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How to Step Back from Your Business

Do you want to take a step back from running your business? Here, we explore how you can achieve more freedom by trusting your teams.

As a business owner, it's natural to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for the success of your company. However, if you've reached a point where you want to take a step back from your business, it can be challenging to let go, especially if you feel indispensable. 

Even if it’s difficult to think about leaving right now, imagine if you became unavailable to your employees due to illness or having to take care of family matters. What would happen to your business? What would happen to your employees? 

If you actually care about your employees and their well-being, you want to ensure what you’ve built continues to flourish and grow beyond your eventual retirement. 

At MacklinConnection, we have helped business owners build teams they can trust. Through creating teams that can work autonomously, we’ve seen business owners create lives for themselves beyond just running their companies. Even the most type-A workaholics have been able to hand over the reins to their employees and shift their focus to other sources of enjoyment - like travel, spending time with loved ones, and learning new crafts.

If any of this sounds appealing, continue on to examine how to succeed if you’re seeking to transition from a prominent role within your company without sacrificing its continued success. Even if it might feel like you’ll never be able to step back, there are ways you can begin to build more autonomy for yourself.

Recognizing the Indispensable Business Owner Syndrome

Before you can successfully take a step back or sell your business, it's crucial to understand why you may feel indispensable. Business owners often become so involved in their company's operations that they struggle to imagine it functioning without their direct involvement. Let’s call this the "Indispensable Business Owner Syndrome." Recognizing this mindset is the first step toward overcoming it and ensuring a smooth transition for your business. 

This might look like:

  • Micro-managing
  • Feeling like no one else does anything “right”
  • Not wanting to delegate
  • Working through the weekend
  • Failing to hire additional support
  • Not having other interests outside of work
  • Not knowing what to do with your time other than work

If you are over involved in every aspect of your business, it’s natural that you think nothing can function without you. And if you haven’t created a life for yourself outside of running your company, your business might occupy all of your time and energy. Of course you can't imagine not taking care of everything that pops up - you haven’t experienced anything else yet. 

Overcoming the Fear of Stepping Back or Selling Your Business

It's common for business owners to fear that your company's success will suffer without your direct involvement. However, it's essential to remember that a well-run business should be able to thrive independently. Even if retirement or taking a step back isn’t on your radar right now, you should not be the only person who can be trusted to take care of your business. 

Should anything happen to you, your employees need to be able to be trusted to ensure the business continues to succeed. Making changes can be scary, but, with some practice, you’ll notice the people around you are capable of taking more responsibility. 

Here are our top 3 tips for overcoming the fear of stepping back from running your business and allowing your team to take over:

  1. Believe in your team. The first step in reducing your involvement with your business is to believe in the people you have working for and with you. Part of this involves knowing that they will mess up - and this is ok. 
  2. Stop giving people answers. If you are entangled in all aspects of your business, you probably have people constantly coming to you asking you what to do. Moving forward in creating more autonomous teams means you quit giving people directions. If someone comes to you and asks what to do about a situation, instead of giving them an answer, ask them what they think they should do. 
  3. Find something else to do. If you don't have something else to occupy your time outside of your business, it’s going to be difficult to actually step away. Not sure what to do? Plant a garden, travel, spend time with your friends, get out into your community. To succeed at releasing your grip on your business, you have to have something to do. If you don't, you'll sit around and worry and try to get entangled in the business again.

Growing Your Business's Independence and Reducing Reliance

Reducing your company's reliance on you as the owner is crucial for a successful transition. As you begin to believe in your employees and give them more and more responsibility, here are more practices you can start to adopt to encourage greater independence amongst your employees.

If you are intertwined into every aspect of your company, ceasing oversight on operations might feel like an absolute “no” to you. But it is crucial if you actually want your team to be able to function without you. Resist the urge to jump in immediately when someone comes to you. Tell them you trust them to know how to handle it. It might be scary at first (for you and them), but this will help empower your employees in the long run to be able to trust their own decision making and leadership skills. 

Support them throughout this process by encouraging them and letting them know you trust and believe in them to figure things out without you. You don’t need to teach anyone how to do each thing. You can allow your employees to create for themselves. If you tell them how to manage something exactly as you did, it is almost guaranteed that they will come back to you when there is a problem. But if you allow them to develop their own process, they become their own source of guidance. 

Encouraging collaboration amongst your employees will also be a major asset in allowing you to step away from everyday operations. Fostering a culture of teamwork and open communication helps your team to work together effectively and solve problems together - without needing your approval every step of the way. When you empower your teams to take more responsibility and show you trust them, they will feel more confident in running the business without you there.

Finding More Autonomy from Running Your Company

While it's natural for business owners to feel indispensable, it's crucial to recognize that your company's long-term success depends on its ability to function independently. By fostering a strong leadership team, developing a succession plan, and implementing strategies to reduce reliance on you as the owner, you can ensure a smooth transition while stepping back from your business. 

You deserve to enjoy the life you have worked so hard to create for yourself. Even if it might feel impossible to step back from running your business, by believing in your employees, you can regain more freedom for yourself. Seeking support throughout this process can also help you navigate the challenges of stepping back and ultimately achieve the outcome you desire. 

If you would like to learn more about how our executive coaches can help you become more autonomous from your business and create a life you love, schedule a consultation with us.