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What’s standing in the way of your business performing even better in 2019? For many entrepreneurs, the answer is staring them in the face – at least when they’re looking in the mirror. All too often, successful small and medium-sized enterprise owners hit a roadblock: they get their businesses to a size where it is no longer possible to run the show alone, but they feel very uncomfortable about giving up any control of something they’ve built from scratch.
If that sounds like your business, don’t stick your head in the hand. In too many fast-growing businesses, it is the founder who becomes the bottleneck that slows progress down. Any single person, however driven, only has so much capacity. Also, as the business scales up, it will need more specialist skills; founders are often self-taught jack-of-all trades, and no single individual will possess expertise in every area.
How, then to make the transition? How do you relinquish some responsibility while staying in control of the direction of the business? The first step is to admit there is a problem. Smart founders recognise they can still lead the business while delegating functional roles to talented people who may actually add more value.
Having made that shift, think about both what you and the business need next. The founder’s role may change as the business scales up, depending where their talents lie and what they most enjoy doing. Equally, the talent you need to recruit will vary from business to business: it might be a finance professional or a marketing specialist, a sales director or a product developer.
It can be difficult for founders who haven’t been through this process to know where to start – either to envision a more structured approach to managing the business, or to hire people into that structure. Even if you have, all founders will benefit from the support of a broader network of experienced business builders.
That support may be more or less formal. Peers in business networks and business mentors can provide valuable counsel; some founders may choose to bring in a chairman who has done what they are now trying to achieve; investors may also be able to offer advice or make important introductions. Leverage the support that works best for you.
Hiring new talent doesn’t have to mean taking a back seat. Successful delegation means working out exactly what you want someone to do, setting them clear targets, and then monitoring performance to ensure the business’s objectives are being achieved. Initially, you may be hiring people who will report to you directly; over time, as the business continues to grow, they will develop their own teams. But stay focused on accountability, with performance management processes throughout the business that provide people with an opportunity to take responsibility while ensuring they are continuing to move the business forward.
Maintaining visibility will require more structure as the business gets bigger and bigger. It’s crucial that founders retain a clear understanding of where their business is succeeding – and where it’s not. Take care not to lose sight of financial and operational performance as the business grows and you delegate more responsibility.
Get this right and your business stands a better chance of flourishing. The best leaders surround themselves with talented people who have the ability to accelerate growth, and set clear objectives for the team that align with their objectives for the business. They’re not afraid to delegate responsibility because they build structures that enable them to retain control, offering more autonomy where performance merits it, but always holding people to account.
December 17, 2018 at 04:29AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs