New Years Business Resolution #4
As entrepreneurs, we often think of our businesses as our children. But as parents, we quickly figure out that our children don’t belong to us – our role is to prepare them to become more and more independent of us, from the moment they are born.
In the same way, part of our role as entrepreneurs is to work toward the day that our businesses can thrive, independent of us – so they can take care of us in our retirement – and they can go on to achieve things in future generations that we couldn’t even imagine.
A business that is babied might grow, but it will not mature into its fullest potential.
Maturity requires self-awareness. That is why the primary role of the business leader is to be the torch bearer of the purpose of the business; and to establish and maintain the values that guide decision-making. Like a person, a business that is self-aware has a solid understanding of their unique talents and how to put them into service. They have a realistic idea of their strengths and weaknesses, they have stronger decision-making skills and better coping mechanisms.
The business owner who hoards decisions, reluctant to share their control, their knowledge or their perspective is babying the business. The entrepreneur who underestimates the capacity for learning and expansion, so fears overreaching, is babying their business. The helicopter-style owner, who creates the illusion of space to grow, but hovers over everyone, nervously wringing their hands, is babying their business.
Shaping the business into a healthy adult requires that we understand the changing environment our businesses are in, and as honestly as we can, assess and reassess our business’s maturity level and its capacity to make decisions in its own self interest, with integrity.
It requires that we use the challenges of the day to teach and reinforce the values and principles that can carry the purpose forward over time.
So here are a few ways we can start to stop babying our businesses:
1 Find ways to stretch, safely. Dedicate some time, some talent, some budget to exploring new potentials. Limit your investment to a bet that you can afford to lose, but within that context roll the dice. It will invigorate people and it might pay off well.
2 Hire, promote and educate toward the future. Identify the critical skills and knowledge you bring and start seeding these in people around you.
3 Consciously work toward doing less of your least valuable work. Identify what you do that someone else can and start giving it away.
4 Use all your newly freed up time to carry that torch – more leading, guiding and mentoring – less doing.
When we stop babying our businesses, when we can trust that there are aspects that don’t require our daily input, and we can start planning for the day that our businesses start looking after us.