Stepping back from running your business frees you up to improve it
Many business leaders get bogged down with running their business. While it might have been essential in the early days, as your business grows day-to-day duties become an increasingly unproductive use of time.
By setting your business up to run without your constant input, you are free to work on improving it.
Get the right people and processes in place
Alison King, managing director of Bespoke HR, founded her business as a sole trader in 2005. After one year, she realised it was inefficient and expensive to do everything and began to step back from the day-to-day running of the outsourced HR consultancy.
While the process hasn’t always been easy, Alison now spends around 60 per cent of her time working on, rather than in, her business. This frees her up to focus on goals and strategy to grow and improve the company.
For Alison, the first step towards stepping out of running the business is getting the right people and processes in place.
“You can’t step away until you’ve got the right team around you. It’s absolutely key. You also need the right processes in place. People glaze over when you say processes, but it is just about implementing systems that employees know work and can do so when you're not there. You need to set it up so the cogs keep turning without you needing to turn them,” Alison said.
Delegation is essential to stepping back. However, in order for this to work you need to be unafraid of tough conversations.
“Delegating and finding the right people is essential. But when it’s not working, leaders need to deal with it. Whether that’s training, coaching, development, or ultimately considering whether you have the wrong cog,” Alison added.
“While it’s important for me to step back and grow the business, I’m still available and ready to roll my sleeves up and get back to the day-to-day operations if I need to. It’s about communication and stepping back in when required."
Alison King, MD, Bespoke HR
Communicate effectively with staff and customers
Communication has played a big role enabling Alison to step back from the day-to-day running of her business – both with her team and clients.
“When you have single-handedly grown the business, you are intrinsic and it can be difficult to step back on a personal level. But it’s also hard on your customers and team who are used to you being there all the time. It’s about communicating that you are not stepping away because you don’t care or you've lost the passion, but you’re actively doing it for the greater good,” Alison said.
Communicating new strategies, company direction and goals to your team is essential. Introducing clients personally to team members who are taking over their accounts helps to reassure them. But, for both clients and your team, it’s about communicating that you are always on hand if needs be.
“While it’s important for me to step back and grow the business, I’m still available and ready to roll my sleeves up and get back to the day-to-day operations if I need to. It’s about communication and stepping back in when required.
“I’ve known business leaders who have stepped back from the day-to-day running but are reluctant to step back in when needed. This can cause resentment and confusion, particularly if leaders don’t communicate the strategy well. The team is not getting any benefit. They are not getting the strategy or direction, all they see is a business leader who used to be there but isn’t anymore.”
Stepping back from day-to-day running has not been an overnight process for Alison and she recommends business leaders make a gradual transition so your team and customers feel reassured.
location: South East (England)
business size: 10-49 People
business type: Professional services, finance & banking
Top three takeaways
Getting the right people in place and implementing processes that work without your oversight is the first step to getting out of the day-to-day running of your business.
It’s important that staff understand that you haven’t lost interest in the business but are concentrating on growth. Communicate what you've been working on regularly.
It’s all well and good focusing on the bigger picture. But in times of crisis or when the team needs you, be prepared to step back into the day-to-day tasks.