Do you have time to do things you want to do outside of your business? Or, said another way, do you feel you have good “balance” in your life? Obviously, there are times when business activity is high and things can get a little hectic, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Over the long term, are you so consumed by your business that you don’t have time for other things that are important to you?
If the answer is “yes,” you almost certainly have a problem delegating authority to others. Small business owners tend to keep all the important levers and buttons of the business under their own control. In most cases, they simply don’t trust anyone else to handle those critical functions. Yet if the owner continues to hoard all the important stuff for him or herself, there are usually some negative consequences.
One such consequence is a drain of talent from the business. People want to work where they can learn, grow, and get increasing amounts of responsibility. If they believe they are not getting that at your company, they’ll go somewhere else.
Another consequence is owner frustration. The owner has rigged the game so that nothing of importance gets done without his or her fingerprints all over it. So s/he can never get away from work for any length of time without everything coming to a grinding halt.
The growth of the business is stifled. If the owner tries to do everything, the business stalls when it reaches his or her personal limit. There are only so many hours in a day and only so much one person can do, right?
But failing to delegate ultimately damages the value of the business. For most small business owners, the exit strategy at retirement time is to sell the business. Even though the business may be profitable, a would-be buyer will look very closely at how well the business will operate when the former owner is gone. If the buyer decides the old owner is the business . . . that he holds all the key relationships with customers and vendors, and that he is the “go to guy” for operational issues . . . the buyer will be unlikely to pay much for the business because, after all, with the old owner out of the equation, there really isn’t much of a business left. On the other hand, if the place runs like a top whether the old owner is there or not, the business will command a premium price.
So if you are in this predicament, the only way out is to begin grooming others to take on important roles of authority and leadership. If you don’t have them, find them. Bring them on board. You’ll be happier, your people will be happier, the business will operate more smoothly, and it will have greater value. What’s not to like about that?