Is it Time to Fire Me?

I have started and run several businesses. I have also watched my friends and colleagues start and run their own businesses. Over the years, I decided that all of us fall into one of three categories: 1) those of us who should have never started a business; 2) those of us who should have started and run a business; and 3) those of us who should have started and at some point turned the business over to someone else to run. This blog is about the third category of people; those who should have started but not continue to run the business through its lifecycle. The question on the table is, “is it time to fire yourself?”

In previous blogs, I wrote about how people are similar in that they have lifecycles. I also pointed out that the questions asked and decisions made at each phase in the lifecycle will determine whether the business moves to the next phase/stage or stagnates or even worse, dies at its current phase/stage.

Many years ago, I took over an enterprise that was in serious financial trouble and the runway was very short. When I accepted the job I gave the board a signed undated letter of resignation. Somewhat shocked, the board chair asked why I would possibly do such a thing. I told them that I was going to need to do some things very quickly and I did not have time to get their approval regarding some things some board members would consider risky. If I did something to mess things up, they could execute the resignation letter. However, I told them there was actually a more important reason. While I was exactly the right person to get things on track, I was not the person who should run things once that was done. The letter was designed to be a tangible reminder that we needed to be mindful of the reality that part of the strategy called for identifying my successor.

While perhaps difficult to execute, determining whether you should fire yourself or not depends on the honest answer to a straightforward question. Assuming you understand the precise phase/stage of your business as well as the next phase/stage, the question is, “do I have the experience, expertise, skills, and appetite to get the business from where it is at now to where it can be next?” If the answer is “yes,” then continue. If the answer is “no,” then find someone with the aforementioned characteristics. Then fire yourself.


Patrick McNees
Managing Partner
Health and Life Science
Kirchner Private Capital Group

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