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Why is it so hard to step away from your business?

Leadership

2 min read

If you run your own business, you know your role is just as personal as it is professional. You care deeply about the outcomes of your business—the impact it has and the results it creates—so the natural impulse is to put yourself at the center of the action. You work around the clock to ensure that your team is working, customers are being served and goals are being hit, all in the way you want them to.

At some point, this becomes unsustainable. At some point, whether for your own sake or in order to grow a business that’s gotten bigger than you can manage on your own, you realize you need to find a way to allow your business to run without you constantly at the center of every task and decision.

Some business owners struggle to do this because they don’t yet have the people they need to take on certain parts of their role. But what if you do have those people—or you could—and you still find yourself working constantly? For many of our clients, this is usually a sign that there’s something deeper going on—a sense that they’re not ready to let go of being an essential part of operations.

I’d been in the [manager] role for 27 years, and I was surprised by how quickly our loyal long-term customers switched over to working with [my new] managers. My phone virtually doesn’t ring anymore. And you think that’d be a beautiful thing, that you’d be elated, but a small part of me misses being the center of the storm. It’s been a big transition, as strange as that sounds.

Joe Dibbits, EMyth Client and Owner of Dibbits Excavating and Landscape Supply

Being at the “center of the storm” served Joe, however much it overwhelmed him. And he’s not alone. Many business owners feel validated by the tactical work of their business—by coming in at the 11th hour to save the day, by being the only one who knows how to do things. It’s a common—and often unrecognized—source of resistance to adjusting what they know needs to change. 

If this sounds familiar, there’s a clear solution: You need to get that sense of importance and validation from your business in a different way.

Start by being mindful of why you need to be at the center of the action. What purpose does the ringing phone serve for you? Once you have that awareness, then consider different activities that could feed that need. Maybe you simply miss working with your hands or talking directly with customers. That’s okay. You can schedule that time for yourself. Just remember, the real work of the Entrepreneur is strategic. So instead of helping your business at a tactical level, ask yourself how to engage your inner Entrepreneur while still addressing your same need to feel essential. Does that mean going to lunch with other business owners? Attending business development events? Experimenting with different ways to engage with your company so you can discover what fulfilling work looks like for you? If you do this little by little, you’ll lay the groundwork for change, so you can grow your business and meet your own needs at the same time.

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Tricia Huebner

Written by Tricia Huebner

Tricia is EMyth's Director of Coaching. She joined the EMyth team in 2002.

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