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Updated 21 Sep 2020

Can your business survive without you?

If your car hits a wall... what will happen to your business?

Axel Rittershaus, Entrepreneur, 26 February 2014  Share  0 comments  Print

All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

Do you sometimes question yourself as an entrepreneur and leader? If you aren’t, you might be destroying your business!

Being self-confident and committed is crucial for success. But it can also make you blind.

I’m currently running a project for one of my high-achieving, uber-successful, serial entrepreneur clients. He runs seven companies, makes millions and achieves growth rates of 20 – 50% annually.

He is very intelligent, analytical on the spot, super quick in identifying issues and extremely direct in his communication.

Now, almost 10 years into his ventures, he starts questioning the sustainability of his businesses. For a very good reason. And if you run a business, you should do the same. No matter if your company is 12 months or 12 years of age.

From the outside it looks great

From the outside my client’s business looks great. Their client list is like the “who’s who” of prestigious companies. They receive more job applications than they have open positions, which means a lot since they only employ engineers and highly educated people.

He called me recently and we spoke about his concerns regarding the future of the company. During our conversation he realised what he had sensed already for a long time:

That the whole company relies completely on him.

He is the best sales person, the best crisis manager, the ultimate decision maker. Of course he employs managers and young executives. But he did not really delegate all of the tasks he should.

Everyone in the company knows how crucial he is for the success. But nobody dares to talk to him about it. And since the company is very successful, talking about potential risks is nothing that comes easy for an employee. Therefore it never comes.

Only due to our conversations, where he can be 100% open and I can ask the “unthinkable” questions, he is now eventually looking at an obvious task he has to tackle.

Fear is your ally

One of the best free climbers in the world, Alexander Huber, once said “Fear is my life insurance when I am climbing. If I’d lose my fear, I would die. Because I would to things which are too dangerous. I’d be come careless and this would result in doing a fatal wrong move.”

My client now faces his fears and we are identifying the biggest needs in his organisation he has to address.

When his car would hit the wall today, nobody would be able to take over his role. The company would get into trouble within two-three months.

Does this look familiar to you?

The result of my work with this client also reflects what I notice as an executive coach at almost every company in a very similar way!

And it might look familiar to you…

  1. Sales – he has to develop at least two of his best connected people into sales people
  2. Focus – he needs to end starting new businesses whenever he sees an opportunity (at least for a while), because this “being busy” creates problems in his “old” companies. Why? Because the organisation is not ready to make decisions without him
  3. Delegate and accept mistakes – even if he implemented a management structure with three levels, still some employees from the lowest level make direct agreements with him, undermining the complete management structure.

First and foremost he has to delegate people management to his management team and give clear instructions where he wants to head towards.

Then he has to let them do their jobs. Most likely, they will do their jobs different to his style. And he has to accept it! Otherwise his executives are just puppets – and good people will not accept to be a puppet, they would leave eventually

How prepared is your organisation to run without you?

Of course, the situation of your car hitting the wall is a metaphor.

I wish you a very long and happy life – in which you create lots of companies and jobs, because you know how to build an organisation that runs without you eventually.

If you are an entrepreneur, I encourage you to dedicate at least one hour during the next week to answer the following questions:

What would happen?

If your car would hit the wall,

  • What would happen to your sales in the next four weeks / three months / 12 months?
  • What would happen to your delivery/services/production?
  • How would the organisation of your company be affected today, within two weeks / three months / 12 months?
  • Would your business still be working after 12 months? Seriously?

What’s your solution?

Write down what you must do to handle the issues you just came up with.

Especially regarding:

  • Which people do you need in your company?
  • Where will you find them?
  • If you already have them, how are you going to make them more responsible (They can’t be ready yet, otherwise you wouldn’t have identified problems)?
  • How will you educate and train them?

Take action!

And finally:

  • How are you going to force yourself to empower the people, accept failure, encourage learning and let go step by step?
  • Who is going to support you to take this crucial step?
    Select a coach or mentor, get in touch with him and do it!

Never forget: A great leader needs great followers who can take over from him one day, so the leader can move on to new adventures!

Great leaders create new great leaders.

Be a great leader!

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About the author

Axel Rittershaus, Entrepreneur

Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author ( who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. His C-level and top executive clients are located in South Africa, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Brasil, Hong Kong, China, India and many other countries. Axel is a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher.

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