How to empower your team so you can grow your business

You’re a first-time CEO leading a company that you’ve built from scratch and it is flourishing due to your strong daily involvement.

As you build a strong team of managers to support the growth, you face a difficult question. Are you ready to turn over the daily operation to them so you can continue growing? If you are like the vast majority of business owners, you are a micromanager.

However, the only way for your business to grow and reach its potential is to let go and trust what you have built. Your new job as a true CEO is to GROW the company. Your managers’ new job is to RUN the company. It is easily said, but much more difficult to do, at least initially.

Get out of the way
You need to tell your managers that they are in charge of the day-to-day details to run an efficient, smooth-running operation. You have faith and trust in them. You are giving them the authority, along with the responsibility, to continue the company on its daily path. You will not step in the middle of their efforts and undermine them unless there is a problem that requires your help. And when an employee asks you for input, you suggest they go to their direct manager.

Now let’s look at your new job — GROWING the company. You are the face of the organization. Your company reflects how you look, speak and act in public and internally. Your first order of business is a SWOT analysis of the organization — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Prioritize them and create a strategic plan to capitalize on the strengths, improve the weaknesses, jump on the opportunities and minimize the risk of the threats. Publish your plan with key metrics that are measurable and have action steps with set dates and responsibility. Present your strategic plan to your whole staff. Let them know they are going to help you make it happen through direct communication and planning.

Do a lot of networking
Your next step is to start networking everywhere and all the time with customers, vendors, trade organizations, community services, professional organizations for CEO brainstorming and anything else you can find. Remember you are the face of the company. You need to convince people you can help them improve their organization with your products and services.

Your brick and mortar business should be a showcase for your products and services. You want to be able to show potential customers you are organized, neat and professional. If it is a service business, your staff needs to show the best possible culture and attitude to win new business. It is your job to drive that culture in the building and the staff. Vendors should want to refer business to you because you reflect success.

The first day will be hard when you switch gears from project management to strategic growth. But don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are lots of experienced CEOs out there ready to lend a hand.

Dolf Kahle is CEO at Visual Marking Systems Inc.