How To Build A Business That Can Run Itself [The Pearl Lemon Way]

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Morning all,

Sun 5 Sept

I’ve not blogged for a couple of days this week so I’m going to try and make it all back today.

Pearl Lemon will be 4 years old in October and so to a degree even writing this blog seems a little nonsensical arguably because the business still doesn’t run itself yet.

However, this week was the first week where I realised I’ve bought in enough people that means the business potentially could be in a position where it could run itself perhaps.

We’ve got SEO & PPC, PR, Lead Generation and Cold Calling. Each of these departments (perhaps minus SEO) have a client relationship manager who could get on calls with clients.

With SEO, it is the case that to a degree our head of lead generation could do it.

Furthermore we also have a predictable pipeline of leads that come via cold email, cold calling and also inbound SEO – which means there is potentially always some business to close.

So with some of this context in mind – I decided to set myself a ‘grand ambition’ this year of stepping away from the business for 2 months per year AS WELL AS 1-week a month.

So let’s break that down into weeks:

1 week a month = 12 weeks a year

2 months a year = 8 weeks a year

Those 12 weeks a year will converge with the 8 weeks so in total that means 18 weeks a year which is 4.5 months a year.

The 2 months I plan to ‘take off’ will be in August and December.

Let’s define what I mean by ‘take-off’.

During work hours 8am-6pm – I will not check any of my work messages whatsoever. That means no random email checks, no random whatsapp messaging checks.

I will leave the team to face and focus upon all of their own challenges and try and figure things out for themselves.

Some basics that are important to making sure this works successfully –

Is there enough of a leadership team within the company to be able to run things?

Are there enough processes in place to support the team?

Is there and ‘if-this-then-that’ process setup in place?

Well, I’m not a fan of keeping things abstract so let me show you right now what I’m doing to put steps in place:

PL Group Leaders

I have a Whatsapp group as you can see with all of the leaders within the team.

I (as of Thursday) asked everyone what they need from me to be able to function independently.

So basically I’m brainstorming with the team to see where they need support and where they would struggle.

I’ve also done a couple of things:

  1. I’ve explained WHY I want to take the time off so that I can use it to develop something new or finish something old
  2. I’m asking everyone to ‘braindump’ questions they have about things they’d need from me to be able to function completely independently of me
  3. I’m requiring everyone to list down points so that I get a cross-section of all of the areas that they think they’ll need support with
  4. I’ve also add a timeline with a high level of certainty that it will happen (because I’ve said this is 100% going to happen).

The ‘one-week’ away a month approach is a great way to iron out problems on a consistent basis.

I had just 2 days away when I was in Italy for my holidays from the part of the trip during the working week.

And things were in worse shape then as we didn’t have a client relationship manager for cold calling.

But we survived!

With this in mind – being away for 1-week every month is going to be a way to have continual dry runs to figure out where all of our problems are.

There’s HUGE value in even playing out this mental exercise but treating it like it’s a real world event your team need to prepare for.

As the issues within the business get signposted really quickly as well –

Within 24 hours of sending that message in the PL Group Leaders whatsapp group I got the following issues resolved:

‘What happens if we’re not generating enough leads to fill the pipeline?’

Vasco Intern

What’s the protocol for transitioning a client from sales team to the operations team?

Ion Work Number

How should invoice approvals work with accounting?

WhatsApp Message View

How to deal with upset clients?

[convertful id=”197358″]

Dealing with Clients

How does hiring work when I’m away?


What happens if one of the team leaders are away?

Team leader away

Whilst all of the above isn’t exhaustive – this has all come up in the space of a Whatsapp chat group and underlines how much you can start to attack the challenge of ‘how can my business run itself whilst I’m gone?’

This is how.

I’ll keep you posted as things progress!