Six signs that it’s time to step back from your business

“I am not getting old, I am evolving.” Keith Richards.

As someone who will soon collect her first pension cheque, I would concur. And I would take his comment one step further, and add that evolving is what happens with your business too.

It’s probably safe to say that in order to grow your business, it needs to evolve. The challenge is always knowing when is the best time to change it up.  Certainly in running Company of Women, I’ve found that it was vital to the organization’s survival that we didn’t stick to the “same old, same old” otherwise we ran the risk of becoming stale and no longer meeting the needs of our customers.

I have always been a strong proponent of offering what your clients want rather than what you want to deliver.  There is a difference. So it was a bit of a wake-up call when I realized I wasn’t sticking to my own philosophy. I’d stopped offering as many evening events, arguing that women didn’t want them, when truth is, I just didn’t want to work evenings.

Now there are two lessons from this moment of self-discovery – first that I wasn’t listening to my customers and second, that it doesn’t all revolve around me. While I may not want to work evenings, others on the team were willing to take on that role.

All of this forced me to step back and take a serious look at where the organization was going, and more to the point, what as founder, was my role moving forward.

But if I was being honest, there were signs along the way that it was time to shake it up and look at what was best for everyone – the business, my members and myself. Here are some signs that as business owners you might want to watch for:

  1. Boredom. Often you start a business because you have this entrepreneurial drive to create something of your own. But that very creativity can mean that you either are constantly changing it up, or you are easily distracted by the shiny new ideas that cross your path.  In other words – you get bored with the status quo.
  2. Routine. Working on the routine of maintaining the business is not always your forte, and while you do it at the start (usually to save money) it isn’t the best use of your time or skill set.
  3. Right team in place. Building a team of people who bring their unique talents and are invested in your business succeeding, means that you have to entertain and follow through on their ideas. If you have created a climate where people feel some ownership in the success of your business, then you owe it to them to listen.
  4. New ideas and audience. Most of the women on my team are at least 15-20 years younger than I am.  All of which means they are tech-savvy (I am not), relate to a younger audience and have a better sense of what they want. Injecting fresh blood into the organization will refuel and recharge what we offer.
  5. Want to pursue other interests. Quite possibly there is something else you would like to pursue, but it is hard to fit it all in when you are so invested (energy and time-wise) in your business.
  6. Enthusiasm waned. While of course you still believe in your business and what it has to offer, the honeymoon is long over and that bounce in your step when you think about your business has dimmed.

Your eyes light up more when you talk about what you want to do next – be it another business, a project or to retire.

If you recognize any of the above, maybe it’s time to step back and decide what to do next.

In my case, I have been running the business for 13 years now. I have strong leaders in each of my chapters and I am letting them take the lead.  I am still around and will show up when needed, but the bulk of the day-to-day running of the business rests with them.  There are still some areas that I need to delegate, but we are well on our way.

Now is delegating easy?  No.  And I am sure there will be times when I have to give myself a lecture about letting go and living with decisions that perhaps I wouldn’t have made.  But I am confident that overall this will be a good move for all of us.

Plus I want to focus my time on my writing and a new publishing business and that is what drives me.  Yup, I am evolving and so can you.

Image: evolve via Shutterstock

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