how to automate your business

That’s the dream, right? A business that works for you and not the other way around. But how do you automate your business so that it allows you the time to do what you love?

What’s the point of being self-employed if all you do is get a job in your own business as a CEO!?

The idea is to make money with as little interference from you – the business owner – as possible.

Imagine a running concern, where you just check up once in a week or so (if that) and that company gives you a sizable amount of money to spend. An automated set of systems that doesn’t require your input as such. You will be free to spend your money, go on a world tour, sip non-alcoholic drinks on a beach in Thailand, etc, etc, etc. 🙂

But what steps are involved in creating such a company that can run without you?

Understand the Difference in Strategy

Strategy is your master plan. Tactics always come from a certain strategy. To own a company that can run without you, you need to know the right strategy.

First, we need to remind ourselves of the basic difference between your business and your profession. For my new readers: around here, a business is considered a set of systems that you set up to make money – and a profession is something that you like to spend your time on. It is ideal that you spend the least amount of time in your business, and you spend your time improving in your profession.

To own a company that can run without you, you need to treat it strictly as a business, and not a profession. If you are, say, a chef and start a cake-baking business, then it is important that you start distancing yourself from it.

“But I don’t want to!” you say. That is fine too. But that won’t get you a company that runs without you. You won’t own that business, you’ll be running it as well. And that brings me to an important point…

Own a Business, not Run a Business

You need to decide if you want to own your business or you want to also run your business. This is very important.

When you are starting a company, you will end up doing many of the tasks yourself. But it should  be part of the plan to remove yourself from each job role by filling them with your company employees. You are working on your business, not in your business.

Your business plan – whether it is a 100-page documented ode to clipart and graphs, or a single-page stuff of legends – should not have you as an integral part of the company!

I repeat, what’s the point of being self-employed if you get a job in your own business?

Eventually, you need to have it in your plan to remove yourself as CEO when the time comes. And to finally delegate the biggest responsibility of company CEO to someone else.

Delegate, delegate, delegate

To own a company that can run without you, you need to learn how to delegate. Delegation is probably one of the simplest tasks to understand and one of the hardest to implement.

For a start, ask yourself, “how come all these big businessmen have so many different companies?” Of course, they are not there all the time. How are they managing that?

Simple. By delegating.

I am sorry but I’ve found that most entrepreneurs pretty much fail flat-out when it comes to delegation.

Delegation means that you not only shift responsibility to someone else, but you also shift the equivalent authority.

People are very much OK in shifting the responsibility, but they find it very hard to shift authority. That is why so many people end up saying that “if you want to do it right, you gotta do it yourself!”. In terms of setting up an automated business that can run without you, you do not want to do it yourself!

I think that shifting authority is so hard because it involves trust. And trusting someone is hard. But make no mistake, you will be never be able to own your business and find that elusive peace of mind till the time you learn how to trust and delegate.

Set up your own Agreed Service Levels

Understand that the business will not perform as brightly under hired hands. That is OK.

I am sure Virgin Atlantic (airlines) will have a lot more ticket sales if Sir Richard Branson himself stands at the ticket counter. But he doesn’t. He technically sacrifices the additional sales because the decision to delegate ticket sales was made long ago.

It is as simple as that. A process needs to be defined for all important tasks and an expected outcome must be agreed upon.

The profit margins will possibly increase if  you yourself do certain tasks that you are good at. But that doesn’t mean you do them all the time. It should be part of the plan to delegate those tasks as well, basing the outcome upon the Agreed Service Levels. People can be trained to produce those results, making sure that you get out of the way!

Have an Exit Plan

I always try to think of any new venture or company as a project. And as a rule, projects have a deadline. That deadline is your exit plan.

Think of an exit plan as your plan to sell your company.

In some cases, it will be a ‘what if’ scenario. A lot of people will not sell a company that they have created. But having an exit plan helps you streamline your activities. It gives you a goal.

After all, if your exit plan is to sell the company after three years, then you need to set up systems within the company. You will plan the company so that a new management will be able to take over easily, and this means you will have better job descriptions for each job role.

An exit plan will have you set up more robust systems.

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I am in the process of launching a new company with one other partner. It is exciting stuff and we are going through the whole deal with the above ideas in mind. We want a company that should be able to run on its own. We want to get out of the way. 

We keep reminding ourselves that we are not selling the product, we are selling business systems.

Do you have any experiences with business automation, delegation etc? Good or bad, either online or offline.

Image courtesy Shazwan

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