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Are you the one holding your business back?

Posted by January 3, 2013
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Are you stopping your employees building your business? Christopher Jenkins advises when it’s time to let go

How long do you think it takes to get a business from the first idea to fully fledged and sold? 20 years ago, it would probably take about 20 years. But today, it’s closer to 5. Technology has meant that the life cycle of a business from inception to sale has been dramatically shortened.

This generation of entrepreneurs, therefore, have a very different attitude to their forebears. There can of necessity be little loyalty or responsibility to their employees. Emotional attachment is rapidly being relegated to a quaint idea, held only by people who have talked themselves out of the market.

Whether or not that is, the problem of how to extricate yourself as Mr/Mrs Indispensible has not gone away. It is very rare to find an entrepreneur who is capable of starting something from nothing and who can also develop and exploit a well established business. The necessity therefore of realising that, just because you started the business, you may not be the best person to run it, is often a painful process to come to terms with.

For a business to prosper in its secondary growth phase you need to build a strong senior team which can run the business without your constant input. All successful businesses are by definition scaleable and sustainable. If you get in the way, your business will fail on both counts.

Make sure that each of the team know where they stand; do they know where the lines of responsibility start and end, what each of their roles are outside their areas of technical expertise? Who from your management team will step into your shoes when you are ready to exit the business?

Keep the team lean so that decisions can be made quickly and easily and make sure that the reporting lines up and down are clean and clear. For that to happen, delegation is key – if you want the team you have created to succeed, then you have to let them get on with it.

The hardest thing to do is to look on without interfering as they make the mistakes that you used to make. Just as you learned from them so must they do so without your interference. No-one is indispensible and that includes you as well! Make sure that the meetings of the Senior Team are focused on strategy and about decision making, rather than just about you reviewing what they have or have not achieved.

And lastly, make sure that senior management has access to all the financial information that they will need to run the business properly. Just remember that the people you employ are not like you or they would have started up their own businesses, like you did. However they still need to feel ownership in their role.

If you do not share it with them you will not develop the leaders within your organisation who will, in the end, create the sort of business that others will want to buy.

Do you struggle to let go? Tell your business stories here

About the author: Christopher Jenkins is Senior Partner of Ecovis Wingrave Yeats, Business Advisers and Chartered Accountants. They were voted Best Medium Sized Firm of the Year and he was voted Best Business Adviser of the Year by the CBI. Contact him at or go to

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