As an entrepreneur, there are many times you wish you could clone yourself. No one knows your business better than you do and no one can run your business better than you can. But when you’ve decided to open that second or third location, trying to do it all by yourself is not only an exhausting proposition, it’s dangerous to the health of your business.
So how do you find the right person to represent you and your vision? And how do you pass on your vision, yet still give your new manager the freedom to contribute his or her unique vision to the success of your company? Delegating this much responsibility certainly starts with hiring the right person, but it ends with trusting the new “you” to make the right decisions for the good of the business.
Don’t overlook your employees. Could your new manager for your new location be right under your nose? Promoting from within is not only a great morale booster for the whole company, it’s also a great recruitment tool for future employees. (“Yes, Joe, the manager, started here as an assistant.”) Pay close attention to what other employees think of your potential manager. Does he or she have an innate sense of leadership? Do others go to him or her for advice? Is the person interested in the inner operations of the company and how you run it? These are all signs of a good team player and possibly someone to take over your new venture.
All in the family. Do you have a family business and have someone in mind to run the next arm of the branch? As everyone who owns a family business knows, the pros and cons are vast. Promoting a family member to run your next location can be a sticky situation, but it doesn’t have to be. Just make sure you’re promoting based on the same principles you would if the person wasn’t a family member. If you feel cousin Sam isn’t going to adhere to the vision and principles that made your business successful in the first location, then definitely don’t put Sam in charge of the new store.
Going outside the company. Handing over the reins of your new location to a complete stranger sounds scary and takes a lot of research. Why this person? Don’t go on pure gut feeling. Talk to lots and lots of people. The person could be a master salesperson who tells you just what you want to hear. Talk not only to coworkers, but your candidate’s customers. If you don’t want to leave it all up to yourself, hire an outside consultant for expertise and a second point of view.
Passing on your vision. It goes without saying this is not a small task, nor can it be accomplished on the fly. The process should start way before you even contemplate opening another location. In any case, the new “you” should be with you every step of the way in order to learn and observe how and why you make the decisions you do. Let this person into your head. Whatever you do, do not hire a yes man, or yes woman, or anyone who just tells you what you want to hear. You may not think you have a huge ego, but hearing the new “you” question what you’ve already done or suggest another way of handling something, can be difficult at first. However, those independent judgment calls are exactly what you want to hear!
Hiring in other states. Realize that if your next location is in another state, there’s a whole new set of labor laws with which you’ll have to contend. Issues such as child labor laws, meal break requirements, payment of overtime, classification of employees as salaried or hourly, disability and leave laws, and state disability payments, are just a few of the laws you’ll need to know. Start at the U.S. Department of Labor Web site for direction. Also visit the Small Business Administration Web site. For specific regulations and updates in local laws, go to that state’s labor and workforce development agency.
Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media (www.growbizmedia.com), a content and consulting company that provides information, advice, and resources to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.