Starting a business requires a combination of resources, skills, and guts. Above all, though, it typically calls for the founder to be hands-on.
To some entrepreneurs, the businesses they launch are almost like their children. They guide them from concept onwards to successful, sustainable operations. Those ventures aren’t just a job or revenue stream but a way for the founder to pour their efforts into something they’re passionate about.
Why would you ever want to become less involved in that scenario?
Many employees would do well to dial down their working hours and focus more on things that matter. And you could make a similar case for many entrepreneurs to step back, gradually making their operations less centralized.
There are many reasons why someone might be spurred to start a business. Entrepreneurs aren’t all cut from the same cloth. But on some level, they are all motivated by a belief in their vision.
It could be the unique product or service they’re offering or the opportunity to run things their way and be the boss. Maybe they pursue higher income than what employment might offer. Or they could genuinely be after the fulfillment that comes with serving people’s needs.
The thing is, motivations can and do change over time.
At some point, you might find that investing more time and energy into something you’ve always been passionate about no longer yields the same ROI. That could be measured in terms of money, happiness, or a sense of meaning.
Maybe the game has changed without your noticing it. The business evolves, and so does your role in its affairs. Its level of performance or degree of complexity could affect how you feel about maintaining an active hand in its operations. Or maybe events in your personal life have caused a shift in your priorities.
There’s always an occasion to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and whether what you’ve been doing so far is still your vision for your own future.
If being an entrepreneur has given you career success, financial stability, and a chance to lead a life with purpose, it might be time to pivot. Do what Tim Ferriss advises in The 4-Hour Workweek: rework your lifestyle to prioritize time, experiences, and travel. That could mean taking a step back and perhaps even preparing your exit strategy.
Moving to decentralize
However, the decision to be less involved doesn’t always come down to personal reasons. Sometimes, it really is the action that makes the most sense from a business standpoint.
The disruption wrought recently by the pandemic upon countless organizations has exposed the need for change on a structural level. Leaders have, often belatedly, realized that they bear too much responsibility when it comes to decision-making.
Businesses can expect to face further shocks and disruptions in the future, and they will have to respond with quickness of thought and action to survive. For many organizations, that means the future is trending towards decentralization.
Your relationship with the business you’ve founded may have always put you firmly in the driver’s seat. But the world is changing quickly, and it might be time to cede control.
This doesn’t have to be a complete transfer of leadership. Instead, people at every level of the organization should be empowered to act independently and make certain business decisions. A hierarchy can continue to exist, but overall, the structure becomes flatter and more agile in application.
Less is more
Thus, for even the most hands-on entrepreneurs, taking a step back can make sense on many levels. But it’s not something to be done abruptly.
Some tasks can be handed over to third parties. Consulting with accountants not only relieves you of the burden of preparing tax returns and reviewing financial statements, but it can also be useful in the restructuring process. Always look for ways not only to delegate but add value.
Identify key employees in your organization who can take on greater responsibility and step into a leadership role. Make sure that they are fully engaged and have a stake in the outcome. You may also want to give each one a chance to walk in your shoes and start thinking like a business owner, which will help their future decision-making.
With each day, continue to reflect on what you truly want to do and which tasks in your business actually gain value from your direct involvement. If you’re not required, step back and allow someone else to handle it and grow into the role. Eventually, you’ll have a decentralized business that can mostly run without you.