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What would happen to your business if something happened to you? Would it remain profitable? Would it realise its true value? Would it even survive? What would happen to your family?

And when was the last time you took a holiday without being on call, with your tech, the entire time? Do you even remember what it’s like to leave your work behind for 2 or 3 weeks?

In the US, some 70% of smaller business owners simply see public holidays as a way to get some extra work done, while a UK study a few years ago found less than 40% of business owners managed to take a holiday in the preceding 12 months, and 75% of those that did worked every day while on holiday.

And yet, the adverse health effects of not taking a holiday are huge, with stress, sleep problems and others which all add up to a higher risk of strokes and other very serious medical problems. Conversely, business owners who do take regular vacations show reduced stress levels, greater productivity and the time away often helps them see the business more clearly and increases creativity and innovation – useful for your strategy sessions.

So, if you can’t leave your business even for a week or two, what is its true value? How will banks view your risk profile? Would an investor want to buy the company? How secure do your staff feel in their jobs and the prospects for the business, especially if they see you’re stressed?

The typical business owner starts the business with a great idea and expertise in their field. As the business grows, they start to hire people to help, but still keep trying to do “all the important stuff” themself, reasoning that if “you want the job done properly, do it yourself.”

And this is where so many businesses fail: the owner becomes a bottleneck, service levels slip and customers move away. Or a new competitor comes into the market and the business doesn’t respond as the owner is too busy fighting fires.

When you’ve been out visiting customers in the morning and you return, do you find a queue of people outside your office waiting for your decisions on things, calls, and so on? If so, you’re the bottleneck in your business and this needs to change – fast!

You need to DELEGATE… It’s a key leadership skill and without it, your business is doomed to mediocrity. And if you’re not sure how to start, read this post for a quick view on how to get delegating.

Often, a large factor here is simply that people don’t understand what their level of authority is within your business, and when they can take a decision on something – perhaps for a customer… Put a document together that outlines where the lines and levels of authority lie then ensure your team understand theirs, and don’t need to refer to you. (If you’d like a sample authority framework sheet to help you structure your own, press here  and I’ll send you one.)

These two actions will start to take a lot of the small stuff off your plate, freeing some time for you to start thinking more strategically about your business and moving from day-to-day management towards leadership.

Next, start looking at meetings – what does your weekly schedule look like? If it’s full of standard report-back meetings, this needs to change. If you add up the number of people in each meeting per week and multiply by the number of hours for each meeting, you’ll be horrified by just how much time is being spent. Look critically at the meetings in the business and see what can you do to reduce these and free up time for everyone – this article might help.

And then look at your own time management – where you’re spending your time and what you can change. Some of the articles referenced at the end of this post will help you with this.

Your goal is to move from managing, or running, your business to truly leading it. Ask yourself this question, “Am I Running my Business or Leading It?

Once you’re in a position to be able to take a 2, or 3, week holiday, decoupled from your systems and business, you are truly leading it. You’ll find that not only your productivity improves, but so do your stress levels – and that’s good for your family. You’ll find overall productivity and morale boosts in the business, too. Risk will be reduced – not just for you, but all the stakeholders in the business – growth rates will increase as will profitability, and you’ll finally have a business of true value.

It’ll be worth it for all concerned.



Following a career spanning nearly 50 years in the technology industry across three continents, with three decades in CxO roles leading significant, sustained growth in revenue and profitability, I now work with successful owner-led businesses to further enhance their growth, profitability and business value.

If you’d like to discuss your business strategy, culture, goals, or anything else related to your business, book a confidential, free 30-minute call with me here.

I’d be delighted to talk with you.


If you’d like to read further, these related posts might be of interest:

You might also find this article in the Harvard Business Review archives to be interesting: The Five Stages of Small Business Growth

And this article from Haiilo, too: Company Values: Definition, Importance and Examples

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to subscribe to my blog simply enter your details here or drop me a note by pressing here.

#BusinessFitness #Accountability #CEO #Culture #Delegation #Leadership #Management #Overwhelm #People #Profitability #Risk #Strategy #Valuations #WorkLifeBalance


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