Guest author Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council.
As CEO, it’s important that you work on your business, not just in it. Pushing the envelope forward will bring your company to the next phase of growth. However, if you were hands-on while building your initial product, it can be hard to take yourself out of the day-to-day operations.
To help you give your employees more power so you can focus on growth, I asked 9 successful founders from YEC their advice for how to step back so your employees—and company—can step up.
Plan for a Gradual Transition
It’s tough to give away your control all at once. Instead, plan a four-week transition process with your key subordinates. Your plan should specify when you’ll train your subordinate on a new task or skill, how they will practice it, and when you’ll finally transition away. Make sure to specify quantifiable goals; you’ll feel better about the change if you can look at hard numbers and see success. —John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation
Clearly Define a New Product Owner
The most important thing you can do is define a new product owner who reports directly to you. Hold this person accountable for the metrics you think are most important to your business and empower them to make the product your company needs. Also, the way you transition this person to the product role is extremely important. Products exist to solve problems. You need to take the new product owner to your customers and make sure that they understand the problems your customers face as well as how your company is positioned to solve them. —Jonny Simkin, Swyft
Understand That Technical Expertise Isn’t in Your Portfolio Anymore
One of the more challenging aspects of making the transition from product-builder to focused CEO is that, though your technical expertise got the business started, it’s not what’s needed from you going forward as the CEO. It’s impossible to steer the ship when you’re turning nuts in the engine room, and technical expertise is one of the easier elements to hire and train for. An additional complication is that most people in this transition have to let go of something they enjoy and are really good at (product development) to learn to be good at something new and something they may not enjoy. Also, remember that you don’t have to scale and supercharge your business; pay less attention to the magazines and more attention to what’s right for you and your team. —Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing
Remember That You’re Not an Expert at Everything
As the CEO, the buck stops with you. But that doesn’t mean you have to take on every project single-handed. You should take a long hard look at what your strengths are and what you bring to the table, and consider leaving some of the rest up to the experts. It makes no sense to meddle with and over-manage a project if you’re less knowledgeable than the people doing it. Approve the end result, but leave the rest in your team’s hands. Your employees will thank you for it, and the end result will be much better. —Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital
Identify and Delegate Routine, Time-Consuming Tasks
My husband and I started out doing everything. Then I mechanized the production, made posterboard molds, wrote very clear 25-step instructions with pictures, and taught four part-time people how to do about seven steps each. Then I taught another part-timer how to do all fulfillment. I showed him, he tried it, and then he wrote down the procedure himself. Then I handed off customer service—with routine answers to about 80 percent of the questions we get. The new person then only bugged me about the other 20 percent, and she kept a list of all of the answers. Essentially, I just kept identifying the most routine tasks that I could easily teach someone else. Expect to provide more intense supervision for a few weeks. You’ll feel great to have someone else do things with almost the same quality as yourself. —Wei-Shin Lai, AcousticSheep
Implement Metrics and Quality Controls
Delegating tasks is very important to grow a company. The best way to delegate is to implement metrics so that you can track progress, quality and delivery. In addition, a CEO must implement controls to guarantee a focus on quality. —Tamara Nall, The Leading Niche
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Lay out in front of you all of the day-to-day tasks that you know you just can’t hold onto anymore, and brainstorm which team members you think would handle these tasks responsibly, without overloading their current workload. Then reach out to these employees in person and express that you’d like them to take over the task, if they are willing. Do not force the task upon them, but show them that they are an integral part of your business’s success and that you would love if they could take on this task. You’d be surprised by how many employees are willing to try something new, so you should not be hesitant to delegate what needs to be delegated and trust your team to do it right. —Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
Find the Right People to Trust
Trust is an important tool when you’re looking to step out and offer your team more responsibility. You have to trust that they know what they’re doing and that you’ve selected the right people for the job. Otherwise, you’re going to spend all that growth time concerned that nothing is being done to your standards. Also, allow yourself to let go of your product a little bit, and allow room for growth outside of what you’ve already put into it. —Matt Doyle, Excel Builders
Be Clear With Expectations
I made the mistake several times in believing that my employees “just got it” because they were like me. I projected what they could do, rather than outlining what I needed to be done. I made the false assumption that things were intuitively clear whereas I should have been more explicit about my expectations and the roles they would be given. Be clear with your expectations and what needs to be done. —George Morris, The Framework
Photo by Brussels Airport