I have always been a sole entrepreneur, and I still am till the moment of this writing. I have always struggled with founder dependence issue.
Partnering with other people was always slowing me down, or allowing limited mindsets to cause failure in reaching my dreams. May be I haven’t found the right people yet, but that is only my experience.
Because I fall into this category of entrepreneurs, I know exactly how it feels to be the only one running a business. And I understand how a business can go down, if you are not around.
It is very frustrating and exhausting, when the business completely relies on you. You can’t take a break, you can’t sleep well, and even you can’t die peacefully. Just kidding!
I struggled, until I discovered some workarounds that can solve this problem. Let me share with you what I’ve got.
If Your Business Idea Causes Founder Dependence Issue, You Have to Pivot!
My first business model was very complicated, and I was the only person I know who was able to run it.
Was it a success? No!
I failed because I was the only one running the technical part, the marketing part, and the customer service part.
Every business needs customers, a high quality service, and great customer satisfaction.
To do this, I wasn’t only wearing different hats. I was changing my skin from an IT engineer, to a marketer, to a 24 hours customer service agent. I was all alone, in a fiercely competitive market.
Although the decision was very delayed, but after 10 years of struggling, I had to pivot.
Why didn’t I hire somebody to help instead?
I tried. But I had two options. Hiring an expert with a huge budget. Or hiring a newbie with a risk of ruining my business with lower quality, or no results at all. And accordingly wasting money, and reputation.
Because I didn’t have enough money to do so, and I couldn’t risk the quality in this market, I had to do it all by myself.
That’s why after a decade, I decided to let go my business idea, and find something else.
Then I found the next idea. A business where I can wear all the hats easily at the beginning, and later hire some help without risking anything.
So my advice to you is, don’t marry your failing business idea, just move on before it is too late.
I am not saying just find an easy idea to make it a business. Or that you shouldn’t be an innovative or creative entrepreneur, with a great invention that no one else can come up with.
I am saying that, the business operations and daily tasks, shouldn’t be depending solely on you, and cause founder dependence issue. Got my point?
Now, here is the part that I love! Automation.
Use Automation with Anything That Can Be Automated
Technology is awesome! You can set and forget lots of the repeated tasks in your business, through automation.
For example, you can automate your accounting and book-keeping, social media posts, website and blog backups, task management and so on.
You can setup auto-responders, or email follow-up sequences, that can be triggered once someone sends you and email, or joins your email list. One of the best tools for this purpose that I recommend is ConvertKit. “Affiliate Link”.
So, why waste your time doing these tasks by yourself, or waste money hiring someone to do them.
Just automate and follow-up regularly.
Let me give you a real life example!
In my current business, I have signed up for a service to send a sequence of emails to my customers, once they place an order.
The first email thanks them for the order, and the last email asks them to leave a review on the product or service. If you are an Amazon seller, you should love it. It is called ZonPages,“affiliate link” check it out it is packed with a lot of features for a very low price.
Imagine if I had to send about 50 emails, or more per day, everyday on a timely manner. This is a great example of founder dependence. You are running the business all day long.
Document Everything You Do to Run Your Business
I have always found it very helpful to document my processes, and the steps I follow to complete tasks.
You can always refer to those documentations, whether they were in a written format, or as recorded audio or video tutorials.
This will save you a lot of time.
Not just in remembering how to do the tasks by yourself, but also when you start to delegate those tasks to other employees in your business. In person training will be very little, because it will only be limited to questions about the missing gaps in your documentations, or to clarify some steps.
It is very time-consuming to start every task from scratch. You know you did this task before, but you are unable to remember the exact steps, or workarounds, to follow.
And also, it is very annoying to teach every new employee or virtual assistant the same steps you used to do everyday, until you got bored or overwhelmed by them. And now you have to explain them in details to a new hire who have no clue about them.
Do not do this to yourself and your business. Just document everything, and the next time you need to complete a task or delegate it, there will be no efforts.
Speaking of delegation, and in my opinion it is the hardest part.
Let’s dive into the delegation issue.
