It never fails, right? Just when you’re about to embark on the trip of a lifetime… Something happens that causes you to question going. Hurdles disguised as crises started to appear. This isn’t a new phenomenon. I have learned over the years that whenever I decide to take an extended vacation away from my businesses, two things will happen. First, right before leaving, something will appear that needs my direct attention. Second, when I return, there will be a butt load of things for me to do when I get back. Many of my friends who are also entrepreneurs use these two things as excuses for not taking vacations from their business. I see it as a challenge to my leadership ability, and I ask myself these questions:
- Can I put my life in perspective enough, that work does not eat at me while I’m gone?
- Do I have the team in place to handle situations without me?
- Do I trust my team enough to delegate responsibility?
The Two Most Important Questions
What I’ve learned is my ability to take vacations and not worry about my business really comes down to a combination of the last two questions: Do I have the team in place, and do I trust them? Both are leadership questions.
Analyzing Your Team
The question, “Do I have the team in place to handle situations without me?” is really a two-part question. The first part of the answer to that question actually involves asking another question. “Do I have the right people in the right seats on the bus?” When you leave your business for an extended period, the strengths and weaknesses of your team are exposed. The cream of your crop will immediately begin to rise to the top. Additionally, you’ll begin to see who is just riding the coattails of the others.
Owner vs. Operator Mindsets
When you are “in it” every day, it is hard to see the big picture of how the team is functioning because you tend to think in the “operator mindset”. Running my businesses by email from a distant county tends to put me more in the “owner mindset” because I ‘m unable to fill the role of an operator from far away. As an owner, I think it is important to spend time doing both. I make a point of spending time operating my business and time owning it. Or, as Michael Gerber says, “Most entrepreneurs are merely technicians with an entrepreneurial seizure. Most entrepreneurs fail because you are working IN your business rather than ON your business.” When I’m home, I schedule the time to fulfill both roles. But being on another continent allowed me to step away from operations completely and focus on the bigger picture. I truly had to delegate the operations to those I left in charge – which in turn allowed my superstars to shine with me out of the way. It showed which leaders could make decisions without me.
Empowering Your Team to Make Decisions
I don’t know about your business, but in mine, everyone feels the need to “run everything by me”. That may be out of insecurity on their part, it may be out of the poor ability to delegate on my part, or perhaps it’s partly because of their fear of reprisals. Being away allows my team to make decisions without hand-holding and therefore grow as leaders – taking ownership of their respective responsibilities. It also answers the question of, “Am I training my team adequately?” Have I given them the skills and tools and support required to do their jobs? I have worked diligently for the last several years to create a business where I am not the decision-maker for every little problem. Depending on the size of your business, this could be a really bad idea. But as you move from a mom and pop clinic to a business, it becomes inevitable if you are going to continue to grow. Growth is inversely proportional to control. You cannot have both. You cannot make every decision, be part of every conversation, be the go-to person for every problem, and simultaneously grow. That is why most small businesses stay small. What’s the pulse in your business? How are you doing? It’s worth taking the time to think about it.
Living Every Minute,