If you aspire to build a valuable company, one crucial factor is to ensure your business can operate independently without your constant involvement. Embarking on this journey can feel daunting. Here are three cost-effective, simple strategies to set your business on a path that will allow it to thrive without your constant presence.
Replace Yourself by Niching Down
The reason most owners can’t replace themselves is that a substitute would be too expensive. Trying to replace your breadth of experience would likely require a very high-salaried employee. If you can’t afford to replace all of what you do, niche down your core offering.
For example, Casey Cavell’s baseball business, D-Bat Academy, could have catered to a broad range of players: professionals, softball players, slow-pitch beer leaguers, fast-pitch. Instead, he got specific about who his business was for: 5- to 10-year-old kids.
Cavell could have charged more per customer if he catered to college athletes and aspiring pros—but those elite athletes would expect to get a hitting coach with years of expertise, and he would have had to staff for that.
With a business where one of the primary objectives is to give an 8-year-old an awesome birthday party, an entry-level employee can deliver.
By narrowing down your offering, you can bypass the high salary that comes with someone with a wide breadth of experience and still meet customer expectations.
Create a Question Diary
When Jodie Cook was building her social media agency, she made a conscious choice every time an employee came to ask her a question.
The easy thing to do would have been to answer the question, but she forced herself to write each one down, then turned her question diary into a business manual that documented how to do every single task required of her employees.
Her manual came in the form of an Excel spreadsheet with 50 tabs, each one documenting a specific process, like payroll.
Challenge yourself to do the same. When an employee asks you a question, resist the urge to answer and move on. Document each query, and use them to create an SOP—standard operating procedure—that enables your staff to develop expertise in their role. The go-to reference then becomes the SOP manual, instead of you.
List Your Employees Alphabetically on Your Site
Most companies list their employees by seniority, with the owner and CEO as the top listing. However, this communicates that you are the most important person in your company, which will trigger everyone from salespeople to suppliers and prospective partners to want to go straight to the top by calling you.
An effective strategy to downplaying your role in your company (and getting others to step up and shoulder more) is to list employees alphabetically rather than by seniority on your company’s website. This approach can minimize the spotlight on you.
Additionally, using titles like “Head of Culture” and “Head of Product” instead of “CEO” or “Owner” can further obscure your seniority, making it less likely customers will call you by default.
Getting your business to thrive without you gives you the freedom to pick the projects you want to work on or to just own your business and collect passive income.
A business that runs without you is also a valuable, sellable asset if you ever choose to move on to a new chapter in your life. Niching down, creating SOPs, and downplaying your role on your website are all tactical things you can do today to get your business running more independently in the future.
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