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Do you own a business, or do you own a job?
The answer to this question can be a hard pill to swallow.
Since day one, your business has been built around your hard work: the hours you put in, the customers you secured, the services you provide.
But here comes the uncomfortable truth. If, in your role as CEO, you spend 40 or more hours a week working in your business then you don’t really own a business at all.
You own a job.
An important mindset shift
There is, of course, nothing wrong with having a job. Growing from a start-up to a medium-sized business or a large enterprise with lots of employees is not everyone’s vision. Many business owners are happy running everything themselves and maintaining their business status quo.
And no one could dispute the merits of working hard, either. The hands on approach is vital in the early stages of a business, and hustling is an important competitive edge when you’re starting out.
But if your goal is to rapidly scale your company – or even to sell your business one day – then you need to change your mindset and your habits. You need to recognise that the hard work that got you to where you are cannot and will not get you to the next stage.
Could your business survive without you?
Many business owners wear the fact that they are integral to their business as a badge of honour. Only they know how to keep their company operational, and they spend hours and hours every day on keeping things running. They live their business, 24/7.
But the truth is, these CEOs don’t really own their business: their business owns them.
Ask yourself this: if you took a step back from the day-to-day running of your business – for a long holiday or due to unexpected illness, say – how long would things keep running smoothly?
For some businesses, the answer may be weeks. For others, it may be days, or even hours. But a truly effective business – a business that is prepared to grow at scale and pace – should be able to function almost flawlessly without the CEO being involved. A good CEO should operate at a distance.
In order to truly own your business, your company needs strategic processes in place that your employees can follow without your input.
Finding the right people
Being able to step back from the running of your company means hiring people you trust. Your success as a business owner rests on how well you recruit and manage the employees who will actually be carrying out the company’s work.
Take a forensic look at your recruitment and HR policies and processes, and make sure that you are doing everything you can to attract and retain the best talent to your company. When looking for staff you can entrust critical tasks to, you should assess both their ability to do the task and their personality. Be explicit about what you want from them, and ensure that they are willing and able to take on the role you’re asking them to do.
Mentorship should play an important role in your business, too. Let your employees know that they can achieve their goals within your company, and train them in the areas and skills they will need to master to help your company grow. Invest in your staff and teach them your approach. After all, if you are going to step back from the running of your company, then at a certain point you will need to delegate some of your decision-making to them, too.
Delegation and automation
If you want something done properly, you have to do it yourself, right? Wrong.
You’ve invested a lot of time and effort into finding good employees, so utilise them. Delegate the work that occupies your day as CEO to your team. This will take trust and training, but it is a vital step in extracting yourself from the day-to-day running of your business.
But how can you be sure that your business will be run the way you want it to be? The temptation to jump back in and personally involve yourself again can be strong, so ensure that your employees have structured, documented processes to follow. Empower your team by handing over all of the knowledge and tools that they need to excel in their roles.
There may even be aspects of your business that can be automated entirely using software. Delegating your workload to employees is a great way to identify the areas where your business processes could be made more efficient.
Work smarter, not harder
Hard work is the key to getting a business off the ground and through its initial phases. But if your vision for your company’s growth goes beyond these early stages, then you as CEO need to dedicate more time to developing it and unleashing your company’s true potential. And the only way to find that time is to spend less of it on the day-to-day running of your business.
You need to stop working in your business, and start working on your business.
This might not be an easy thing to do. You need to break old habits. You need to delegate. You need the right people, following the right processes.
But put all of this in place successfully and you can truly call yourself a business owner.
Want to discuss how an effective process strategy can free up your time to focus on business growth? Schedule a call with Process Bliss.