Summer is here, and although it may seem strange, now may be the perfect time to increase the value of your company.
The most valuable businesses are those that can survive without their owner. Buyers will pay a premium for a company that runs on autopilot, and they will levy a steep discount for a business that is dependent on its owner.
This summer, consider taking an extended break from your business to see how things run when you’re not in the building. It’s likely that some things will go wrong, but you can use those errors as the raw material for making your business operate more independently of you—and therefore more valuable.
Here is a six-step plan for profiting from your vacation time this summer:
1. Schedule Your Vacation Plus One Day
Whatever day you plan to start working again after your holiday, tell your staff you’ll be back one day later. That way, you’ll have a full day of uninterrupted time to dedicate to understanding what went wrong in your absence.
2. Bucket the Mistakes
When you return from vacation, make a summary of the things that went wrong and categorize them into one of three buckets:
- Mistakes—errors where there is a right and wrong answer.
- Bottlenecks—projects that had difficulties because you weren’t there to provide your feedback.
- Stalled projects—initiatives that went nowhere while you were gone because you’re the person leading them.
3. Correct the Mistakes
The first and easiest place to start is to simply correct mistakes that were made in your absence. Mistakes usually result from a lack of training rather than negligence. The right answer may be crystal clear in your head but not immediately obvious to your staff, so the correction may be as simple as putting instructions in writing for the next time you’re out and employees fill in for you.
Instructions should be clear, so run them past key staff to make sure they’re easy to follow before sharing them with everyone on your team. A file-sharing service like Google Drive or DropBox can be a helpful place to store instructions so everyone can easily access them.
4. Unblock the Bottlenecks
If you’re being asked for your personal input on projects, there’s probably going to be a bottleneck if you’re not around. Make sure your staff is clear on the projects where you need to have a say and the projects where you don’t.
5. Reassign Stalled Projects
The toughest part of making your business less dependent on you is dealing with projects that get stalled when you’re away. Start by asking yourself if you’re the right person to lead the project in the first place.
Projects often fall into your lap by default because you own the business, not because you’re the best person to lead them. Categorize stalled projects into two groups:
- Strategic projects you need to lead.
- Non- strategic projects you are leading by default.
Keep the strategic projects and delegate the non-strategic projects to someone on your team who is best-suited to drive them forward.
6. Give Every Employee a Blank Check
At Ritz-Carlton Hotels, every employee has the discretion to spend—without approval from their general manager—up to $2,000 on a guest. The $2,000 figure is a large enough number to make the message clear: front-line employees should act first, make the customer happy, and ask questions later.
Many employees know how to make a customer happy but lack the confidence to act. Giving employees some spending authority will speed up the resolution of customer issues and empower your team to do the right thing when you’re not there.
The sunshine is beckoning, so go ahead and take a vacation—if you follow the six steps here, you may end up with a great and a more valuable company.
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