How I Replaced Myself in My Business

July 14, 2019

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England, Vacation, Buckingham Palace

How would you feel after coming back from a 21 day excursion to Europe only to find that upon returning, everything was business as usual? No backlogs, no bottlenecks, nothing. No emergencies or fires to put out. You would feel pretty good right?

Would you believe me if I told you that it’s possible to do?

A couple of years ago, my partner and I took a three-week vacation to Great Britain and Ireland. We completely went off the grid. No email or work at all. We were fully present and soaking up all things English, Scottish and Irish!

Most business owners would have to put their business, income, and projects on hold when they go on a vacation. They couldn’t imagine that their business would grow and run itself without their presence.

What’s the secret sauce?

Systems and documentation.

When you have systems in place, you can take a vacation without any worry. When you also have amazing co-workers and people that you can trust, vacationing becomes even more fun.

That trip was an incredible experience and I enjoyed every minute of it guilt-free. I want you to be able to do the same, guilt-free, and have the same experience.

It took me a while to figure it out. After years of stressing over never having time off and thinking that I was the only one that could make the “important” decisions, I finally realized that was no way to live! To be honest, there’s a bit of truth that the business probably couldn’t have run without me at the time.

A mentor once told me that if you can delegate a task to someone in your organization that is paid less than you, then you must figure out how to hand off that task!

Ding! Talk about a light bulb moment. 💡I realized that there were tasks that I still managed daily, weekly and monthly from when our company was much smaller, that I shouldn’t have been managing. When our company was smaller, I was the only one that could do those tasks. Now that I had more employees, others could easily perform those tasks.

It’s the difference between working on your business vs. working in your business. We’re Business Owners, not Business Operators. In the beginning, we’re both but as your company grows, you must adapt and move into working on your business if you ever want to scale it while keeping your sanity.

So, where did I start? I started by documenting processes, specifically the ones that were solely my responsibility. In order for me to peel off some of those tasks, I knew I was going to have to take time to teach others how to do them.

I didn’t want to have to teach and re-teach those tasks so I documented the processes in a variety of ways. Most of them I typed up in a step by step process. I also used a faster way, I used screen recording software. This is especially great for tasks that you perform on your computer.

All you have to do is just press record, perform the task on your computer and presto, you have a video recording of how you just performed the task!

Now, you can easily send a link of the video to anyone that needs to be trained and you’re done. I use Camtasia for Mac, but you could also use Snagit which will easily get the job done and is probably easier to use! Plus, it’s cheaper.

Here’s an example of what this looks like:

Even if you’re an employee, replacing yourself is key to your success! Why? Well, it’s normally a requirement for getting promoted. If there’s someone available that can easily step into your position, then that frees you to step into the next one. In addition, if you’re out sick or on vacation, it’s great to have someone that can easily take over your workload so you’re not swamped when you return.

Whether you run a business or not, you should always be thinking about replacing yourself. If you’re not thinking about it, it won’t happen.

Starting today, I want you to start thinking about how you can replace yourself.

Here’s a simple way to to get started:

Look at your to-do list for the week. Is there anything on that list that someone else on your team can easily do for you? Is it paying a bill, ordering supplies, making a recurring journal entry in your accounting software? Maybe it’s scheduling one on ones in Google Calendar or running reports and setting goals for next month?

What’s one process on your to-do list that you can document using a word document or google doc? Do that right now and don’t spend more than 20 minutes doing it. Start small and work your way up to adding more and more tasks. In no time you’ll be freeing up all kinds of time on your schedule. I keep all of my processes stored in Evernote. This makes it easier for me to share those processes with others on my team.

Something else to remember is that replacing yourself is a process that takes time. It might very well take you a couple of years before you are able to take a long trip without any issues.

Again, it’s a process. Every time you step away, even if it’s just for one day it’s like a stress-test for your business. The more you stress-test your business the faster you will end up replacing yourself.  Plan a few small trips along the way and measure your progress.  You’ll know you’re succeeding when you come back to work and there are no major issues. 

And here’s the best part, the sooner you can move from being a business operator to a business owner, the more value you can add to your business, your clients, and everyone else involved.

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  1. Lititia Thomas

    July 17th, 2019 at 3:04 am

    Good read. Appreciate you sharing and completely agree. How do you handle employees that expect you to be onsite all the time?

  2. Chris Murphy

    July 19th, 2019 at 12:11 am

    With three locations, my employees really don’t expect me to be onsite all the time. They understand that I can’t possibly be. However, I am very hands on and like to maintain a presence so that my staff knows that I’m engaged. While I don’t keep a regular salon location rotation schedule, I do try to spend at least one day a week in each location to make myself available. Additionally, I’ve set expectations with my staff to report to their manager if they need attention. That’s why I hired her.

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Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy