Sometimes if you want your business to grow - you have to fire yourself


Succession planning is often ignored by many a successful or growing company and one would have to wonder why.

It often gets lumbered in with Corporate Strategy and business plans and is often talked about but sometimes never implemented.

Firstly, let’s have a look at the reasons why the owners of a business should have a good succession planning programme in place.

1. All businesses are only as good as their people, one of the ways of attracting and developing good people is to create opportunity for these individuals within your business.

2. The business environment is constantly changing. A CEO who is an accountant and brilliant at managing costs in a tough competitive market may not be the individual to grow the business when things improve.

3. We can all be hit by a bus and the business should not be overly reliant on one individual.

4. Change managed correctly is a good thing. New people in new roles bring energy and creativity to an organisation.

5. Regardless of whether the goal is to grow the business and then sell it or grow the business to pass on to another generation within the family, the value of the business will be enhanced by a strong, dedicated and skillful workforce.

I remember when I opened my first coffee shop in 1998; there was no management in the company except for me.

I was also totally operations and customer focused - meaning that I was close to every decision which is absolutely vital in the early years. I managed to grow to five shops but realised that my management style, although efficient, was preventing the company growing. I could only physically manage five shops under the system that I was operating.

So I sold the business and merged it with a competitor and dedicated my role to growing the combined business which, 18 years later, has grown beyond my greatest vision.

Developing and growing the business by stepping back from intense operational involvement brings risks and can often be easier said than done.

The first thing to do as a business owner is to provide vision and come up with a plan. I have always found that collaboration with key managers within the business is essential - firstly in identifying the right plan and secondly getting buy-in to implement changes.

The second bit, which can be trickier, is identifying people within and outside the organisation who will be up for taking on more responsibility and have the necessary skills to enable it can grow and letting them get on with it.

You need to trust people to implement the company vision and you need to allow them make mistakes which can often be at your expense both financially and reputationally.

You are doing a good job if you become redundant in your own business and it's growing, profits are increasing and people are being promoted within the organisation.

So business owners out there, try it - set up a system that will keep you fully informed of all key financial and operational issues within the business. Stay close to customers and staff as they are the best source of non-financial management information that you need to maintain a quality operation and grow your business.

Also monitor your own performance and challenge yourself to deliver new opportunities.

I promise you one thing you will never get bored with growing a business.

Good Luck


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