MICHAEL Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, coined the phrase “working on the business, not in the business”.
Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, codified the wealth-building strategies of 5 per cent of the world’s population through his cashflow quadrant model.
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, encouraged people to take a different approach to work.
Each of these strategies offers an essential message for achieving success in business and in life. They each suggest balance, systems, working within one’s strengths and outsourcing less important tasks.
Although these “how to” strategies are important, the most compelling advantage in these strategies is the mindset of “who” a person must “be” in order to build a business that works without him.
A business that works without you is one where systems and teams replace the owner.
Systems support the team, the team supports your customers, the customers support the business, and the business supports you.
In 2001, I co-founded a business incubator, a social entrepreneurial endeavour in the rural Texas Panhandle region, to serve start-up and early-stage growth entrepreneurs.
Three years later, I started Chop Chop Japanese Steakhouse, a fast-casual teppanyaki restaurant.
Then in 2011, I started Destination Coaching & Training, which focuses on developing entrepreneurs and those who support entrepreneurs.
Each of these businesses is growing and thriving with team members in place that run each business effectively.
If I go on vacation for a month and make no contact with my team members during that time, I am confident that each business would be as strong as or stronger than when I left.
Who you must be
To have a business that works without you, “how” each of you gets there might be a different approach.
But here are a few suggestions for the mindset of “who” you must “be” to build a business that works without you:
1 Be a visionary leader
Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Your team expects you to set the vision and to lead them. Leadership supplies the support and tools necessary to accomplish the vision.
As a leader, your activities and roles change from doing things to thinking, encouraging and supporting others.
2 Be systems-oriented
Business coach Brad Sugars, in his ActionCoach model, suggests that business owners systemise the routine and humanise the exceptions.
What that means is that you must create documented systems for routine business processes. Those systems add value and opportunity for growth beyond the owner.
3 Be willing to hire talented people
Adopt the mindset that you will hire talented people with strengths and expertise that help you build your business.
Then, trust them to do their jobs. Fear of being undermined or losing control will keep you saddled to working in your business.
4 Be transparent
Small businesses experience many ups and downs, and giving responsibility to team members is often difficult for the owner.
Your team is committed, but not nearly as much as you.
Frequent, accurate, specific, timely (FAST) feedback and open communication can lessen the volatility and build trust among your team.
5 Be balanced
The personal foundation and support system of an entrepreneur is critical to success.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others who depend on you.
6 Be flexible
It seems that change is the only thing that is constant in a growing business. Making the transition from owner/doer to owner/leader/chief executive officer requires flexibility.
If a founder is to make this transition successfully, he must have a culture that is flexible and ready to accept change as a normal part of business growth.
As you bring in new people, they bring with them new ideas and a changing culture.
Adopting a mindset of flexibility and openness to new ideas is healthy and necessary. You can determine the best strategy, but if the culture is not one of flexibility, one small change can be disastrous.
7 Be patient
Building anything of value takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Long-term business success is a result of the relentless pursuit of doing simple things well, and repeatedly.
It works for you
The process of building a business that works without you is a mindshift that results in a change of behaviour. This shift will take time and intention, but the reward is worth it — a business that works for you.
What are some areas you need to stop “doing” and start “being”?
It is my hope that you consider “who” you are and “who” you need to be for your business to work without you.