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Owners often fall into the trap of thinking they’re indispensable – but they need to stand back so their business can flourish. 

When you’ve built up your company from scratch doing everything yourself, from planning and finance to publicity and marketing, it can be hard to delegate these tasks. In our recent survey of UK business owners, 42% of them told us they believed that their company wouldn’t survive a single week without them.

This behaviour not only stops companies from fulfilling their potential, but is unsustainable both for owner and business alike.

Few owners start off a business with a large team and most of them are not business-trained; at various stages in the company growth cycle, they need help. This is because they’re too busy working in the business rather than on the business.

Doing everything themselves isn’t viable long term and these owners can become a massive block to the growth of their companies.

Another challenge for owners who are reluctant to give up control is that they don’t have anyone to challenge them or a wider management team to bounce ideas off. This can make it a bit lonely at the top. When everything is on your shoulders, you take all the pain and all the joy – so when something good happens, you’re looking around an empty room.

Take a leaf out of my book, on Fridays I don’t take any meetings. Instead, I go through what I’ve done that week and plan what I’m going to do the next week.

For owners looking to exit their business, a controlling owner can put off potential buyers. If your business can’t operate for a week without you, why would anyone buy it? The value is in the business, not the individual. Buyers write the biggest cheques for businesses that can survive without their owners.

How can owners lead, but not impede?

  1. Stand back – Make time every week to take yourself away from day-to-day activities.
  2. Remain mindful – Treat your business as its own entity, not an extension of yourself.
  3. Mind the gap – Identify the gaps in your own skills and bring in people to fill these roles who are better at them than you are.
  4. Look ahead – Think about where your company will be in a decade – then recruit, improve and plan accordingly.
  5. Share the load – Seek out support outside of the business from those you trust.

Buyers write the biggest cheques for businesses that can survive without their owners.

Read more

How to reduce your business’ reliance on you

How to achieve business progress

Find and contact your local Haines Watts office

About the author

Matt Perry

Matt’s focus is on helping owners and their management teams on all aspects of structure, strategy, growth and the potential realisation of value from their businesses.

He has particular expertise in supporting owners who are running businesses that are rapidly increasing in complexity. He works closely with these owners to scale their operations, address management and leadership issues and obtain funding for investment and growth.

Matt brings a keen understanding of the broader commercial issues that impact growing business, including governance, risk, succession and protecting personal wealth.


I enjoy becoming an integral part of a business’s journey and draw on my own experience in managing a fast growing company. There are so many angles to consider when a business starts to scale up. There’s nothing better for me than setting some long term goals with a business owner, supporting them through that growth and ultimately seeing them achieve their ambitions.

If I wasn’t doing this I’d be: selling.

Favourite Sports Team: Arsenal.

Dream Location: Sicily.

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