Groom Your Replacement

“But I don’t want a replacement”, you say. Well, maybe you will after you read this article.

Would you genuinely like to change the way you spend your business day? Is the business running you or are you running it? Are you doing jobs yourself that someone else could do because you want to hold down expenses? Or are you concerned that no one else will do the jobs as well as you?

What if you could not only delegate, but you could duplicate yourself? That means having another person who is able to manage your business in your absence. If you have aspirations of growing your business, this is a critical element of preparation. Growth always puts an additional strain on the person in charge, so you’ll want someone who can replace you in as many areas of day to day operations as possible.

The key is “mentoring” – taking a carefully selected individual and immersing him or her in your philosophy and experiences. Ideally this person is your second in command. Up to this time it may have been just you or it may have been someone with a title, but undefined responsibility.

When you decide you are really ready to gain some freedom for yourself, you’ll want to start looking for the right person to whom you can give authority to make daily decisions.

Think about what you do and organize it by activity:

Providing Services/ Producing Product
Information gathering and review
Personnel organization and interaction
Decision making
Customer Service
Problem Solving
Look for the right person to whom you can give some authority to make daily decisions. This person may already be an employee or in your supply line somewhere. Think of who you know that has these skills or might have the potential to learn them. You probably won’t find anyone who fills all the slots as well as you’d like, but come as close as you can. If the person’s not already on board, recruit with the specific intent of mentoring the individual–and get their agreement. Plan to delegate to someone else in your organization any area of responsibility not covered by your mentee.

Choosing the right person is the most important step. Look at the person’s style as well as their skills. Trust must be a basic element of the relationship, so make sure you can have confidence in the individual’s ability to respond appropriately in any situation.

Find someone who both wants a mentor and can become passionate about your mission. Share your intent with your mentee. As you interact with this person on a regular basis, keep your plan in mind. Start by allowing your mentee to take on small assignments and be responsible for the outcome. Reward success and help him learn from failure. Give permission to make a few mistakes. By building on the complexity and importance of the decisions involved, you’re increasing the odds of success.

Whether you aspire to gain more time for growing your business, developing a new product or pursuing your personal interests, consider becoming a mentor and gain the freedom of having a replacement.

The true test comes when you can take that 2 week vacation and really not worry about business. Now that’s freedom. At this point you can redefine your job. Your role can take on more planning, directing strategy and true decision-making. If that’s what you aspire to — consider becoming a mentor and developing the person who will replace you in the day to day management of your business.


Identify the roles you play in your business. Decide which of these can be handed off to a “replacement” so you can gain the time you want and need to lead your business. Then set a goal-date for identifying and reaching agreement with the right person.

Those who mentor usually gain as much as those who are mentored. Give yourself and your business the benefit of becoming a mentor.