After years of growing their ventures, many small-business owners end up like Eric Poses – calling all the shots and rarely getting a moment's rest.
"I do everything," says Mr. Poses, president of All Things Equal Inc., a Miami board-game company he founded in 1996 that today earns about $2 million in annual sales. "I'm still making all the decisions, which takes up a lot of my time."
For owners who've built their businesses from the ground up, letting go some control to a second-in-command can be nerve-racking. But experts warn that there are potentially worse consequences to maintaining a tight grip on an enterprise, including burnout and problems stemming from unexpected emergencies, such as if an owner suddenly falls ill.
Sandy Hansen, owner of AgVenture Feed & Seed Inc. in Watkins, Minn., understands those dangers all too well. She was thrust into entrepreneurship in 2003 when her husband, the feed-supply company's original owner, died of leukemia. He had never appointed a top deputy in the nearly 20 years he ran the business, nor did he create a succession plan. "He didn't get around to it," says Ms. Hansen. "We were in near bankruptcy for three years trying to learn information only he knew." The business has since rebounded, she adds.
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