I often ask people why they choose to own and operate their businesses. Why do we take on the challenges in place of something ‘more secure’ like a job? And in asking these questions of many directly involved in small and medium enterprise (SME) I have come up with the top ten reasons for entrepreneurship.

If I was to summarise the top ten, the essence would be that owners want their businesses to serve them and their lives. Things like an opportunity to earn a higher income, to be creative, to grow your wealth and so on.

What happens in the majority is the opposite. Owners often find themselves serving their businesses. They are tied to it, have less freedom and if they went away for an extended period of time, the business would implode. Do you know of anyone in that position?

There are real problems with this on many fronts. One of the major symptoms that appears is the owner will eventually want to sell the business, get out and get some life back.

The problem continues in that the business will not be saleable. If the business relies heavily on the existing owner, no one I know would pay a premium for it, or even worse no one would be brave enough to buy it. It won’t sell. Where to from here?

You need to free yourself from your business, that’s where. Easier said than done I hear you say.

So what then is the secret to freeing yourself from your business? Well I’m glad you asked.

What I am about to suggest may seem a little harsh at first but if you can take this on, you will get the freedom you so desire.

You need to let go of the level of self importance you place on yourself in your business. Now I know you have an important role to play in your business, no denying that. The key thing here is that the role itself is important, not necessarily yourself. Do you get the difference?

If you place more importance on yourself than over your role, then the business will always be reliant on you. The more you can reduce your importance to your business, the more freedom you will have.

For example, when one of your team members asks you a question, do you straight out give them the answer? If the answer is yes, there is a fair chance you’re tied to your business. You make yourself endlessly available, you know everything there is to know and you’re going to make sure everyone knows how much you know about your business! Congratulations, you are training your people to rely on you, which in turn makes you tied to your business.

Do this instead. When a question comes from one of your team members, ask them what they would do. Don’t give them the answer straight away. Train them not only to turn up but also to turn on. That’s what you pay them for, right?

Train your team members to not only come with questions, but also with solutions. You’ll create freedom for yourself and your team members will love you for it because they’re getting an opportunity to contribute. Everybody wins!

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