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What's my job? Featured

6:27am EDT July 19, 2002
Business owners are told more times than they care to hear that they need to be working on their business and not in their business.

It's a fact that companies cannot grow if the owner insists on being involved in everything. The more owners can distance themselves from the day-to-day operations, the greater the value of the business.

Few owners would disagree. Making it happen, however, isn't easy. Fear of failure and personal ego often get in the way. But it's imperative to understand that making it happen is an owner's most important job.

The secret to letting go is in knowing what your job is as an owner. Actually, there are five distinct jobs that, if understood, can enable you to focus on building your business.

Set and communicate the vision

This is one job that can not be delegated. It is the owner's privilege and responsibility to set the vision of the company. Without it, the company lacks a clear direction and focus.

But having a vision doesn't do much if you're the only person in the organization who knows what it is. The job of owner requires you to be communicator, proponent and promoter of the vision until everyone understands it and is focused on it.

Strengthen the culture

Companies that have grown successfully and have been able to sustain their growth and success usually have one thing in common -- a strong culture.

One of your jobs as owner is to define and strengthen your company's culture. The culture must be one you believe is aligned with your vision and management style, that will help and not hinder your need to let go. Your commitment to it has to be strong and continually reinforced through your actions.

Build the team

If your responsibility as owner is to work on the business, you need the right team in place to work in the business.

Building a team is different than team building, and different than simply placing bodies into organizational slots. Building a team is pulling together the right people who understand and buy in to the vision, who fit into the culture, and who make you confident that, when you give them the ball, they will run with it in the right direction.

This is one job where you cannot afford to skimp. Within your budget constraints, you need the best possible people. You also need to let your ego go and seek out a team that can do its jobs better than you could have done them.

Be the leader

Working on the business does not move you out of your business. It simply shifts your focus to leading the organization with a strong but gentle pull rather than by pushing it.

With a team in place, the business is operating in a strong culture and is focused on a clear vision. With this happening, you shouldn't have to manage so much as lead.

Let go and work on the future

The excuses are gone. If you're performing your first four jobs, there should be no reason for not letting go.

Even understanding the jobs of the owner, is letting go easy? No. But it is worth the effort. Without it, real growth is impossible. Building real value cannot happen as long as you are in total control.

So grip the edge of your desk, let it happen and get ready for the ride. Joel Strom (jstrom@jsagrowth.com) is director of Joel Strom Associates LLC, the growth management practice of C&P Advisors LLC. The firm works exclusively with closely held businesses and their ownership, helping them set and achieve growth objectives while maximizing their profitability and value. Contact him at (216) 831-2663.