How to Make Yourself Redundant as an Entrepreneur

© | Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko

In this article, we will look at 1) why you need to make yourself redundant and 2) how to make yourself redundant as an entrepreneur.


1) How Important Are You?

For many new and small businesses, the step toward making the founder redundant is never taken. The entrepreneur is so used to relying on only himself to make all decisions as well as do most of the work that this thought is never at the forefront. Old habits become very hard to break and it becomes impossible to imagine a situation where the entrepreneur is not an irreplaceable part of the business machinery. Whatever the entrepreneur’s background (accounts, programming, marketing, or creativity) there is a high likelihood of them being essential and overworked.

2) A Difficult Realization

Though it is very hard to come to terms with the realization that you as an entrepreneur have the option of making yourself redundant, it is a vital step toward taking the business further. The key here is to begin to work on the business instead of for the business. This statement is more than a play on words. If you take a step back from the daily grind of running a business, you will have that much more time to spend on planning, strategizing and setting goals for the future and growth of the business. If you do not take this step back, you remain self-employed with many, often overpaid, assistants.

3) Achieving Redundancy

This may be an easier task to accomplish for some business models than others, but if it is achieved, then a self-sustaining robust business can be created. According to Guy Hargreaves, a network marketing professional, there are four key steps that an entrepreneur can take to work toward making themselves redundant to the daily workings of their own business. These are:

  • Hire the right people – This means finding and bringing on board people who share your vision and will fit into the company culture you are trying to foster. Your task then is to show these people a clear vision and step out of the way to allow them to execute.
  • Delegate the actual work to the best people – In order to achieve redundancy, you will need to delegate important tasks to the right people. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the most capable and trustworthy people are delegated to these tasks.
  • Work on their growth – With the right people, you then need to work on their growth and development to make them capable of taking responsibility for the work and outcomes as well as to trust them with major operational decisions.
  • Encourage team members to grow and develop on their own – Along with your work on developing the team, encourage the members to find ways to grow and develop themselves also.

These four steps are explored further in the rest of the article. As a redundant boss, you will have time to think and plan again while your empowered team actually runs the business.

Bad leaders spend the maximum time on the job, micromanaging and pursuing novelty for its own sake until they become a burden on the organization. Good leaders spend the minimum time on the job, but everything they do has a positive effect.“ (Yoshito Hori, President GLOBIS)


Once the entrepreneur has realized the need to make herself redundant and feels that the time is right to do so, the following steps can be taken to ensure that the company is in the right hands.

1) Hiring the Right People

The first key step is to ensure that the right people are brought onboard. Often, the number one mistake cited by entrepreneurs is hiring the wrong person for the job. An employee who is a mismatch with the job requirements or the company culture can end up being a critical mistake. Getting the hiring right in the first go will help the company avoid expensive and time consuming consequences. It will also help the company hit the ground running by filling a gap and completing a team.

An entrepreneur needs to keep the following points in mind when hiring for a position:

  • Understand the Strengths and Culture of the Organization – The smaller the company, the more vital it is to ensure that every single person is the right fit for not only their own job but also the organizational culture as a whole. A good place to begin this understanding is to conduct a strengths assessment for the organization. Much like a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), this assessment can help highlight personality and behavioral traits as well as natural talents that are needed for the business. If the owner of the business is not aware of these strengths and how to leverage them, it will show through in a faulty hiring process. Candidates will not be assessed against correct criteria and required competencies may be missed out.
  • Assess the Candidate’s Practical Experience – Another key point is to assess a candidate’s practical experience according to the skills you need not only at the moment, but also to grow the team and the organization. By assessing future compatibility, the candidate will be able to grow and expand as the company grows and expands.
  • Assess the Candidate’s Specific Strengths – Check whether the candidate in question is strong in the areas needed to perform the job he is being considered for. These strengths should fill any existing gaps in the team to ensure that the full talents of team are leveraged for optimal company performance.
  • Assess the Candidate’s Cultural Fit – This very vital area may be pushed into the background if the company manages to find a candidate with the right skill set and strengths needed for a particular job. However, a fit into the culture of the organization can often make the biggest difference between a strong team member and a weak one. The candidate needs to work well with others and share the same values and goals. The interview process can help identify traits that will show the potential to fit well into the existing culture provided that there is a prior understanding of the key elements that form the culture.

According to Mike Laven, CEO of Currency Cloud, great people make a great company and it’s all about the team. For a new business that may have very little money, a strategy in process, and the beginnings of a product, the right team becomes even more essential. He cites three main points to focus on when bringing on new people.

  • Do They Want to Practice? – The key to finding the right employee isn’t just finding someone who is willing to stay late or work on the weekends. This hard work may just be to impress the boss. Instead, it means finding people who want to practice and not just win the game. In business terms, it will mean an employee who focuses on the fundamentals of the business to get these building blocks right. This may not be the most exciting element of the new business, but it is the one that will lead to the creation of a strong, self-sustaining business.
  • Do They Fit the Culture? – As mentioned briefly above, getting the culture right is an important component of success. This Harvard Business Review article goes so far as to state that culture will trump strategy every time. So any new employee needs to fit in with the existing culture and be passionate about creating a customer base and building up the company.
  • Do They Learn? – With smaller companies with less defined departmental roles and tasks, it is important to assess an employee’s ability to learn rather than what they have worked on in the past. A candidate may have the best résumé, but if they are not able to learn from their jobs and apply it to their current work, then the prior work experience may become useless. Within a job role in a small company, an employee needs to be able to quickly learn from a mistake and rectify it to ensure that it does not happen again.

