“Why do people lose interest in their own businesses and, perhaps more importantly, what can you do to keep this from happening?”
If you speak with as many leaders and management consultants as I do, both inside and outside of Zweig Group, and through my work teaching entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas, you will see that one of the primary reasons companies fail is the owner(s) are not fully engaged. I have witnessed this myself many times over the last 40 years working in the AEC industry.
You have to be INTO your business if you expect it to succeed. There is something good that comes from constant attention and thinking about something. Not to mention that other people in the organization see it and become more inspired themselves.
So the question is, why do people lose interest in their own businesses and, perhaps more importantly, what can you do to keep this from happening?
Firm owners lose interest for many reasons – illness, divorce, burnout, partner disputes, other interests, even too much financial success – all of these and more can destroy someone’s critical motivation such that they are no longer fully engaged.
Let’s take a look at what we can do about the problem. Here are a few potential solutions:
- Change the business and take on new challenges. Sometimes a new business plan with new people, services, and marketing ideas is all it takes to re-engage an owner. We have seen this work dozens of times over the years. New direction and clear goals to work toward improves owner engagement. They may get interested in their own business again.
- Resolve the problem(s) that led to the reduced interest in the business. Whether that is health, divorce, partner disputes, difficulty within the family – whatever it is – getting through it may be all it takes to fix the owner engagement problem. Sometimes this takes outside help and most of the time, this takes time. The big question here is can the firm wait long enough for the owner(s) to recover from whatever is happening to them?
- Get new leadership involved. Some firm owners will get this and some won’t. But the reality is sometimes it may be in everyone’s best interests for the owner to step aside and let someone else take the helm. Of course, the right person has to be there and that person has to be equipped for the job. It won’t be an overnight process. Best to start early so the leaders – old and new – and the rest of the organization have time to get used to the idea.
- Sell the business either internally or externally. Always an option. It may be the best thing for everyone – leader and employees – to simply move on to whatever is the next stage. An unmotivated leader will not maximize the opportunities for everyone else in the company. New ownership could have a better plan, be more inspired, and bring other resources into the company that re-energize the place.
As I like to say, no matter what the problem, there is always something you can do! The key is to DO SOMETHING!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.