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Unexpected Leaves of Absence Can Teach You This…

FILED IN: Behind-the-Scenes, M&G Happenings, Unboxing the Business

Posted By: Jamie Kutchman

Sometimes as a business owner of a curated gifting company you’re forced to take extended leaves of absence that you weren’t planning for. This happened to me this summer when I got word that my Dad had come down with a potentially fatal illness and was in the ICU in a hospital four hours away.

I packed my bags quickly, got on the road, and told my team I didn’t know when I would be back. I ended up being gone for 5 weeks and while it certainly wasn’t ideal, I ended up learning some important business lessons from the experience.

advice for business owners

Must Do vs Nice to Do

If you’re anything like me and you’re a CEO who’s working on the business but also still in the business in certain areas, your to-do list is perpetually long. And this might be okay in normal times but when crisis hits and you’re forced to take a step back, you have to get really clear, really quickly, on what’s a ‘must do’ versus what’s a ‘nice to do’.

Must do’s are things that when undone will cause an actual interruption in business. Nice to do’s are things that propel the business to grow and improve but won’t force day-to-day business operations to be interrupted.

When I put my entire to-do list through this filter, it quickly put things into perspective and minimized my list tremendously. Sure, it wasn’t the best feeling realizing that the things I’m doing these days aren’t exactly essential to the daily goings-on but big picture, that’s the way it’s supposed to be when you scale a business.

Also worth noting that the first time I went through my list, I categorized most everything as a must do. But when the going gets tough and you cannot monitor emails or take calls or be counted on, you quickly learn to reclassify what’s essential, leaving a much smaller list, almost non-existent.

Your Team Will Surprise You

It’s easy to say, “Oh, you should delegate”. But when members of your team already have a lot on their plates or haven’t done whatever it is you’re asking them to do before, it can be downright scary to try and delegate to them and tempting to say, “Oh, I’ll just do it myself”. But you have to give your team chances to stretch outside of their normal role to attempt things that overlap with your role.

While the circumstances aren’t ideal, it is the ideal time to give them the opportunity to stretch. You will be astounded at what they’re able to accomplish!

Test Scalability

One of the biggest and toughest transitions I’ve had to make as a business owner is going from founder to CEO. From the one who literally does everything to the one who is out of the day-to-day and into our forward trajectory.

From working in the business to working on the business. One of the best ways to assess how you’re doing as a business owner in this transition is to be removed from the business completely and see whether or not the business can survive without you.

While it may be tempting to want it to fail without you because of pride, it is ultimately the bigger accomplishment to have a built a business that began with you and now can survive on its own without you. The only way to test your business’ scalability completely is to be completely gone from your business.

I certainly wish that life circumstances don’t catch you off guard and cause you to have to up and leave abruptly. But if they do, which is life sometimes, know that your business can survive and thrive.

Image: Lissa Ryan Photography 
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