Tips on Hiring from Richard Branson

Richard Branson is arguably one of the world’s most successful and enigmatic entrepreneurs. He cites hiring employees as one of the most important jobs that an entrepreneur has. His tips include:

  • A great personality goes a long way. A candidate with the right skill set may rub a team the wrong way right out the door. To make sure this does not happen, Branson suggests conducting group interviews to find someone who is fun, friendly and caring.
  • A résumé is just a piece of paper. Apart from some jobs such as a doctor or a scientist, the number of degrees on a résumé may not be the best indicator of suitability.

A person who has multiple degrees in your field isn’t always better than someone who has broad experience and a great personality.

  • When is the right time for someone new? At times, a cozy work environment needs to be shaken up with a new person. The time for this needs to be assessed organically and cannot be planned.

Great hiring takes time and a healthy dose of curiosity. You need to meet a lot of people, ask them about themselves and their careers, and tell them about yourself and your company in turn. So relax and be yourself – the people you eventually choose are, after all, going to play big parts in your shared adventure of building a business.

2) The Importance of Delegating

Entrepreneurs will often find themselves bogged down by the overwhelmingly huge pile of work involved in running a new business. To find more hours in the day to finish more work, entrepreneurs need to delegate responsibly to their teams. Some of the excuses for failure to delegate given by entrepreneurs include:

  • I’m too busy to take the time to delegate/train a team member
  • I’m too busy to explain tasks or projects
  • I’m the only person who can do the job right
  • I’m the most responsible person for the job
  • If I delegate, I’ll lose control

With excuses such as these, work piles up, there is a back log and those tasks that actually require the entrepreneur’s attention get lost in busywork. On the other hand, people with a great skill set and experience will be sitting around doing nothing to earn their salaries. Employees who are motivated and energized will lose interest, and dissatisfaction and lack of productivity will become endemic.

The way to avoid this situation is to delegate responsibly by giving opportunities to employees who are interested in learning new skills, gaining knowledge and connecting with the organization. This delegation can become an important tool for motivating employees. These motivated employees mean a productive organization.

How to Delegate

With the importance of delegation established, there are some important points to keep in mind while doing so.

  • Identify the best person for the job – The best person for the task of delegation may not be the most experienced or most knowledgeable, but one who is motivated and eager to learn. This person demonstrates the potential to be able to handle more responsibility. This person can be identified by getting to know all your employees in depth, their strengths and challenges as well as their interests.
  • Clearly identify project goals and key steps – Once the person has been selected, make sure that you explain the project goals and steps required to be performed in detail. Ask pointed questions such as “What part of the process will you take care of first?”, “What will you require additional resources for?”, “What part is unclear?”
  • Establish clear milestones and deadlines – Most entrepreneurs are used to setting their own milestones and achieving them, so they may not realize that a person new to the task may need some clearer direction. Ensure that they have clearly defined and understood milestones with reporting structures in place. This will allow the project to stay on track and the entrepreneur to stay on top of the project.
  • Provide frequent feedback – A beginner will need to receive balanced feedback on a regular basis. This means both positive and negative feedback to ensure that they know how they stand and whether they are meeting deadlines and timelines as well as expectations.
  • Review progress on completion – Once the project is completed, take the time to review progress with the employee who was in charge. This will help identify best practices as well as those steps which may need to be changed or modified for next time. It will also allow the boss to see how much capacity the employee has to learn and grow.

What Not to Delegate

Knowing what to delegate and when is vital to ensuring an entrepreneur’s redundancy from the business. However, there are always a few keys tasks that need to be performed by the business owner herself. These key tasks determine how the organization will grow and function and should not be entrusted to possibly untried and less experienced individuals.

  • Strategic Vision and Values – It is the head of an organization that can properly provide vision and direction to the company. Without this direction, the company will not be able to function and move forward cohesively, despite a promising idea and product.
  • Brand Positioning – It is the head of the organization that needs to study the market and understand the company’s product offering in detail. Often, entrepreneurs are the ones with clear ideas in this area. The details of this positioning may require expert term members to step in, but a general direction should be provided by the head.
  • Hiring – Since finding the right people at the onset helps set the tone for the organization, it may be a good idea to keep the hiring in the domain of the entrepreneur. This could be limited to the key team members or senior officials for the company. The vital element here is to make sure that the new hires fit into the culture and vision of the company.
  • Firing – Difficult decisions, when it comes to employees, are never anyone’s favorite task to perform. But having a CEO address this in keeping with HR guidelines and practices can help the company better understand what went wrong and how hiring practices can be improved.

3) Team Growth And Development

The last two factors for effectively making yourself redundant are to ensure that team development and growth remain a key focus for both the entrepreneur and the team itself. This will help the company and team grow together and keep pace with new developments and turns a company may take.

When developing a management team and equipping them to handle operations, it is vital to understand that most of them will need some support and training to fill their new roles in the right way. Some of these people may require formal training, while others may need mentoring and support.

Some ways in which teams can be supported in their path to development include:

  • Have a yearly training budget dedicated to helping the team upgrade and augment their existing skills.
  • Establish mentoring and coaching programs to help people proactively pursue these endeavors.
  • Establish job rotation and cross-training programs to give employees insight into all areas of the business.
  • Help set learning goals for the employees for both personal ambitions and professional skills.

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