As business owners, we put a lot of time into building and maintaining the business to achieve great outcomes for our clients, our team and for us. The outcomes are different for each group however the aim is to create value.
For the business owner, the main value consideration is the ongoing profitability and the ultimate sale price of the business. A key measure of the value upon sale is when a buyer is willing to pay more for a business that can operate without you, the business owner.
With my regular business mentoring sessions with clients I often encourage the business owner to schedule in a holiday. The break away not only provides the opportunity to recharge the batteries but also enables you to see how well the business will function without you.
Following are six ways you can maximise the value from taking a holiday:
Step 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 or right in your absence.
Step 2: Categorize the outcomes
When you return, make a summary of the things that went wrong and categorize them into one of three:
- 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.
Step 3: Correct the mistakes
The first and easiest place to start is simply correct the mistakes that were made. Usually mistakes are due to a lack of training rather than outright negligence. The right answer may be crystal clear in your head but not immediately obvious to your staff. Write up some instructions for next time the employees face the same situation. Make sure your instructions are clear, and share them with your team so everyone has them. There are many applications that can assist with documenting and building instructions for examples Screensteps or Camtasia (which both provide screen captures and video capabilities).
Step 4: Unblock your 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 colleagues are clear on the projects where you need to have a say and the projects where you don't. Some employees may wrongly think that you need to approve all decisions. Make it clear when you want them to act alone and when you still need to have your say.
Step 5: Re-assign stalled projects
The hardest 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. As the owner of your business, projects often fall in your lap by default, rather than because you're the best person to lead them. Categorize your stalled projects into two groups: a) strategic projects you need to lead; and b) non-strategic projects you are leading by default. Hold on to the strategic projects, but delegate the non-strategic projects to someone on your team who is better suited to drive them forward.
Step 6: Empower every employee to make improvements
One way to employee your team that takes pressure off the business owner is to allow them to build stronger relationships with key customer/clients/suppliers. You may not be able to do what the Ritz Carlton Hotels do in empowering their staff, whereby they give every employee discretion to spend up to $2,000 on a guest. However, if part of your values is to make your customer/clients happy (which should be a value of every business) then some form of empowerment to your team will give your staff confidence to act. Giving employees an allowance to take key clients to lunch or send them a small gift where it comes from them rather than you will assist in building the key relationship with clients and take the reliance away from you in building client relationships.
There is a seventh value (yes I can count), and that is the immeasurable memories you will create by having fun and enjoying your life away from the business. Take action and go catch some sunshine - you deserve it!