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Let Go! It's Great for Business

To help your business run smoother, sometimes you just have to step back.
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Years ago, in the early days of the Internet, my team and I were launching a company under the Priceline.com umbrella called Priceline YardSale.

One day, I went to check on my Development team, who informed me they were doing a code review. I should come back, they said, so I walked to the Operations department to see if they needed any help.  They, too, were running an operations update and suggested I take the afternoon off. I smiled, but inside I was hurt. 

I'm the CEO and founder, I thought. Wasn't I important? What had gone wrong?

As I sat in my office sulking, three of my VPs walked in and consoled me. I shouldn't be sad, they said. I should be celebrating! They reminded me that my goal all along had been to construct a well-oiled machine--to hire smarter people than me in every area and build a team so competent they could work just fine without me. I knew they were right.

Your role as a CEO, a founder, or a small business owner is to design yourself out of the picture. You don't have to leave, you just have to hire people better than you in the areas you're lacking. Think of your employees as a baseball team. You may be a great hitter, but the odds are good that you aren't the best hitter, the best fielder, or the best pitcher on your team.

If decisions can't be made in your company without your involvement, you'll eventually become the bottleneck. The day that you truly can go play golf and everything runs smoothly at your company is indeed a day to celebrate. Try it sometime.

If your phone rings off the hook and everyone needs you all the time, you have not built a scalable and efficient company. Your goal is to reach the day where everyone on your team knows what needs to be done--and is good at doing it.

Last updated: Sep 5, 2013

JEFF HOFFMAN | Columnist | Co-founder, ColorJar

Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of ColorJar, is a serial entrepreneur who was on the founding teams of Priceline.com and uBid.com. He is also a frequent public speaker on the topics of innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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