Step Aside

Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1994, from his garage, as an online retailer of books. Jeff was pretty-much the guy who did everything. He was the CEO, but he was also the guy who packed the books into a box and drove to the post office every day to ship the orders to customers.  

 As you can imagine, he handed the job of ‘packing boxes’ over to someone else within a short period of time so he could work on more complex tasks and problems. He replaced himself. And he continued to replace himself over and over again as his company quickly grew. But he kept on replacing himself every single year. A couple of years ago he even handed over CEO duties. 

 Dan Kennedy says, ‘replacement is the ultimate entrepreneurial accomplishment.’ To build a business so efficiently that it functions perfectly well without the owner involved in the day to day running.  

 I’ve followed that path and continued to replace myself and fire myself from more and more tasks in the business with each passing year.  

 My personal view is that this is the healthy way to run and grow a business. Doing the same job over and over for years would bore me to tears.  

 Most people (your staff included) want to feel challenged by their work and to be stretched by bigger and harder problems to solve. Moving up and stepping aside is what creates the room for growth for your team also.  

 Create a vacuum and they will step in to fill the space and they will surprise you and themselves with how much they like being empowered and having more responsibility.  

 And the business will move forward to new levels because you are focused on higher level thinking and strategy. There is great leverage when you spend time on that kind of work.  

 My favourite definition of ‘entrepreneur’ is the person who organises the resources of a company to manage risk, deliver value and achieve profitable growth. ORGANISE is the key word. I organise our people, products, processes, pricing, strategy, marketing etc. And I love the work.  

 The principle here is you need to keep moving to higher and higher levels of contribution within your business. Hand off lower value tasks to one of your team (who will grow because of the opportunity). Keep repeating this process or you’ll get stuck at wherever you are currently at. 

 Play to your natural strengths. There is more than one way to be a successful entrepreneur. Get very clear about what YOUR strengths are and design your work to get the best out of you.  

 Read the brilliant book ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths’ by Marcus Buckingham.  

 Regardless of your strengths though you must keep replacing yourself and moving up and stepping aside. 

 You should be working on the hardest and most complex challenges and biggest opportunities that exist in your business.  

 And that work does not happen on the front-line. Work hard AND work smart.