By: Larry Fish, President
I have found one of the toughest issues facing the owner of a growing landscape business is the challenge of building succession into the business by selecting and hiring people who will help the business survive long term. This is a tough, time-consuming effort because there are a few realities we all have to face about this subject. Here are a few to consider and see if any apply to your current or past experiences:
- Many entrepreneurs have what it takes to start companies, but they may not always have the skills and patience necessary to develop them into long-term success stories.
- Sometimes, people who start companies hire friends, acquaintances or relatives who, while loyal and hard-working during the early years of the new business, may lack the talent and expertise necessary to take the firm to its next level of development. The owner feels compelled to protect and reward these loyal employees despite their shortcomings and this can cause problems with other employees.
- Oftentimes, founders of growing companies are among the world’s worst delegators. Who can blame them? They have taken the ultimate risk in starting a new business, implementing their ideas, making decisions, and, guess what; the fruits of their labor have paid off and their companies are growing. The idea of giving any part of this responsibility to someone else is a totally alien consideration.
- And finally, there is one additional reality, or in many cases, myth, for many small business owners to face. They believe that they don’t have to worry about succession because their employees care so much about the company that they will willingly come up with lots of cash to purchase it from the owner when the time comes. Many find out too late that this belief is absolutely false.
So, what’s the answer? How does the business owner respond to this challenge?
- Take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself whether or not you are the type of owner who can consciously bring people into your company who are more proficient in certain areas than you are. Will you let them operate with the level of autonomy and freedom necessary to bring the best they have to bear on the work of your firm?
- Will you look long and hard at every position that becomes available in your company that requires leadership and management expertise and hire the best people you can afford instead of selecting whomever happens to be available?
- Will you take a personal interest in constantly looking for the “up and comers” in your company and monitoring their progress? Will you see that they are given additional responsibilities to test their potential for growth and have someone report to you about how they performed these new duties?
- Will you stay abreast of the technology changes that affect your industry and watch for people who have an aptitude for this and find places for them in your firm, even though you are not a “Techno-Nerd” yourself?
- Will you make a resolution that to the best of your ability, your company will not miss a growth opportunity because you didn’t have enough of the right kind of people to make it happen?
- Will you become such a proponent of selecting affordable talent that your current employees become the primary recruiters for your company?
- Will you seek competent financial and legal advice about how to structure equity positions in your firm well in advance of having to do it in order to hire someone?
- Assuming you are successful with some of these suggestions, would you be willing to take a day off and not call the office?
Perhaps you might want to put some of these on your strategic planning list this year!
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