Building a business is exciting stuff. You’re putting something new into the world, helping people to solve a problem and taking control of your own destiny. Come to think of it, creating a business is a lot like raising a baby. In the early days, long hours and hard work are the dues you pay to help your business grow and flourish. There are some really fun and rewarding moments, and others that just plain stink.
And just like with helping children grow, our goal in building a business is to reach a place where we’ve nurtured it into a healthy, productive, and mostly independent entity. Of course you want to stay involved, but on the level of trusted adviser more than day to day caregiver.
But what do you do when you feel like your business can’t run without you? That in order to grow and advance, it takes more and more of your time? It’s easy to start feeling resentful when you reach a level where you thought you would have more freedom, and instead find yourself with less time to do the things you really want to do.
You strive for more freedom to work “on” the business, but instead find that you keep getting sucked further and further into working “in” the business. You’d rather focus on bigger picture, market-facing opportunities, but each time you do execution suffers. You are not alone.
Business growth typically stretches the organizational complexity in three areas, and a business owner can feel a loss of their freedom from one or all of them, depending on which stage the business is in. As a business coach, I typically find the most freedom challenges in the areas of leadership, infrastructure and marketing.
Challenges in Leadership, Infrastructure and Marketing
When the owner of the business is also the central decision maker in too many areas, it creates a culture of dependence that can be hard for the owner to escape. The lack of an empowered and effective decision maker creates a vacuum that sucks the owner into those areas to compensate. I often recommend the book, “The E-Myth Revisited,” by Michael Gerber. Gerber writes about how the business owner (and the leadership team) must grow and evolve throughout the process of building a business for the company to scale through different stages. Have you read it? Send me a message, and let’s discuss!
A lack of proper systems, processes or organizational structure will have a similar effect. If your team doesn’t know how to solve a problem, or whose responsibility it is to provide guidance, you’ll stay in the caregiver role much longer than necessary. Sometimes, companies are using infrastructure that they’ve simply outgrown, drawing the business owner in and hindering smooth growth going forward.
The last area that commonly impacts owner involvement is marketing. Many companies settle into dependence on the owner’s relationships and experience. After all, they’re what got the business to where it is. Until the team learns to go beyond this mindset, the owner is anchored to the business. Even when it isn’t true, it can feel like it is.
Happily, these are all solvable problems. I am a coach who has scaled companies through these sorts of issues. I can help you methodically get your freedom back. You may wonder how you will keep your finger on the pulse of your business while going through this change. Don’t worry, we’ll address that too. We’ll implement proper quarterly and annual planning, scorecards and a healthy communication rhythm. In the end, you’ll have the control and comfort you need and be able to focus on the things you want.