Reducing reliance on you – why your business is not your baby

Liz Jackson writes: In summer 2022, I was asked to take part in the popular BBC CEO Secrets series, where business leaders offer high-level insights and advice in a short video format.

When we were chatting, producer Dougal Shaw – the prime mover behind the series – latched onto my comment that business owners should never refer to their business as their “baby”, with all the emotional and personal commitment that phrase implies.

We hear the expression all the time from business owners: “This company is my baby, my responsibility…” I thought my advice was just obvious common sense, but Dougal told me it wasn’t something he’d explored before, and wanted me to focus on the idea.

Being too attached to your business can bring with it a tendency to micromanagement. Just like babies, your business has to grow up.

I was delighted with the video – and the response it got – but of course, it’s quite difficult to cram everything you want to say into a 90-second snippet.

In this video, I thought I’d expand my thoughts a little more. Emotional attachment to your business is understandable. Of course we all feel passionate about any company in which we’ve invested so much personally and professionally.

But the flip side is that being too attached to your business can bring with it a tendency to micromanagement, and failing to see the bigger picture. In some cases – as our former clients tell us – if you as the owner are too involved in the day to day, you could actually be holding your business back. Just like babies, businesses have to grow up.

It’s easier said than done, but you have to do what’s best for the business, not what feels best for you. The goal for every business owner has to be simple: reduce dependence on you, empower your team, take a step back and think strategically about the long-term future. Only this way can you take your business from good to great.