5 tips for business owners if you want to work ON your business, not IN it

female online seller confirming orders

As a business owner or director, you’ve probably worked for many years to grow your business. You may have enjoyed success and built a solid and sustainable company. But what happens when the time comes for you to think about an exit strategy?

This is the moment when you might realise that you have become a vital cog in the working of the business itself. You’re so vital to the functioning of the business that it might struggle without you.

Making changes now can help you step away from the day-to-day running of the company and allow you to concentrate on more strategic issues. It will also make it easier to sell the business, because it can function without you at its core.

By taking yourself out of the business, you have more time to think about the bigger picture. You can do the extra research you’ve been meaning to do or secure that client deal that you’ve pushed back three times.

But it’s not that easy. Read on for a few ideas on how to begin working ON your business, instead of IN it.

The preparation for transition

There is a lot to prepare in the build up to the transition out of your own business. For example, it may be hard to detach yourself from what feels like your life’s work. Or, taking on a new leadership role may seem daunting.

Learning important skills for such a position is vital. Your skillset must be flexible, from figuring out how best to delegate tasks to learning how to give effective feedback. At the core of it all is deciding how the business can work without you.

Step 1 – Think of the business as a separate entity to you

Having poured countless hours into creating, crafting, and guiding your business towards success, it may be hard to detach it from yourself. You may feel like you are your business, but that idea may only limit its ability to grow. You should no longer be a servant to your business, but its master.

Think about how your company might operate if you weren’t there to supervise. If you realise there are glaring issues, prioritise a way to fix them first. Start to phase yourself out of the business bit by bit and draft a plan for the future.

Step 2 – Learn to delegate effectively

To draft a plan, you need time. To get more time, you need to do reorganise your workload. The main point about working on your business is that you can no longer be responsible for everything. You will need to hire or promote for this move, no matter the size of your company.

Any gaps that arise will need to be filled. Promote your most trusted employees to managerial roles and hire to bolster the ranks. Any jobs that you used to do can always be filled with talented colleagues.

By putting trust in your employees, they will often grow and rise to the challenge. You must be prepared for mistakes to be made, but more on that in step 5.

Alternatively, for odd jobs that take up time and that you only need occasionally, looking for freelancers is always a possibility.

Step 3 – Make the time to draft plans

Saving the time on delegated tasks really adds up and hopefully allows you to start your planning.

Figure out how you want to expand. Strategise and research potential partnerships, deals, or other means to grow your influence. Research where your next branch may be or how to conduct international business.

But don’t fall into the trap of only creating a roadmap for your business. You should have a roadmap for you, too. Where do you want to be in 5, 10, or 20 years? This is where working with a financial planner can add real value.

If you can see yourself powering towards your own goals, be it early retirement or earning a set amount each year, then you know your business is successful.

Having delegated tasks to and promoted your staff members accordingly, you may also be able to begin the process of removing yourself from the day-to-day operation of your business. At this stage, you might start to see some areas that have holes that need to be plugged.

This is also when you should start thinking about creating alternatives for parts of the business that rely on you. This could help you get a little extra time on your hands and help your business run more smoothly in your absence.

Step 4 – Prepare autonomous and repeatable solutions

Maybe you have a plan, but perhaps your business isn’t quite at the stage where you can think about working ON it. Or perhaps you have already taken that step back, but certain elements of the business are taking up too much time?

Focus on the parts of your business that can be run autonomously. Think about training videos, internal computer systems, and streamlined company processes that will save you and your employees’ time.

By preparing these easily repeatable aspects of your business, you can ensure that it will always be running efficiently even without your input.

Step 5 – Be prepared to monitor and give (and receive!) feedback

No business can run without feedback – whether from your customers, your employees, or indeed yourself. Knowing how to both give and receive feedback while also implementing it correctly is the path to continued success for a business.

Internally, you need to be prepared to give constructive, helpful feedback to your managers and employees. If you notice something going awry, this is your opportunity to set it right.

Your business may operate like one, but it isn’t a machine. Humans make mistakes and mistakes help you learn. Your newly appointed managers will get things wrong and it’s up to you to set it right in a calm, constructive manner. Allowing them to develop is key to the development of every employee.

Yet you must also prepare to be on the receiving end, too. Both your customers and managers may come to you with suggestions. Don’t take it personally; take it in stride to better yourself and your business.

Get in touch

If you’re a business owner and want to find out how great financial planning can help you get more from your business, please get in touch. Email or call 01454 416 653.

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