As entrepreneurs, we have a well-deserved reputation of being control freaks. We care so much about our business and our clientele that we would rather run ourselves ragged, handling every part of our business, rather than risk someone else making a mistake in it. In fact, I recently had a client tell me, “Justin, I can handle most things as long as my hands are on the wheel.” I believe that’s a sentiment that most of us can relate to. However, giving up control of your business might be the best thing you could ever do for it. I know it hurts to think about it, but that’s why today’s entry is all about how to relinquish control of your business.
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As I stated in the lede, entrepreneurs would rather work themselves into the ground than run the risk of someone else making a mistake in their business. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ve been there before. As I’ve considered this topic of relinquishing control, my mind kept coming back to one thing. The reason you don’t want to hand an area of your business off to a member of your team is that you don’t fully trust anyone to do the job as well as you.
Trusting someone else—especially someone who doesn’t have a vested interest—to take control of any aspect of your business is a difficult thing for business owners. You’ve poured so much of yourself into your company, doing everything possible to ensure its success that there’s no way anyone could care about it the way that you do. But there are some problems created by this way of thinking.
First, your team will live up or down to the level of expectation you’ve set for them. If they see that you don’t trust them to handle any part of the daily operations, they’re not going to be happy and won’t work to their true potential. Likewise, you will begin to burn out and may even resent the perceived lack of effort from your team. If you relinquish control, you could remedy both of these problems while adding value to your business.
A recent study by Xero revealed that 77 percent of small business owners admit to feeling the effects of burnout sometimes. The data from the survey found that 59 percent of business owners over 50 years old experienced burnout while the burnout rates of their younger counterparts were much higher. For those in the 35 to 50 demographic, burnout rates went all the way to 84% and up to 94% for millennials.
This is one of the reasons that it is so important to relinquish control and delegate. As counterintuitive as it may be, delegation can actually improve productivity and promote positive growth while decreasing your stress level. A Gallup study showed that CEOs who delegate authority grow faster, earn greater revenues, and create jobs faster than those who don’t.
This study surveyed 500 CEOs, identifying 143 of them as “high delegators.” The interesting thing is that those with high delegator talent posted an average three-year growth rate of 1,751 percent. That’s 112 percentage points greater than the CEOs with limited or low delegator talent. Likewise, the CEOs with high delegator talent saw 33% greater revenues. I don’t know about you, but I want to make more money.
But these results weren’t unique to CEOs of the Inc. 500. The same study surveyed 1,446 employer entrepreneurs (business owners who have employees. 33% of the high delegator talents in this group said they planned to significantly grow their businesses, compared to just 21% of those with low delegator talent. So, by delegating authority and seeking to relinquish your business’s control, it could see greater growth and revenues.
When you relinquish control of your business, you’re removing yourself from the epicenter. The business no longer requires you to be present for it to function. Once you’ve achieved this, your business becomes scalable. What does that mean? Well, think of your favorite restaurant or retail chain. It doesn’t matter which location you visit; they’re going to offer the same products, services, and guest experience at each one. They will have systems in place to make sure that things are done the same way each time.
If you go to McDonald’s and order a hamburger, it’s going to come out with two pickles, ketchup, mustard, and onions, every time. Not only are the systems identical across the entire brand, but they can adjust to meet consumer demand by scheduling a few more or a few fewer people. That’s scalability, and it’s only possible when you’ve relinquished control of your business. I mean, how often do you walk into a McDonald’s and see Chris Kempczinski (the president and CEO) ringing up orders or dropping fries into the grease?
The truth is, your company is more efficient if it doesn’t have to flow through a “business owner bottleneck.” An added bonus is that your time is freed up to work on your business rather than in it, potentially helping to accelerate its growth.
As the business owner, you can either control or enable. When we control, we are often not empowering. Enabling a team member to reach their full potential is one of the greatest joys you can have as a business owner. Not only that, but employees respond well to leaders who trust in them, as well.
Katina Sawyer is an associate professor of psychology at Villanova University. She says, “Research suggests that regardless of generation, people want to be connected to something greater at work—a meaning or a purpose that is larger than just a paycheck.” You see, people inherently want to do good work. They want to do something that matters so that they can leave their mark on this world. A good leader provides their people with opportunities to do so.
By delegating authority, you’re not only relinquishing control of your business, but you’re also improving morale. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a win-win to me. I mean, think about it, one simple action can relieve you of stress, expedite growth, increase revenues, improve salability, and empower your team to be the best that they can be. So, how do you begin to relinquish control of your business?
Start by assessing what you do best. Being a great dentist or salesperson doesn’t necessarily mean you’re great at managing the overall operations. Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll know which responsibilities to keep and which ones are best suited for others. If you need help in making this assessment, download our Productivity Worksheet. This helpful resource will make it easy to see where your time and energy belong.
Next, decide which area you’re going to let go of first. I realize that letting go of the reigns is a difficult ask for many of you. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all at once. Once you’ve selected the area you’re giving up, communicate your expectations clearly and require accountability, but leave enough flexibility to test your new person/team. Yes, you might need to hire someone. Before you say, “But Justin, I can’t afford to hire anyone,” think of it as an investment into your business. You’re spending money now to free you up to really work on your business.
Finally, don’t try to give everything up at once. Gradually phase your changes. One of the scariest things about giving up control is worrying that things will get worse. Planning your changes and staging them makes the transition easier to control and leaves less opportunity for major problems.
So, there you have it, friends. I know that the idea of giving up control of your business is scary. Trust me. I know from experience. But the benefit of removing yourself from the center of your business far outweighs that of having your hands on all of the levers. By taking this difficult step, you can avoid burnout and grow your business.
I know life is hard. It’s stressful, and it can kick us in the teeth. But life is good. Relinquishing control of your business is difficult. It requires you to step out into a place that you’re not completely comfortable with. However, once you do, owning your business can, at least, be financially simple.
If you need help relinquishing control so that your business can grow, reach out to us. We work with business owners each and every day, helping them to give up control and prepare their businesses to become a saleable asset.