07/11/2014

By Kevin Uphill, Chairman, Avondale

Every business owner sets out to create a successful organisation; with business growth being one of their key objectives. How they achieve this depends on factors such geography, sector product and customer base. There are several golden rules that should be considered, such as having long-term strategic growth plans in place, increasing recurring revenue and creating barriers to market.

However, the element most crucial to business growth is often overlooked – having the right attitude and approach to building the business and increasing its value is instrumental. Business owners are often too busy working ‘in’ the business to set long-term strategic goals and plans. Their time is eroded by man-management and customer liaison, leaving little time to examine the bigger picture.

In order to create a successful company and sustainable growth, business leaders need to work on the organisation at a strategic level. Far too often entrepreneurs come up with a great service or product and transform this into a successful business, but it remains all too easy to slip into the role of the firefighting MD; getting bogged down in detail, refusing to delegate, becoming stressed and working too many hours.

Not only does this lead to a lack of time to work on the business and further develop it, but entrepreneurs can lose their innovative outlook and fall into the bad habits of reacting rather than planning and man-managing rather than delegating. The lack of strategic work and the high risk of burnout can fundamentally undermine the value and growth of any business.

The Importance of Delegation

So why do so many MDs appear as highly-stressed authoritarians rather than strategic-thinking executives? It’s often emotion that clouds sense of judgement, and a lack of trust in others performing a task well leads to lack of delegation. Not only does this mean that MDs are busy performing surplus tasks, but also that they are not empowering or training their workforce.

Guilt can play a factor in this too, and it’s not unusual to feel that if the rest of the team is working exceptionally hard, the same must said for the MD. ‘Thinking is not seen as working, so therefore I must get involved in day-to-day activities’ is not an uncommon thought; neither is ‘I need to be in the office all the time – people need to see me’.

As understandable as these sentiments may be, the question remains of why other people can’t solve problems and respond to queries? The key is to delegate, to create a well-trained second tier that drives the business allowing you time to focus on strategy, creating a high-value organisation. Rather than focusing on the task, concentrate on strategy.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

People who have created a fast-track, high-growth business are plenteous, and though luck may have lent a hand in some cases, it is achieved time and time again. This is done by design and working smarter, not harder, by working ‘on’ the business as opposed to ‘in’. In the process a capable, reliable management team is created, one which drives the business whilst the MD can work on strategy.

Creating growth is about research and development, intelligent design, having the right products, accountability, alliances and strategy, and not necessarily how hard you work. Time should be taken to focus on the bigger picture, and reflect, analyse, contemplate and design in order to gain a higher understanding. After all, the best ideas come from unruffled, stress-free minds. Understanding how to design stronger businesses that drive growth without a harassed manager will result in being able to create higher-value businesses more quickly.