When Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that he will be taking indefinite leave for health reasons the market reacted, share prices dipped and experts wondered if Apple could continue to go from strength to strength without the charismatic Jobs at the helm.
If a business with as many employees as Apple can suffer the wobbles without it’s CEO then it is a worthy exercise for all business owners to take the time to think about how their business would survive if they were to take extended leave or exit their business.
Business Development Company Director John Downes says we have all heard the cautionary tales of business owners preparing to sell up and move on, only to discover that they are the business and without them they have nothing left to sell.
“Too many business owners hang on to the everyday intricacies of running their businesses, working 80 hour weeks and spending days off fielding calls from staff not able to make a decision without them,” John said.
“Essentially, they are paying their staff to watch them work.”
According to John there are four key things business owners need to get in place so that their business can function without them.
A good handle of the numbers of is essential, specifically where the business earns and spends its money.
“You need to know where your money is coming from and why and also where it is going and why,” John said.
“Most importantly you need to know which are the key metrics that lead to a more profitable business, whether that be revenue per transaction, wastage percentage, sales to rent or conversion rates.”
Secondly, staff need clarity around what their roles involve and what is expected of them.
“Your staff need to know what they are responsible for and what they will be held accountable for,” John said.
“It is only once you understand the numbers of your business that you can share these with your staff and get them focusing on what is important.”
The third key to a business that can run without you is staff education.
“Once your staff know clearly what is expected of them and what they are accountable for, you need to provide training to ensure they can perform their roles and are prepared for taking on the responsibility.”
Lastly, you must be consistent and disciplined to focus everyone on delivering the numbers.
“Once you have the first three in place it is now time to let your staff get on with it and make sure you hold them accountable,” John said.
“It will take discipline for you to take that step back, but you must remain consistent. Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere, your business needs to be able to function without you.”