April 5, 2016

by Preston True

Let it Go - Kid with Hands out.jpg

For any of us who are parents, the process of “letting go” of our children can be one of the most difficult experiences with which to deal. We’ve birthed them, we’ve fed them, we’ve clothed them, we’ve gotten furious with them, we’ve had compassion for them, we’ve held them in our arms when things got scary or confusing, and celebrated many a success with them. We’ve made an enormous investment of our time, our effort, and our hearts.

But at some point, we have to let them go. They are ready to face the world without us; to create experiences, success, and resolve issues on their own.

As well intended as it might be, if we hold on too long or too tight, they won’t grow.

Letting Go of Your Business

As a business owner, is letting go of your business any less challenging? For many of us, it might be even more challenging than letting go of our children. We’ve birthed it, we’ve fed it, we’ve clothed it, we’ve gotten furious with it, we’ve had compassion for it, we’ve held it in our arms when things got scary or confusing, and we’ve celebrated many successes with it.

But, like our children, we all get to the point at which it’s time to let go.

How to Let Go of Your Business

For entrepreneurial leadership teams and business owners, there’s no magic pill or simple answer to make letting go a five-minute task. However, there are several considerations that can help smooth that transition:

  1. Make your Accountability Chart crystal clear – The Accountability Chart is the functional blueprint of your company that articulates the required “seats” for future growth. It not only clarifies roles & responsibilities, but it’s one of the best career development road maps you could provide your employees
  2. Document Process so you don’t have to be around – if you don’t teach, coach, and support others in owning processes, you’ll forever be prisoner to your business. Document your 6-10 core processes (HR, sales, marketing, finance, operations, etc) so you don’t have to be the ONE to manage it all.
  3. Ensure your Owner’s seat is clearly defined – I see one of the greatest challenges for an owner in letting go is that s/he doesn’t have clear roles & responsibilities; if we feel like we’re not needed, we’ll hold on even tighter. Consider some of the following for an “owners seat”:
  • Business continuity: succession planning, annual review of company
  • Governance: creating a board of directors or advisory board for company, participating in long-range guidance
  • Owner(s) goal setting: defining and establishing return on assets/equity plans
  • Capital expenditures/investments: planning and executing on major purchases or investments

Consider investing the next 1-2 years in developing each of the above. Not that you’ll be fully letting go in that time, but when you do, you’ll have created an organization that’s clear on your role, clear on its role, and ready to support a healthy transition.

This article first appeared on the EOS Worldwide Blog on March 31st, 2016.

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