Learn To Let Go So Your Company Can Grow
In 2016, my client Mariah found herself at a tipping point that many entrepreneurs can relate to. Her business was growing in revenue, scaling quickly after several years of building.
Mariah had steered her company for 6 years but was spread so thin that the stress was beginning to show. Long work hours, neglecting friends and family, finding it difficult to find time to eat lunch or even visit the bathroom!
The situation was unsustainable. If she and her business were going to survive, things had to change.
Mariah had reached that tipping point where the skills that had brought her to that level were different from the ones needed to steer her business forward. It happens in every company that grows beyond the startup stage, so if you’re in that boat, you’re not alone.
You have some choices to make. Here are an even dozen questions to consider so that you can determine the best way forward in your business’ life cycle:
1. Can you go on like this? Typically, when you’re at this point, the answer is no. And yet you may feel you don’t have any other option. You do. You always have options.
You can’t pour more into an already full cup. In order to grow your business and have more freedom in your life, you have to let go to create space for something new and exciting to present itself.
One thing you can let go of: feeling guilty that you’re not doing more. You are doing enough. You are enough. 2.
Are you working IN your company or ON it? Here’s where the realization really hits home. If you’re bogged down in the day-to-day at this stage, you won’t have the time or energy to plan for the growth you dream about. Are there things you can delegate? Are there things that simply don’t need to be done anymore? 3.
What incremental changes can you make? That may include rejigging responsibilities, establishing processes to allow your employees to have more autonomy and not always involve you. Control alert: you’ll have to release the desire to manage everything. If you’ve chosen your people well, your role now shifts to one of coach and mentor, to help them build the confidence to take on more responsibility. You must allow space for them to do so, as much as you may want to step in, or they will never make this transition.
4. Are YOU willing to change? At this stage of your company, it’s just not an exercise in getting everyone else to change. YOU must change too. Are you willing to do things differently? Remaining obsessed with keeping the status quo will not serve you or your business. The good news is that you can change. You can learn and grow. You can become the leader you need to be in your company at this stage. When you embrace these changes, your path will be easier.
5. Are incremental changes enough? Even incremental changes will require your time and energy, and you will bump up against some of your own issues as you navigate the changes. Are they worth the effort, or is more required? It can be tempting to feel that incremental changes are less threatening, more comfortable for you. But they rarely are, if you really embrace them, and even so, incremental may not be enough.
6. Is your cash flow in order? One of the stressors at this growth stage is availability of cash. You won’t be able to make the shift to the next level without the funds to do it. So get your cash flow in order. Work with your accountant and mentor to map out a plan. Monitor the situation weekly, and keep an eye on expenses.
7. Are the people you have in your company now the right people to move the company to the next level? You’ll be relying more and more on your staff as you scale. Define what you need them to do, and assess whether they are up to it. If not, do they have high potential and are they coachable?
To help your staff make changes, prepare by giving incremental responsibility and also, importantly, authority over discrete areas. Instill a sense of pride and ownership over the responsibilities you are passing on. Discuss your expectations and goals, and ask if they have the time, resources, and support to get the job done right. Decide in advance how success will be measured and rewarded.
Not everyone has to be a leader, an idea generator. You may value those traits because you have them yourself. Keep in mind that other traits have value too. Some roles are filled just fine by someone who will consistently do good work as defined for them. 8.
Are you willing to be transparent? You have an important role to play in building your company’s culture. If you want to create a culture where employees feel empowered, attracts the best people, and builds loyalty, you need to display trust. Sharing information does that. They will then follow your lead and share too. That’s what leads to innovation.
For your staff to know the implications of their decisions, made with the new autonomy you’re providing, they have to understand the company’s financial situation. You can start small, by sharing the thoughts you are having about the acceptability of potential new projects or the implications of acting on a suggestion.
The best time to begin to share financials is when you are in a positive financial situation. Teach business financial literacy, or require your staff to attend a local or online course that helps them understand the fundamentals. The more you involve them, the more invested they will become and you’ll find yourself with an arrangement approaching a partnership.
9. Are you expecting enough? You and your people must be accountable for the success of the project and company as a whole. That shared responsibility means that everyone pitches in to get the job done. Look for ways to build camaraderie and connection, and actively require people to contribute by building group performance into compensation.
This accountability has to extend to you and your managers as well. Show people that you are willing to be held accountable too. If you set boundaries and then routinely break them, you’re showing your staff that you’re not accountable. Ask them to hold you to your decisions. For that to happen, there has to be an environment of trust that means they can point out where you’re not being accountable and it will be heard and not punished.
10. What’s your plan? Determine where you’d like to go: develop strategy and create goals. And here’s the most important part of the plan: make it live in your business by establishing action steps with defined accountability and allocation of resources. Be willing to revisit, revise, and realign your plan as the inevitable unexpected arises.
11. Is there a creative solution you haven’t yet considered, or fully considered? I know you’re creative, because you’re an entrepreneur. This is a great time to bring your creative juices to bear on the problem. Take some time to step back and consider what you might do to alleviate the pressure. Talk to your mentor or coach. Research or call up other business owners to see what they did.
12. Are you the best one to lead your company in this next stage of business growth? You’re human. You can’t do everything equally well – no one can. This can be a difficult question for founders to even consider. You’re so emotionally attached to your business, not to mention financially tied, that handing over leadership may be one of the toughest decisions you’ve ever had to make.
According to a Harvard paper, most entrepreneurs are motivated by money and control. These can directly conflict. I would also add impact to the mix. You’ll have to choose between attracting the resources to build a more valuable company, both financially and in terms of impact, and retaining control, which doesn’t allow you to build as valuable a company. It’s the rare founder that can have both.
When making this decision, consider your business. Consider your employees. Consider yourself. That triumvirate is tied to your future success. Many founders cede control at this point, and allow a veteran business builder to step into the CEO role. You may retain key aspects of your current role, such as business development and strategy. You don’t have to give it all away – keep the roles where you can really continue to bring value.
Once the decision is made to take this step of handing over operations to an experienced CEO, the key question becomes how to best make the transition smoothly.
If you want to grow your business, you’ll have to get out of the way. More money and more impact means that the founder has to make shifts to move into a new role. Let go of the responsibilities that weigh you down so you can do bigger things. That can happen gradually.
Does your business mean enough to you to keep it thriving and growing? These questions will help you define how you can do just that.
Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.
Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews
where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com
for free resources for you and your business.
This article was originally published at https://www.workalchemy.com/business-life-cycle-growth
and has been syndicated with permission.