business to the next level, is an important step. Whether you are building your senior team to scale, or to help you step back in time for an exit, a strong team can make the transition smoother and quicker.
To step into a new role, you need to make sure that you and your senior team are fully aligned and most of all you trust them. You must have a team in place that you know can run the show when you aren't there and a senior team that you believe can run the business as well as you can.
- Sit with management team and discuss disaster recovery - if they were out of the business who would they choose to step in? Let the person know they are the next in line and offer training to enable them to develop into this role. This will build their confidence and loyalty to the business
- Rather than stepping in yourself when management are out of the business could you promote a more junior person and coach them? This will avoid you being the only point of contact in the business and allow you to concentrate on projects that would have otherwise gone on hold.
- Depending on your business consider getting two number 2s - one commercial and one more technical
- Get the KPls of your staff right and make sure their roles are specific and defined
- Ask team to tell you when you are jumping in and over-riding them - yellow card and red card system
- Apply the 80% rule: identify jobs where it's enough even if employees only get to 80% of where you would want
- Be open with employees, make them understand why it's important you have time away from the business. They will support you in this
- Make the vision of the business clear to everyone. If you don'ttell people what's happening next how can they lock onto next big thing of business?
- Build some mystery (around you, not the business) so you're not always available and immediately contactable
Tips for developing your staff
- Map out goals for the business and break these down into tasks needed to complete those goals. Ask employees which they think they are responsible for and which they would like to be responsible for
- Create jobs/tasks that are up for grabs if people with appropriate skills want them. Delegate these to them - if they don't have appropriate skills then suggest training so they can gain those skills
- Make time for key people. Arrange monthly one-to-one with each of them. This should take place outside of the office and focus is on them, their personal and professional goals. These should be immovable in your diary
- If you understand what motivates them and how they want to progress it should help you to offer incentives that they really want
- Across the team ask everyone to look one level up and focus on how they could get there
These tips should get you well on the way to being prepared to step away from your business. However, it's worth remembering stepping back from your business can have an impact on your emotions. Watch member Charlie Mowtat discuss how he managed his emotions when stepping back here.
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