When is it time for a founder to leave or to hang up the gloves and move to one side or move on completely?
I am often asked this very complex question and can answer this in many ways, but I suppose the easiest way to answer the question is by looking at the question itself and why it was asked? If people within the organization believe you should leave, retire, or step down, you have reached the end of the line for that business – not in life and not being an entrepreneur or businessman, just the end of the road leading the company that you started.
Why do I say this? well, think about it logically and not emotionally. If your team (and I mean several or more, not one individual) can not see the way forward or feel you are holding the company from moving forward, then or less you go extreme and replace the whole company team which will be detrimental long term for the business and costly, plus does not solve the problem of why they felt the way they did which is probably based on business performance and not personal.
The best thing for you is to show professionalism and how good you are to move aside or leave the business in the capable hands of the team you actually built. The trouble here is that often a founder or founders will feel they know what is best for a company after years of operating, the natural reaction is to fight back and ruffle the chest feathers, and when that happens, decline occurs through the business. You enter a spiral of poor decisions, fake visions, jump from products, different changing strategy and the result will be the company’s failure in a long slow, painful decline. In most cases, the outcome could have been avoided but for the stubbornness of the founder/founders.
So what signs should you as an entrepreneur should look for in your performance?
- Lack of hours that you are contributing to the business vision and drive.
- Going through the motions of your daily work but not having the passion.
- Feeling it is your right to run the business as you founded the company, rather than letting others take the strain.
- I am changing direction often or being unable to multi-task essential decisions.
- Seeing the business stagnate or decline in turnover.
- Stress from just not keeping up!
- Taking a large salary but not actually contributing to the business anymore, so basically becoming a liability.
These might all sound obvious, but I have seen in my career several times and also advised others that this does happen. Personally, as a founder and entrepreneur, I am always conscious of my performance. I do not want to become the drunk punch fighter in a boxing ring that lives on past achievements but really should have stopped years previously. I would instead encourage and energize others to succeed from me and help them so I can become that father figure in the business instead of the dictator founder.
Knowing your weaknesses and addressing these will allow you to evolve much more and enable your business to succeed.