By Minda Zetlin
The biggest challenge facing many entrepreneurs is one they’re barely aware of: caught up in the hectic work of running a growing company, they can’t or don’t take the time to think strategically about the future. In other words, they’re working in the business rather than on the business.
“To be successful, entrepreneurs should not be working in the business more than 50 percent of the time,” says ERPA founder and Destination Success author Sri Gaddam. If that seems impossible, he says, you should first make sure you have reliable people working with you and then do something most entrepreneurs are very bad at: delegate some of your workload.
Once you free up 50 percent of your work time, what should you do with it? Spend some of it mentoring and coaching employees, some reading articles, and some taking classes or attending industry networking events where talking to your peers is bound to make you think in new ways about your own company, Gaddam recommends.
Making a succession plan is another way to think about the future. “Smaller organizations are so focused on delivery, and they’re lean,” says Jeff Skipper, CEO of Jeff Skipper Consulting. “It’s more challenging to think about who’s going to take your place or take the place of a more senior leader.”
One other thing, he says: “Don’t get fixated on one possible future.” It might be tough for your organization to plan for several different scenarios instead of just one, but you should do just that, he says. “Think about the fact that there may be several possible futures. Keep that flexibility in your mind.”
Photography by Shutterstock
Minda Zetlin is coauthor, with Bill Pfleging, of The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don’t Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive (Prometheus Books, 2006).