Letting go of control is a challenge for every entrepreneur but an essential one too. As Karen Auster proves, it’s a vital step toward keeping your sanity intact and helping your business to bloom. As founder and CEO of the Brooklyn-based Auster Agency, an experiential marketing firm, Karen found she was stretching herself too thin and growing exhausted. In 2017, as her company celebrated its 20th anniversary, she spent a week with us at Duke University as part of the Birthing of Giants Fellowship program to recharge her batteries, reignite her excitement, and develop her one-year plan.
During her time at the program, Karen had the same realization that all business leaders eventually discover: She needed to take a step back and work “on” her business, not “in” her business. To do this, she focused on hiring a second-in-command from within to support the day-to-day operations – something she’d never done before.
The entrepreneur says she took a leap of faith in letting go of control, but it has already paid off in spades. In just four months, the Auster Agency closed as many contracts as it had in the entire previous year. I recently caught up with Karen to find out what steps she took to make this transition possible, and what lessons she’s learned along the way.
Help Your Staff Discover Their Full Potential
Creating a second-in-command position wasn’t the only lateral move Karen encouraged among her people. Spotting the employee’s untapped potential, she also helped an unhappy producer to thrive in a Business Development role.
“She’s a great worker – smart, driven. But I knew she wasn’t satisfied,” Karen explains. “It’s been wonderful to watch the transformation!”
Nurture Your Team To Nurture Your Business
As her company enters a newly-invigorated growth stage, Karen is keen to improve her staff’s productivity and overall happiness.
“Something I’m focusing on is team building,” she says. “Because I find that the happier the team is, the happier the company is, the happier I am.”
Lead By Example
Being a female entrepreneur inspires Karen to help other women rise to the occasion. She is proud to hire a lot of women and to see former employees go on to lead other organizations.
“It’s very important to me to be a role model and mentor to women in business,” she reflects. “That’s always been my driving force.”
Empowering your team to take over the daily operations of your business is one of the most important steps an entrepreneur can take. You can hear my full conversation with Karen by listening to the podcast now.
Check out my extended interview with Karen Auster on Forbes.com.
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