Management vs. ownership

Columns - Business Minds

Concentrate on the strategic ownership issues and hire people with complementary skills to your own to handle the rest.

February 16, 2015

Many business owners believe that they should have an answer for every question and a solution for every problem regarding their business. After all they are the owner. However, just because you own the business does not make you the font of all knowledge.

One way to get away from this mindset is to recognize the difference between management issues and ownership issues. Management issues are the daily, weekly and monthly things that must be done to ensure the smooth running of the business. This ranges from staffing the business to cope with seasonal variations to stock control to taking orders and chasing up debts. All of the daily processes that you need for the successful operation of the business come under management issues. If these are executed effectively, then your business will make a profit and you will be able to pay dividends to the shareholders and also reinvest in the business.

Ownership issues are the things that only an owner can do. They tend to be more strategic and might include dealing with the bank or finance company to make sure that the business has enough capital to grow. Negotiating on suitable freehold or leasehold premises for the business to operate out of. Maintaining relationships with other owners or investors in the business. Deciding on future strategy and creating a compelling vision of the future. Last but most importantly looking for talented people with great attitudes to join the business and help to serve your customers. Without great people it is difficult to differentiate your business from your competition, so this should be a high priority for any owner.

If you can focus on your strengths and do what you are passionate about, while surrounding yourself with people who have complementary skills to your own, then you will be amazed how much better the business will perform and how much more fun you will have, too.

A great example of this was a guy called Bob. He ran a small hardware store in a rural town in Colorado. Bob was an amazing sales person and just loved meeting new people and talking about all the different products in his store. He showed a genuine interest in helping people to find exactly what they were looking for and at a price they could afford. He was so good at doing this that his business grew for five years consecutively. Then Bob found himself doing more administration in his small office and less selling. His business stopped growing and he became miserable and started dreading going to work in the morning.

Finally, one morning his wife said to him, “Honey what are you doing? Why don’t you go out and hire someone else to do the paperwork so that you can get back to selling?”

Thankfully after the pep talk from his wife, that is exactly what Bob did. He started spending more time selling again and meeting his customers face to face. The business made more money and Bob had a lot more fun.

Just remember one thing: Once you have taken the time to go out and find great people to work for your business, don’t meddle with their jobs. If you do meddle, your employees will either not perform to their best ability or get frustrated and leave. Learn to trust your people to do a good job and become more of a coach and mentor rather than a micro-manager. Let them make mistakes and learn from them so that they can grow into the job and ultimately be a more valuable employee.

Put your ego to one side, concentrate on the strategic ownership issues and hire people with great attitudes and complementary skills to your own. If you can do this, your business will perform better and, like Bob, you will have more fun.


Richard J. Bryan shares how he's applied creative strategies to articulate a crystal-clear vision, hire the right people, forge a dynamic team, and build a profitable business. Richard is a leadership speaker, author and business coach.