As you may know, I’ve stepped down from my role as the CEO of Full Focus and walked away from the day-to-day operations of the business. I still own the business; however, I now only work six hours a day, four days a week. And guess what? The company keeps growing without my personal direction.
And now I get to spend more time with my wife, Gail, to whom I’ve been married for more than 40 years. I also get to spend more time with my five daughters and all my grandchildren. And when I’m in the office, I’m doing work that I love and that I’m great at doing. I’m having a blast!
You’re Not Alone
Cutting my workweek and getting out of the day-to-day management of the company has generated a lot of interest from my fellow business owners and executives. I get texts from them almost every week. Many of them feel trapped as an operator of their business—where the company’s success depends on their efforts—rather than an owner, who is free to guide the company’s overall trajectory without getting in the weeds.
Nearly all of these business owners and executives want to know exactly what they need to do in order to be in a position to walk away without stressing out—even if it’s just for a two-week vacation. And others are nearing the time in their lives where they want to make the transition like I did, and they want to do it in a way that doesn’t leave a gaping hole in their lives.
Try It Out
When I started what would become Full Focus, I wanted the company to be built in a way where my presence was not required at every moment. Otherwise, the business would eventually stumble—or worse, completely stop. As part of this effort, I made it a point to take a 30-day sabbatical every year.
Yes, my primary objective was to set aside time for rest and rejuvenation. But I also knew that it would make my business better if I weren’t constantly accessible to the team. In other words, I wanted to build a self-managing, self-scaling business. I baked that in from the beginning. This practice has been a game changer.
If you want to create something similar, there are specific building blocks that must be in place for you to enjoy the freedom of stepping away from your business while it continues to grow—even if you just want to get away for a week, a month, or more.
5 Building Blocks to Self-Scaling Your Business
Whether you want to take a more drastic hands-off approach to your business like I have, or you just want to take a vacation or a sabbatical with the knowledge that your company’s doing fine, there are five building blocks to get you there.
Building Block 1: Vision
Every significant endeavor starts with vision. In fact, it’s so important to the success of your business that it’s a big part of our coaching program. Before you make any changes or move toward a self-scaling company, you need a vision for what that looks like. You need to have a clear picture of what this company looks like when you’re not involved or are involved less than you are now.
One of our BusinessAccelerator® clients, Dan Arnsberger, signed up for coaching after attending a training event. In his first session, he learned specifically how to create a written vision for his life and business. He got crystal clear on what he wanted at work and for his personal life. As a result, his company more than doubled the first year he was in our program, from $20 million to $45 million. The following year he hit his stretch goal of $75 million, and last year he hit $100 million—all while taking more time off and investing it in his family. That’s what happens when you start with vision!
Building Block 2: People
If you’re looking to structure your company in a way that enables you to step back from the day-to-day without losing momentum, you can’t do that with average employees. No, you need a team of exceptional players.
When you’re looking to hire A-players, you need to have a vision of who that is and how to attract them to your company. Here are some questions to help you nail down exactly who you need:
- What kind of people will get the results you want and others expect?
- What kind of people will contribute to the culture you are trying to build?
- What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with?
- How can you ensure you’re getting top players from diverse backgrounds?
When it comes to hiring, it’s essential to invest the time it takes to get it right. If you’re like many business owners we work with, there’s so much going on that your team is buried. You might rush the process, take shortcuts, and hire the first person who seems like they can do the work. That’s a big mistake. To build a self-scaling business, you need your people to be more than just capable humans. You want a diverse group of motivated, ambitious go-getters who can operate without your constant supervision. Sometimes, if you want to go fast, you have to go slow. This is particularly true when it comes to the hiring process.
Building Block 3: Culture
Company culture is largely invisible. Most employees have become so acclimated to it, they no longer notice it. It’s like water to a fish. It’s just the environment we operate in.
But here’s the thing. Culture impacts everything a person does at an organization. As you work to build your self-scaling company, it must have a culture that buys into your vision and is constantly working to achieve it. This is particularly important, because culture is the unseen force that drives operating results. What makes a great culture?
- A great culture is high purpose. Purpose is the lifeblood of your culture: people lose their way when they lose their why. When your work has a purpose—when your work matters—your business flourishes.
- A great culture is high relationship. People aren’t robots; they’re social beings. You’re never going to be better than the quality of your relationships. Cultivate relationships within the organization through celebrating achievements, having fun together, and planning social outings—whatever you can think of that lays the groundwork for relationship building that leads to openness, collaboration, and engagement.
