• Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Creating a business that runs without you


Here’s a quick question, “for how long can you get the result you get, for how long can you afford the things you can now, or the lifestyle you live if you stopped doing what you currently do?”

You can divide your effort for multiplied results. It’s possible to do more with less time. Anything less than that is hustle; too operationally working “in” your business than working “on” your business.  There’s a huge difference between hustling to get by, between even success, significance, achievement and truly building sustenance (structure/system). Anyone can succeed, as a one off. But to keep it going, there are steps to it.

Achievement comes to someone when he is able to do great things for himself.

Success comes when he empowers people to do great things with him.

Significance comes when he develops people to do great things for him, but legacy, institutions and a system is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without him.

An institution is a system designed to outlive the founder. And systems run on processes. A system is a set of processes that can run without you. As your business grows, you’ll need to build systems and processes that can be automated as much as possible. You’ll need to build distribution systems, investment systems, marketing systems, customer relationship and support systems, research and development systems, effectiveness and performance measurement and improvement systems, accounting and hiring systems, and many others.

Systems are rules, policies, and procedures that on boarded and trained individuals can repeat as your company grows and run independent of you.

A system is a set of processes that can run without you. A system in one word is interdependence. It is a set of independent units working to achieve a common goal. As your business grows, you’ll need to build systems and processes that can be automated as much as possible. You’ll need to build production, inventory, marketing sales and distribution systems for consistent supply. You’d need to brand, identify and know your market while keeping up with the times and competition through research and development systems. To manage revenue, expense and cash flow, you’d need to have an accounting system. In the middle of all of these comes people. This means that you’d have to have a human resource system with the functions of HR Planning and people management through selection and recruitment of the right people with the right roles. That is putting people in the right positions. If you don’t train them, you can’t blame them so there has to be a process for training and development. And you’d have to measure their performance through appraisals. That funnels into their compensations like salary, rewards, sanctions etc.

It’s not out of context to bear risk in mind; identify, know and attempt to mitigate where it cannot be avoided. You’d need a set of templates for crisis management, you also need to keep your team in loop with it, to notify customers when your product is not working, to review the operations of your business, to gain and collect feedback on your product, to do expense planning and financial planning and pay for purchases; to pay salaries through payroll, to determine how happy your customers are; to implement a net promoter score for your customers, to handle vacation requests for your employees, to manage requests for proposals (RFPs); and so on. You’ll need systems for setting up your hardware, for providing tax documentation, legal contracts, and full 360 feedback to your employees, for communicating internally and externally. These are just a few examples of the hundreds or thousands of systems that will be running in complex, large organizations.

In the startup or entrepreneurial phase, avoid bureaucracy, try to be light on formal systems. You just need to have the minimal necessary amount of efficient systems that run smoothly. As you grow, you can put in place more complex processes.

During your first year in business, your success is really about what you personally do and the product you build. After the first year in business, your success is determined more by the people you hire than by you. After the first year, or even the first few months, stop trying to do everything. None of us is as smart as all of us. Delegate. Hire smart people and help them put systems in place so that things happen even when you’re not there. Let’s look at a few key things you must set in place on your way to building a system.

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  1. Define your purpose, vision, mission and objectives of the organization. Define and have a set of core values (you can use key words) that everyone lives by and funnels all their actions through that will form the culture. Immerse yourself and others into it. Create experiential touch points for this, it will form what drives everyone and much later the identity and culture.
  2. Narrow the services you offer. Less is more.
  3. Brand appropriately. Let your brand be inspired by your target market.  Start from market identification, and the. segmentation, to specialization and then concentration in that order.


  1. Define the tasks and operations per product line/service and create departments for each. Get each department to be manned by a head. From here you can draw up a more effective organogram.
  2. Break each operations into tasks, and document each operation into a series of steps. Each of these documents forms your S.O.P (Standard Operating Procedures) per task.
  3. Create a good communication management plan. Let daily reports be sent through the heads of each departments from bottom up. And then an executive summary weekly with a monthly appraisal based on the achievements and shortcomings. For the sake of structure and organization, let no one break this. Ensure there are laid our rules on penalties and actions for any broken accord and institutionalize it. Don’t sweaty the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.
  4. Now to you, begin to train new sets of new talents. Then pair them up with heads off department while you mentor them.
  5. Create specific roles and delegate as much as you can (be aware they may make mistakes at first, but if they have aptitude and you believe in them, they’ll get better).
  6. Compliance is key.  As much as it’s important to make people enjoy their work and have a good time working with you, you have to run that side to side with some discipline. This is best when you communicate thoroughly so they know why what has to be done has to be done.  Hire someone who’s disciplined, effective, autocratic (result oriented) and thorough for the position of a control person. His role is to be a watchdog, the one that barks and bites! In other words, have a strong compliance system headed by a compliance person in place.


For most businesses, it’s not the lack of strategy that is the problem, but the inability to follow through. There just seems to be no structure for it. The truth is, business plans and operational documents like job descriptions, intended corporate culture, brand promises and Standard Operating Procedures, even when defined, written down and assigned might still not be followed through except there is a strong compliance mechanism. So you need a compliance system. Everyone’s work they say is nobody’s work, so someone (or a department depending on how big your organization is) has to be held responsible.  And then monitored through an external system I will refer to as the advisory board. The same way a marketer is placed on target, and may be fired when that target is not met, is the same way a compliance person has to be put on ground with a target to query, suspend and even fire anyone (from the bottom up, including you, even if you’re the CEO) if not met.


The compliance manager reserves the right to query and even suspend anyone in the firm, even if the person is above him/her in organizational hierarchy. In turn he reports only to the CEO and the board. And you don’t have to be a conglomerate to set it up. You can.


  1. Slightly begin to step away from the operations and work on ONLY closing strategic  deals. As your business grows, reduce your role as a CEO to just two things, Strategy and networking.
  2. As a leader, set the bar high. Communicate and celebrate your little wins and victories with the teams. Allow room for feedback. Make great memories with them and show them that you truly care. Reach for their hearts before you reach for their hands.
  3. Now, start to think of your successor. And consciously think of it; invest in the next generation of your firm.
  4. Learn to take short vacations. This will help you test whether your organization can run without you. Start with the end in mind. Prepare your organisation for your exit.

I hope this helps on how to create a structure and system that can work without you eventually. I look forward to working with you.


Eizu Uwaoma