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Summit Insights
Sep, 22

Owner Dependency


How to Fire Yourself


You’re irreplaceable, indispensable, and unique. You’re also one of the most stressful parts of your business. As the owner, you make all the critical decisions and bear all the risks. There is no department head or VP to blame if something goes wrong — it’s all on you.

The owner often plays the role of both the company’s greatest asset and weakest link. If anything were to happen to you, your business would be unable to operate effectively. Your company can only thrive if you take steps to reduce your dependence on yourself without compromising your long-term interests or overextending yourself in the process. Read on for some helpful tips for reducing your business’s dependence on yourself so it remains healthy and sustainable even in times of duress.

Master the Triangle Offense

Many fans, experts, and pundits claim that the triangle offense is the optimal way for five players to space the floor on the basketball court. I happen to be among them, as my beloved Chicago Bulls used the triangle offense to win six championships in the 90s.

The core of most business activities can fall into three categories, “Commercial, Operations, and Administration.” In the early stages of a business, the owner covers all of these functions. As the business grows, the owner adds resources but continues to have sole accountability for the triangle.

To reach the maximum potential of the business, the owner must determine which leg of the triangle represents their zone of genius and look to onboard leaders for the remaining spots.

At the core of every person is their “zone of genius,” the natural strengths and talents that make each of us unique. Identifying and leveraging your zone of genius can help you maximize your strengths and reduce the stress you feel.

Document Your Processes

The more complicated and specialized your business becomes, the more critical it is to document processes and procedures, including those of the owner. Doing so helps ensure your business continues to operate smoothly even in the event of your absence, illness, or other unforeseen circumstance and can help reduce your reliance and make delegation and succession more effective.

Hire People Better Than You

When hiring people, one of the first mistakes we make is not ensuring they share the organization’s core values. The second most common practice is hiring people that can do today’s work. Another approach is to look at most additions as an opportunity to upgrade skills and, in some cases, candidates that the company can eventually grow to their level.

Leverage Part-time and Outside Resources

As your business grows, it will become more and more challenging to hire full-time employees. During these times, looking at part-time employees, independent contractors, or a 3rd party firms may be a better solution. These services can fill a void, close talent gaps, and bring best-in-class process improvements.

Master Delegate for Development

One of the most difficult challenges I faced was mastering delegations. I often wanted to measure success on how well one followed the prescribed process I successfully developed. Another more “time-consuming” approach is to define the expected outcome and share lessons learned. On the other end of the spectrum is where I dumped that which we hate doing with minimal direction or guidance.

My success came when I began to think of delegation as an opportunity to challenge further and develop a high potential employee. Please provide them with the tools they need to succeed and the freedom to plot their path with mutually defined checkpoints. This way, you build trust and avoid dumping and hovering.


Business owners have an enormous amount of responsibility. To reduce the stress you experience and ensure that your business is sustainable, you’ll want to take steps to reduce your dependence on yourself. Doing so will allow you to take advantage of other people’s strengths and expertise and protect your interests in the event of illness or other unforeseen circumstances. By working in your zone of genius, documenting your processes, hiring people better than you, leveraging independent contractors, and mastering delegation, you can decrease your reliance on yourself and reduce the stress you experience.

Darren Cherry is an Area President for FocusCFO based in Columbus, OH. Darren is also an Exit Strategy Consultant certified through the Exit Planning Institute.