Are you growing your business as if it’s your baby or as if it’s your pet?
A baby will initially be very dependent on it’s parents. You’ll have to do practically everything for it. As time goes on you’ll have it potty trained and teach it how to put it’s clothes on. The child will start walking, feeding itself, learning a load of other skills, and eventually it will grow to a point of complete independence.
A pet on the other hand starts out dependent on the owner and remains so. For instance, if you have a dog you will have to take it for a walk even as it grows. You will always have to take it for a walk, even if can train it to get its own lead. Even if you could train it to walk itself you would not want to let it do so. There are too many things out there it could fall foul of. It could get lost, it could get run over, it could even be abducted. You just wouldn’t trust it to look after itself sufficiently, so the obligation of walking the dog remains.
So are you growing your business like a baby or like a pet?
Grow to Independence
You should be growing your business to a point of independence. Initially you may well start off doing practically everything, but eventually you identify the things you don’t want to do, you don’t need to do, or that you are not suited to do. For example, after a while you might hand the bookkeeping over to someone else. Eventually you will stop answering the phone all the time, stop building websites, and stop creating graphics, unless this is particularly where your talents lie.
To take a baby to independence you need to teach it and encourage progress. To take a business to independence you need to develop systems. Systems explain how things are done in your business and are clear enough to be handed over to other people to follow. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you will have a system to create systems, and again you can hand these to your employees. At this point the business could start growing without you.
An entrepreneur is someone who can build a business from nothing, add systems and people and eventually have a business that will live beyond them. This could mean being able to step back and concentrate on other things, or it could mean literally having the business continue beyond and after you.
Most businesses don’t last longer than their founder’s lifetime, but there are some examples. The Times of London was founded in 1788 and The New York Times in 1851. Both are still going strong. Levi Strauss was founded in 1853 and has also managed to thrive long after its founder has passed on.
The point is you should be building a business so that you can be replaced. As it becomes more independent of you, you can free yourself up to do other things, even if that’s just to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour. So, are you growing your business like a baby or are you growing it as if it’s a pet?