If You Want Your Business to Sustain & Grow, You Have to Delegate
It is always advisable as an entrepreneur, to hire your weaknesses, and it makes sense.
But what about the stuff that you are good at. But they are slowing down your growth, and very dependent on you, because you are the only one who can do them?
You should also hire talents who can do the tasks you are good at, so you can focus on higher level goals. Or they can be a reliable backup when you are not around. So your business keeps running, and growing smoothly.
Delegation is difficult. Because it involves trusting others with your confidential business information, trade secrets, and even with the quality of results.
However, delegation itself is not the problem. You have to choose the right people, who you can really trust with all the above. A friend or a relative doesn’t always mean a trustworthy person. Trust should be built on true experiences, and after facing real challenges.
Moreover, trust alone shouldn’t urge you to delegate by throwing tasks at your employees faces, and runaway. You have to assigns those tasks slowly, bite by bite, and from low difficulty to advanced levels, when you feel they can complete them without issues.
So, if you want to build and run a successful business, it should not be fully dependent on you. But what if perfection is your goal? Should you hire and delegate tasks only to perfectionists? No!
To Build A Sustainable Business, Don’t Be A Perfectionist
We are always afraid to receive negative feedback. And this leads to seeking perfection.
However, perfectionism have been always an obstacle in my way to success. Many times I was beyond project schedule, because I wanted to include everything in my output, and everything should be perfect. No negative feedback is accepted.
This as well causes trust issues, and delegation problems. You can’t empower your employees with perfectionism in place.
If you can’t trust your own results, and always need them to be perfect, how will you trust others?
You will keep micro managing your employees or virtual assistants, and instead of delegating tasks and empower them, you will treat them as extra hands attached to your arm. This as a result leads to founder dependence issue.
You have to seek high quality, accept feedback and improve. This is better than going into loops of chasing perfection. And even when the results come to life, your ego keeps you stuck and refusing to improve, or keep up with market requirements or enhancements.
Your results shouldn’t be always meeting your highest goals from the very beginning. Instead, follow the concept of minimum viable product, and build upon it by time.
However, building upon results needs to be based on clear plans, and priorities lists.
Always Share Your Plans and Priorities with Concerned Parties
People in your virtual team are human beings, with personal plans and priorities.
They might have plans this year for a long vacation, or even leaving your business by the end of the year. What if you are relying on them to complete your own plans, or consider your priorities over theirs?
You have to clearly declare your business plans for the year, or the quarter, with concerned people in your team. And you have to let people share their thoughts about it, and honestly announce if they have any business, or personal issues with them.
If you and your team agree on the plans and priorities, your business will not face a founder dependence issue. The issue will happen only when someone in your team, you were relying on, leaves before project completion, and you had to fill in his place by yourself.
If you shared your plans, and no one had comments, and later anyone detached himself from the responsibility and favored his own plans, then I believe you know by then who fits in your dream team, and who doesn’t.
During my projects, I normally declare the plans and priorities at the beginning in an organized way. Then, I hold everyone accountable on a certain area.
I follow-up from time to time, to make sure that nothing will delay our work.
But it happens anyway!
A few times, I had employees who favor their priorities over the project’s. Some left and some were less productive, because of other personal distractions. I did one thing, a blacklisted them for my future projects. They knew it at once, because I don’t discuss this after the fact. If you are not reliable, that’s it.
Conclusions To Overcome Founder Dependence Issue
To build and run a successful business that doesn’t fully depend on you as an entrepreneur, you have to be realistic.
Dreams are great motivators, and every entrepreneur should dream big. But, to sustain in this world as a business, you have to choose trustworthy employees, and empower them to take decisions that favor the best interest of your business.
Document all the operations in your business, and hand the relevant documents over to every concerned person in your team. Allow them to come back with questions that complement the documented material, but make your documentations are clear and easy to digest, to reduce this founder dependence issue.
And finally, you have to get your minimum viable results faster. Then, improve and develop upon those results, until you reach your highest business goals.
If you are facing the small business founder dependence issue, as most of us do, please share your experience in the comments below.