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Created on 09 June 2012 Written by John Kageche
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" It is important to recruit both at strategic and tactical level individuals who can run the business in your absence. "

Is your business a one-man show? Can your business outlive you? In fact, do you want your business to live longer than you or do you harbour thoughts of lack of trust for others? Sadly, most small businesses die with the owner-figuratively and literally. Sad because, all businesses start with an idea, which grows into an enterprise and mushrooms into an industry. Though, it’s rarely, if ever, that simple, it is sad when at the enterprise stage it dies owing to the fact that the loss is felt both at macro and micro levels. The economy suffers and so does the employee, their source of income having been truncated. Can your business survive you?

A client, in one of the businesses I have invested in was involved in a horrendous car accident eight years ago. It had him hospitalised for eighteen months. It was another six before he could physically go to his office-or what was left of it. You see, being the enterprising engineer he was, in eight years he had built a successful SME that could rival a small corporate. All that came tumbling down with his ailment. He walks with a crutch now, has about half his energy and is in his 50s now. He freely admits that getting to his former business performance, let alone surpassing it is a Herculean task.

As the entrepreneur who starts the business, you are the one with the vision in mind. You are the one who knows where the business is headed. It takes time to share the vision and even time does not come with the advantage of sharing it conclusively; after all, how do you successfully transfer an image with all its specs from one mind to another. Inception perhaps. In reality though, it’s a challenge.

It is for this reason that most of our small businesses stagnate and sometimes falter. The visionary gets so caught up with the day-today operations they lose sight of the vision or cannot move towards it; were you planning to have several pharmacies in different towns but find that the operations of the one have you tied down? Did you plan to have a fleet of cabs but the money from the two looks just fine? These are signs of an entrepreneur losing their vision.

The problem with this is that you and the business become synonymous to the point that if you run a salon clients who want to have their hair plaited, have to call you first to confirm you are in, and book their appointment, and pass all complaints through you.

How can you possibly breathe, go on holiday, let alone grow? It’s becomes very difficult. What we have learnt through our businesses is that it is important to recruit both at strategic and tactical level individuals who can run the business in your absence. This leaves you so much room to do what you should be doing: determining the long-term strategy for the business thereby ensuring its sustainability.

Admittedly, it requires a fundamental paradigm shift to frontiers of boldness you may have never imagined. But, hey, business, like marriage, is not for the faint hearted!

You will have to encounter several hits and misses before you get the right staff, but in the interest of your personal and business health, it is incumbent upon you as the entrepreneur to take this risk under your wing. When you stop to think about it even that bank or multinational you know about goes through the same challenges as you do-staff turnover.

The difference is in the fact that you are able to see inefficiencies and make decisions much faster than them. The other difference is, and this is important to note, that these established institutions have systems and structures that manage the process making it easy to audit. Therein lies the problem of most small businesses - they lack structures and systems; the owner is thus reduced to clerk, accountant, salesman, manager, MD and Chairman. He falls sick and so does the business.

What can you do to monitor the cash that flows through your business, without being the very one that collects the money? What can you do to monitor the effectiveness of the sales that are done? How do you gauge the customer satisfaction besides you being the front office person? These are the things that should be occupying your mind as the owner, thus freeing you to focus on pursuing your vision.

Space does not allow us to venture more on the strategic side of things but the next article will.

Do yourself and your people a favor. Don’t die with your business!

The author is an investor, trainer, host and professional public speaker

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