Develop your team and a succession plan to be ready when you move on

Let’s talk about growing your business from that small startup you created as an entrepreneur. You had an idea, the energy and the desire to be your own boss with your destiny in your own hands. I know that feeling from 33 years ago. Eventually you add more staff and you need to manage more people. And you don’t have enough time in the day.

This is when you need to develop a management team to help you grow the business. I like to call it creating a succession plan and a sustainability plan that insures your baby continues, even when you aren’t there anymore. Plus, you are creating a much more valuable business that you can cash out when you are ready to stop running on that daily business treadmill.

Where do you find that senior management team? I started with my immediate staff. It worked for a while because they knew the business. But are they really trained to grow a business or to just run their part? I looked outside the business by hiring people from like businesses. The hope was they would bring new ideas and talent to the table. Some did and others were just looking for more money as they job shopped.

Then I stopped looking for job-specific talent and started evaluating their desire, attitude, willingness to learn, openness to change and ability to teach others. I wanted to know what size business they really like to work in. Some like the security and slower pace of the large corporation. But is there really security in today’s business world? Others prefer the fast pace, multiple hats and always changing scenery of a smaller business.

Keep it lively

That is when I started to understand how to develop a cohesive senior management team. The reality is, they aren’t always cohesive and that is a good thing.

I like to see lively discussions between them that help generate new ideas. Plus, that goal of bringing in new talent from the outside for new ideas and new energy has led to continued growth without me having to be the driver (boy do I sleep much better now!).

So how do you train your senior management team? If you pick the right people, you will find you don’t need to train them on the management side. You just need to counsel them on ideas. Plan to train them on your business, but don’t tell them it is written in stone. You hired them to be creative. Don’t micromanage them. Your job should be to coach, mentor, motivate, encourage, counsel, be a sounding board…..  Your job is to grow the business, not run the business.

If you hired well and helped train them, you have developed that succession plan for management and sustainability of your business for future generations or that cash-out phase of your career. Congratulations!

Dolf Kahle is CEO of Visual Markings Inc.