Seasons of Change…How Are You Transitioning to Grow Your Business?
It is always hard to let go of the things that matter most. We often lack the outsider’s view that provides clarity, whether this involves letting go of something in our personal or professional lives. We become clouded by our sense of ownership – unable to see the situation from a balanced perspective. Letting go is never easy, but it is essential. The circle of life requires it. We must let go of our children in order to give them an opportunity to grow; similarly, we must be willing to let go of aspects of our business for it to flourish. Doing so will stretch others, create sustainability and maximize business value.
If you find yourself stuck, consider changing how you “do business”. Perhaps the model you developed, the one with you at the center, needs to be adjusted. Not just a tweak here or a turn there, but a full release of some aspects that can create transferable value for your business. Consider the following quote:
“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”
Giving up some tasks and responsibilities sounds like a big risk to any business owner, but the reality is that keeping them amounts to keeping the keys to the castle, and in doing so, limits the organization’s ability to grow. If making this type of change seems overwhelming, consider focusing on a few key areas that provide the biggest returns: leadership, structure and process. Taking even a few steps in this direction will put you and the business in a better position.
How are you leading the business? Are you directing the day-to-day activities or are you leveraging the leadership team for that? While the questions may seem elementary, they do require an honest gut check. If you, as the owner, are still calling the shots, solving the day-to-day problems, and jumping in to save the day - despite having a competent leadership team – then you need to give some serious thought to why that is happening. What is the personal pay-off for leading that way? Because until you can release yourself from the day-to-day, you are limiting the organization’s ability to grow. Your role is not being in the minutia, but rather, rising above it to lead strategically to look for new opportunities to grow and remain relevant in an environment that is changing at lightening speed. If you have the right people on the leadership team, you can trust them to run the day-to-day. Not only does it make your business sustainable, but it grows the value of it because the business is not dependent on just you.
Do you have the right organizational structure in place? From the leadership team to the line workers, does the structure support the current business environment and will it support growth? Additionally, do you have the “right” people in the “right” positions, which is a short way of asking if the skill sets, aptitudes and interests of the individuals match the role they currently occupy? If the answer is “no” for any of these questions, consider either finding a better positional match or make a decision about that individual’s long-term employment with you. While it may be painful to make these types of changes in the short-term, it is essential to becoming more efficient, faster and better able to proactively meet market needs.
Finally, if the business has operated through hands-on training and knowledge gained over the years, it is time to consider a more sustainable approach. Documenting processes and procedures, which sounds simplistic and boring, is critical to creating a repeatable, sustainable business. Instead of relying on an individual knowledge base, processes capture the knowledge and allow it to be easily transferred to another individual. Doing so provides for easy on-boarding, smoother cross-training, and ultimately builds a better organization – one that is not dependent on you or a few individuals who know everything about the business. In short, it creates a sustainable model that grows the value of your business. If you have not invested the time or prioritized this work, now is your opportunity to start. Create a format, set a due date, identify process creation owners and move this forward so by the end-of-the-year, this is complete and the processes are firmly in place.
The key to all of this is letting go - not letting go of the visionary or strategic aspects – but letting go of the minutia and trusting the teams around you to support those aspects of the business. With the right leadership, structure and processes in place, you can let go with peace of mind, knowing that the team has it covered. Not only is this liberating for you as the owner, but it also grows the value of your business so that even without you, the business will succeed. Now that is the best peace of mind you can get!
“You will not get what you truly deserve if you’re too attached to the things you’re supposed to let go of.”
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay