During infancy, children are highly dependent on their parents. As they grow this changes into a more independent relationship during adolescence, and hopefully matures in a mutually interdependent one. Interdependence is when both parties are dependent on each other, maybe in different ways, but there is a balanced relationship.
Interestingly the same journey and transformation exists in the business world. In the same way children are highly dependent on their parents during their early years, businesses are highly dependent on their owner/founders input. The owner has to provide and nurture the business during this phase of the growth curve.
If the nurturing ‘worked’ and the business has grown, this relationship can develop until the business is less dependant on the owner. This can occur only if the appropriate processes, people and structure has been embedded so that the business operates in the way the founder would like it to even when they are not present. At this stage of the business growth cycle you have created the opportunity to press on to maturity where you get as much back from the business as you put in.
In essence the debt you created during infancy and adolescence starts to get repaid, both in financial terms and the freedom you now have from the business to start explore new ventures and ideas.
Far too often, I see business owners trapped in infancy or adolescence because they have put in place the infrastructure, they haven’t recruited and trained the right people or they haven’t empowered their team to make their own decisions.
These business owners still possess the ‘super hero’ tendency where they feel the need to save the day whenever there is an issue or tough challenge. This behaviour is understandable – it’s tough for parents to watch their teenager make what they consider to be wrong choices during their adolescent years.
Letting other learn by their mistakes is a tough skill to acquire, but if you can hold your nerve and trust that the values you embedded in during infancy will come to the fore, eventually this process can be very rewarding. You get to see for the first time the business standing on it’s own two feet independently of you.
Simply put the reason more businesses don’t reach maturity and get stuck in adolescent is that their owners won’t let them mature. This is all about the owner’s insecurities and their need to be important. What they mistakenly forget is that their business is its own entity and they are more than their business.
Letting go is scary, but if you’ve done the groundwork it’s also tremendously liberating. You can create a new role for yourself, you can focus on the things you love doing and you have the opportunity to transform the way you relate to your business.