Truth of Entrepreneurial Ideal

The success of your business does not need to rely on your presence! Despite seeming like a foreign concept, the best type of business is one that does not need you.

For many people, the definition of “entrepreneur” is “someone who starts or owns their own business.” And that definition is sufficient for many. In fact, it used to be my definition… until I went to an entrepreneur mastermind event in the U.S. where I met some amazing entrepreneurs.

Their definition of “entrepreneur” was quite different. It wasn’t just “starting or owning your own business.” It was “starting or owning a business that doesn’t need you.”

Taking myself as an example, I’ve started multiple businesses. Some have succeeded; some have not (such is the life of the entrepreneur). But all of my businesses were always dependent on me. I was the most critical, necessary ingredient… if you took me out of the equation, the business would fall apart. In fact, that’s exactly what happened with one of my businesses. It was a great idea, but everything depended on me. When circumstances arose that made it impossible for me to run the company (a long story for another day), the entire business fell apart, and I lost everything I’d put into it.

If you want to be a true entrepreneur, you need a business plan where the first goal is to make yourself absolutely unnecessary to the success of the company.

At the mastermind, several other entrepreneurs immediately jumped on my newest business plan, pointing out that again, the entire plan was built around me. It was dependent on me. And this was a huge problem. As one of them pointed out to me:

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the founder or owner. If the business is dependent on you, then you are just another employee. You are hiring yourself. If you want to be a true entrepreneur, you need a business plan where the first goal is to make yourself absolutely unnecessary to the success of the company.”

Why? Well, consider. What happens if you get sick? Or a family crisis arises that requires you to take an extended time away from your business? Or even if you just want to sell the company later on? If the business is dependent on you, then the moment you leave, the business falls apart, and you lose everything you’ve put into it; and few people will be interested to buy a company that is dependent on your presence.

Somewhat ironically, this is probably one of the most difficult things for an entrepreneur to do. Entrepreneurs tend to have big egos, and want to be in control. Many enjoy the feeling of being essential to the business, a critical part of its success.

But let me ask you… wouldn’t you rather own a company that is not only successful, but it barely needs you? If you want to take six months off and go traveling with your family, you can… confident that the company will continue running just fine without you, and you’ll continue to have a steady stream of profits! Knowing that if emergencies arise, you’ll be able to focus all your attention on those emergencies, and not have to worry about also keeping the business afloat!

Of course, when first starting a business, you are going to be necessary to that business. But right from the beginning, you should be planning to make yourself unnecessary, as soon as possible. This means hiring and training other people to do what you do. It means building strong teams, and giving them the responsibility and ability to make critical decisions on their own. It means letting people make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes (rather than you micromanaging everything that happens).

That feedback I received led to me entirely redesigning my business plan. My original plan had lots of stuff about how to build the company, make profits, grow, etc.; but everything was dependent on me. My new plan, while dependent on me to get started, is focused much more on internal growth and development, with the goal that I’ll become unnecessary to the company’s growth as soon as possible. I’ll still be the owner; I’ll still be making the big decisions, and providing direction on growth; I’ll still have an important role. But the company will be able to function just fine without me, too.

For all entrepreneurs out there (or aspiring entrepreneurs), I’d encourage you to take a similar approach to building your business. It may seem strange, but the most successful company that you can build is a company that doesn’t need you at all!