5 Reasons to Stop Working in the Business

We’ve all heard the adage, “Stop working in the business and start working on the business.” And yet the reality is that few business leaders really do this, especially in the SME sector. The result is that many businesses get stuck at a certain revenue ceiling because they simply can’t grow. The business leader/owner has become a bottleneck in the business. This causes operational flows to slow down and, in the worst case, stop altogether.

Some recent research conducted by Haines Watts, a UK accountancy firm, of 500 UK SME’s revealed that,

“Forty-two percent of UK SME owners believe that their business couldn’t survive more than a single week without them at the helm.”

Imagine what pressure that puts on the business leader just simply to keep things going. Having time to take any vacation days, well that simply doesn’t figure into the equation. And yet, when business leaders step away, even for just a few days, from the daily business operations, they come back renewed, re-energized, and with a new perspective on business issues.

Here are five reasons for this very serious business challenge:

1) Lack of Shared Vision

Business leaders are poor at articulating clearly their vision for the business. As such, their teams are not on the same page when it comes to the strategic growth plan. These divergent views cause silos to emerge, and create team disengagement. The team members, who could massively drive the business forward, are not engaged. They don’t believe they can contribute to the success of the business.

2) Poor Planning

The research revealed that 84% of business owners are only able to spend between 1-10% of their working week planning for the future. In contrast, business leaders who are able to step back and focus predominantly on planning are more than twice as likely to run fast growth businesses (annual growth greater than 15%).

This is the typical chicken and egg situation. The business leader doesn’t feel that they have time to plan, and yet without creating a robust, well thought-out plan, no one else can navigate the business, as they don’t know where they are heading.

3) Lack of Trust

Only 60% of business leaders believe that they have the full support of their management team. As a result, many business leaders simply don’t trust their team to deliver. Whether this is a perception built on ego – no one can do this as well as me – or a genuine concern, the reality is the same. The business leader doesn’t share vital information with team members, and so they feel dis-empowered to do their role.

4) Lack of Communication

The problem of a lack of trust is compounded by poor communication. Fifty-two percent of business owners find themselves hiding their concerns from their teams because they are worried about showing vulnerability. Yet we know that being able to display vulnerability is a key skill of a leader; and if the business leader cannot articulate their concerns to their management teams, then there is no transparency and courageous conversations fail to occur.

5) Lack of a Growth Mindset

For an SME business, there is a very real need to focus on sales if the business is to grow. Many management teams lack the skill-set to help the business leader grow the business. The research revealed that 53% of management teams have never helped grow a business prior to the one they now work in today. This is because, in larger organizations, there are specific functions dedicated to sales. In a smaller business, every single team member needs to be a brand ambassador actively promoting and selling the business at every opportunity

Given that SME sector is the powerhouse of economic growth across the world, it is imperative that we help these business leaders elevate themselves out of the day-to-day operations so that they can become more strategic about their growth. Only by doing so will they be able to fully leverage the power of their teams, and create a more engaged workforce that delivers more productivity and profitability to fuel business growth.