This post could also be called, Creating an Organization that Lasts Beyond Your Involvement or Building a Company that Continues After You've Retired. The general point is this: Your specific skills, talents, and ability to innovate are only valid for as long as you have the capacity to work in that position.
The minute you decide to retire, phase yourself out, step into a less-intensive role, or cash out, your participation ceases to exist, and you'd better hope that you have procedures and systems in place that allow the company/business/organization to continue on, without your specific involvement.
The six best ways to organize this include:
1) Early on, consider what your exit plan will be.
Envision what will happen to your entrepreneurial venture, your startup business, or your grassroots nonprofit if you are no longer there. What's the exit plan you're anticipating, if any? The "Founder Effect" plays a huge role in startup and micro businesses and can dictate — positively or negatively — the entire ethos and "spirit" of this endeavor.
As soon as possible, consider how you might write yourself out of the equation and not become such a "point person" for the company. Consider what you'll need to do to slowly ease yourself out, even if you just started the company. One day you may want to cash out or reduce your hours – what will that look like? Who will be in charge? How will there be accountability? Who will be responsible for making decisions?
2) Clarify and put it in writing.
Develop a mission and vision statement and formally adopt it. Lay out the ideal organizational chart and recruit people to fill those roles. Convert your knowledge into actionable items like policy manuals, questionnaires/forms, or standard operating procedures. Train your people according to your standard. Use video and written manuals as much as possible. When you keep your overall process consistent, it makes it easier for all levels of employees to conform.
3) Find, build, motivate, and strengthen your team.
If you are all alone, consider what will happen if you get "hit by a bus." While macabre, it's a valid scenario. The quicker you recruit good people to fill your key positions, the quicker you can start training them to have a sense of ownership of the company. Cut out the fat and focus on the high performers. The first 8 employees can make or break the company's success.
If you have not yet done so already, consider moving from loose association or sole proprietorship status into a LLC, S-Corporation, 501 ( c ) ( 3), or C-Corporation. LegalZoom.com has some great resources to help you do this. Once you have formal standing as a stand-alone organization through an FEIN number and being registered with your state, you can get articles of incorporation, a mailbox, a bank account, and even a rental space in the name of the organization. No more having to hold all the paper, or sift through the files, on your own. You also can legitimately take on partners or other shareholders to split the work.
5) Get professional advice.
A business coach, attorney or legal team, and financial planner or tax advisor can help you determine the best way to structure your organization for the best benefit to you, your family, and the company itself. Don't go it alone – find people who are willing to help and hire the best you can afford. You'll save time, heartache, and mistakes, and you'll gain a friend who can help your team grow.
6) Expand your knowledge.
Get as much information as possible from your local SCORE, NAWBO, Green Chamber of Commerce, BALLE Chapter, or other mentorship and networking organization. There are two kinds of knowledge: one that you already know, and the other that you need to seek out. By having people available who can help with specific questions, challenges, and issues, you make your long-term and short-term planning much easier. You can choose to be proactive instead of reactive.
If you are a sustainble, eco-friendly seller, apply to become a seller at her luxury green online marketplace TheGreaterEquator.com.