You’ve probably wondered at one point in your entrepreneurial life if it was possible to manage a business and not be in the thick of things, because perhaps you want time to have a baby, or hike Machu Picchu, or enroll in an Intensive Business Mastermind course.
Whatever it is that you want, being stuck in managing a business and all the ‘doing’ of the day-to-day operations can ruin any chance at gaining the entrepreneurial freedom needed to fully honour such important life events.
Steps On How To Run Your Business Without Doing It Yourself:
- Think expansion rather than contraction
- Plan strategically
- Redefine your processes
- Empower your team
- Let Go
So what is one to do?
Do you close it down? Make it smaller? Get someone else to run it for you?
With any major life goals or events, you will find yourself under a lot of pressure to suddenly fire yourself from your own business. If you don’t know how to do this effectively, you will find yourself going smaller and descending into stress and chaos pretty quickly.
We’ve put together five simple steps on how to run a business without doing it yourself while continuing to grow it and empowering your team to confidently take the reigns without you.
Step 1: Think expansion rather than contraction
If you want to know how to run a business without being actually there, then the first crucial step is to think in an expansionary rather than a contractionary mode.
Fear makes you contract.
As a business owner, you start to think, “If I can just close it down a bit so that it’s safe to take time off, then nobody’s going to need me so it will be less stressful.”
This is a mistake because doing so would just contract your income and, in turn, stall your business.
Instead, if you think expansionary and ask yourself, “How can I continue to grow my business, and hit my goals without me being there?” That’s a mindset shift that you absolutely have to get into, and you have to get into it pretty quickly when a major life event looms.
When you have a business, it’s often more stressful to shrink it because it’s still a business. You can’t just walk away unless you close it completely and then you have to start all over again.
Whereas if you contract it, you normally have to get rid of the good people in order to afford the business to continue.
Expanding your business, whilst in the short term may seem a little bit more stressful, in the long term, is actually easier and way less stressful (when you do it right).
Step 2: Plan strategically
Managing a business takes up all of your free time, so when you feel the need to take a step back, you have to strategically plan for whatever time away you are going to need or take. Whatever you’re planning to do, you have to immediately go into strategy mode.
You can’t bury your head.
Planning is going to take some time to do. It could take six or even twelve months to execute effectively. You could do it in three months if you are very onto it but there are a myriad of challenges you will face.
To do it right, you’ll need to look at your business from all different angles. Examine all the different areas that need to be covered, paying particular attention first to the areas and processes that rely on you.
Slowly take yourself out of every single process by mentoring and empowering your team to take over.
Plan your exit from the smallest process you are involved in first and then work your way up to the biggie. Challenge yourself to move toward that one slowly, getting the smaller ones right first so you give yourself and your team the confidence to get it right.
You need to plan this methodically and strategically. You can’t plan for this to work the day before your baby is due or your flight leaves.
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Step 3: Redefine your processes.
You may already have a system working for you and your team but it’s probably set up with you as the team leader in mind. Your processes will need to be reassessed once you decide to take a break from your business. So go through all your processes with a fine-tooth comb. You will likely have to redo them and refine them so they work when someone else is doing them.
Trust and confide in your team. Let them know that you’ll be going through all the processes and will need their help in getting the system right. Emphasise that it’s important to work on it together so that you can fill in whatever gaps you find in the processes with them.
Accept (and expect) that there will be a period of confusion and mistakes when the handover of the process occurs and you extract yourself.
Allow for a period of time where you just let your team do it, and then watch for the mistakes. There will be mistakes!
Communicate together each day and each week in your team huddles to evolve the process. When a business owner is still involved in a process, it’s usually not a very ‘clean’ one. It needs to be very clean, and very clear so someone else can do it who does not necessarily have the same IP as the business owner.
Let your team make mistakes, and don’t go wild at them.
Don’t lose it! That will be counter-productive.
Don’t expect it to work on day one. Instead, expect it to fail. Expect your processes to have holes in them, and watch out for them. Expect them to be inefficient, and then work together with your team to refine them, and get feedback from your team on the holes they see in the process.
Step 4: Empower your team
So now you have refined your processes. All should be great right?
You now need to empower your team to take over. There needs to be a handover time where you say, “Okay, now you’re going to do this, and I’m going to support your decision making.”
Some processes will involve a moment of decision making. Your team may make different decisions from you and this could become a problem for you. Until you support decision making and teach them how to make decisions, you will never get your team confident enough in their own ability to perform at the level you want.
Think of it as a mentoring opportunity. As someone who knows how to run a business and manage teams, you have to allow for adjustments. Give your team space to observe your decisions and understand why you went this way instead of the other way.
Get all your team together and reassure them. Tell them you are really proud of the whole team and how well they are collaborating and working together to make this all happen.
Let them know that stuff is going to happen in your absence, stuff will go wrong and they may feel challenged. Let them know they have the ability to make the right decisions or at the very least a good decision if they work together and support each other.
Then (very importantly) you need to let them know that regardless of the outcome of a decision being a disaster or a success, you will support whatever they decide to do.
This last piece is the real crux of empowerment.
Step 5: Letting Go
Having belief in your people is absolutely vital for success but what’s probably even more crucial is making sure you express that belief to them!
And the only way you can do that is by ensuring you have the right people on your team who believe in you and your business vision and then support their ability to make decisions.
This is important!
If your team is fearful of making a decision because they’re afraid you’re going to yell at them or it may be different to what you would do, they will never make a decision, and hence they can’t take over.
If your business has amazing systems and processes, that enables your people to make decisions, and believe in themselves then you can confidently let go.
For any entrepreneur, running and managing a business is like raising a child. It’s never easy to take a step away from the thick of things and let other people take over. And it’s perfectly understandable to feel hesitant to take any breaks at all, but to be able to have some sort of work-life balance and keep your wits about you, you will need to take that time off one way or another.
It may seem impossible, but you CAN take that much needed break from your business with the steps outlined above. It all boils down to having the right processes in place and trusting your team to take the reins when you do let go.
And think of it this way, once you successfully pull it off, you’ll be able to master how to run a business without doing it yourself!