Engineer Your Company to Run Without You

5 ways for Owners & CEOs to set up their manufacturing business to succeed

By Bill Wermager, MBA. PMP

Some business owners focus on growing their profits, while others are obsessed with sales goals. Have you ever considered making it a goal to structure your business to run without you?

A business not dependent on its owner is the ultimate asset to own. Not only does it allow you complete control over your time, it allows you to pick and choose the projects you get involved in and the vacations you take. When it comes to selling, a business independent of its owner is worth significantly more than an owner-dependent company.

Here are five ways to engineer your business so that it can succeed without you.

1. Give Them a Stake In The Results

Jack Stack, the author of The Great Game of Business and A Stake In The Outcome, wrote the book on creating ownership culture inside your company. Being transparent about your financial results and allowing employees to participate in your financial success results in employees who act like owners even when you’re not around.

2. Ask Them to Walk In Your Shoes

If you’re not quite comfortable disclosing the content of your company’s books to your workforce, consider a simple management technique where you respond to every question your staff brings you with, “If you owned the company, what would you do?” By asking your employees to walk in your shoes, it builds the habit of starting to think like an owner. Pretty soon, employees should be able to solve their own problems.

3. Examine Your Offerings

Identify the products and services which require your personal involvement in manufacturing, delivering or selling. Compile a list of everything you sell and score each on a scale of 0 to 10 on how easily they could be transferred to an employee to handle. Mark those offerings that are easy to teach employees a “10” to offerings and give lower scores to anything that requires your personal attention. Commit to discontinuing the lowest scoring product or service on your list. Repeat this exercise every quarter.

4. Produce Automatic Customers

Are you the best salesperson in your business? If so, you’ll need to replace yourself as your company’s rainmaker in order to get it to run without you. One way to do this is to construct a recurring revenue business model where customer purchases are automatic. Consider creating a service contract with your customers that fulfills their ongoing needs on a regular basis.

5. Create an Instruction Manual For Your Company

Finally, make sure your company comes with instructions included. Create an employee manual or a Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These are a set of rules employees can follow for repetitive tasks in your company. This will ensure employees have general directions they can follow when you’re not around, and, when a new employee starts, you can quickly get them up to speed on company processes and procedures.

You-proofing your manufacturing business has significant benefits. Not only will your business be scalable and more valuable, it will allow you the freedom and flexibility you deserve as a business owner.



Bill Wermager is a Business Advisor with Resultants For Business (RFB), a nontraditional business advisory firm serving owners and their teams as a catalyst for breakthrough growth.  Bill’s diverse experience includes owning, operating and running businesses across a variety of industries; ranging in size from Fortune 50 companies to small start-ups. He works with business owners, management teams and entrepreneurs, helping them achieve their vision - ultimately, getting what they want for themselves, their employees and their customers.