- A great culture is high candor. This is something that is missing from many organizations. You want to create a culture that’s safe for dissent. Don’t shut your team members down. Otherwise, you’ll create a yes culture that will blind you to problems you need to address.
Once you have the vision, people, and culture, it’s time to get into the mechanics of building a self-scaling company.
Building Block 4: Systems
Systems are foundational for your company and must be in place before you walk away or reduce your daily involvement. And these aren’t just systems for what you do, but for each area of your business. We could spend hours on the topic of systems—and we do in sessions with our BusinessAccelerator clients—but let’s just cover the basics.
What is a system? A system is a set of steps for carrying out critical tasks. It's like a recipe—a documented process to carry out key business functions.
Why are systems necessary? Systems are how you deliver consistent, positive, predictable results. Imagine if every time you hired a salesperson, you left them alone to figure out how to sell your products. You drop them off at their workstation and tell them, “Alright, you’re the salesperson. Now … sell. Good luck!” That’s not the best strategy, right?
Another one of our coaching clients, Bill Prettyman, used systems to generate big gains in his business. At one of our coaching sessions, he learned about our Full Focus System. He implemented it into his business immediately—with huge results. Just to give you some context, before joining our coaching program, Bill’s business hadn’t grown more than 2 percent year over year in more than a decade. Bill used our system to grow his company by 20 percent, representing $7 million in additional revenue. And it wasn’t just a short-term gain. He grew 40 percent the following year.
If you’re wondering if your company has the systems that would enable you to step away—unplugged—and keep growing, give it a stress test. How? Go on vacation and unplug while you’re gone. Prepare your team, but let them know that you won’t be available. They’re on their own. When you get back, your team will tell you which systems broke down. And if everything goes smoothly? Well, you may be a little bit closer to that extended vacation you’ve been dreaming about!
Building Block 5: Mindset
If you attempt to step away without a vision for you personally, you’re unlikely to succeed. Most successful leaders have sacrificed for years, sometimes decades, to build a successful business. As a result, much of their identity is tied up in their work. For many, they’ve sacrificed their health, their marriage, their relationships with their children, their free time, vacations, hobbies, and the list goes on. This is a stiff price, and it’s not easy to just step away from an organization that has been your primary focus for so long.
To get this transition right, take time to get into the right mindset to make this change. There are three elements to consider when preparing mentally to move away from your daily involvement with the company:
- Realize that you’re not the only option. As someone who’s led organizations of all sizes for the past 40-plus years, I can tell you that you aren’t the only one who can do what you do. Consider this: What if the person you choose to take your place, along with the team you’ve built, could actually lead the business better and take it further?
- Have something you’re going to. It’s imperative that you don’t walk away from your day-to-day role at your company until you have a strong vision for what you’re going to do with your time. What would this transition make possible? What will you do with this new time and focus?
- Build a well-rounded future for yourself. When you’re creating a vision for what the next chapter looks like for you, it’s helpful if you have interests other than work. As you plan for your move away from day-to-day leadership, begin to develop your spiritual life, intellectual life, emotional life, financial life, hobbies, and personal interests. It will lower your stress level and give you purpose.
Take the Next Step
From early 2020, when I made the decision to step into the role of founder and chairman, to January 2, 2021, when I officially made the change, I was able to move through the transition fairly smoothly, but it wasn’t on my own.
I’ve been working with a business coach for more than 20 years, which helped steer me where I needed to go. There are several key benefits of working with a coach.
- They see your blindspots.
- They’re an unbiased sounding board.
- They offer battle-tested, proven experience.
Now that you know the building blocks, you might realize the gap is pretty big between where you are now and where your company needs to be. You might have realized you have two or three out of five of the building blocks in place, but you want to have them all, so you can step away from the day-to-day grind like I did and watch your company keep growing. I want to give you an easy way to build forward momentum, so you have what you need to build a self-scaling company.
I want to offer you a free Business Growth Coaching Call. It’s a full 45-minute coaching session with one of our business consultants, where you’ll gain the ideas and clarity you need to get on the path to owning a self-scaling business. You can sign up—again for free—at businessaccelerator.com/growth.
One of our consultants will dive into your business, learn about your unique challenges and goals, and then come up with ideas to help you move forward in creating a self-scaling business. Their observations may challenge you, but you will come away with ideas and direction on building a company that runs without your constant involvement. If you want to take the next step in developing your self-scaling company, this call is a great place to start.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use and believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.