Method 3: The Four-Headed Beast

by | Dec 1, 2017

The Four-Headed Beast is a catch-all name for a Half-Retire solution that distributes a CEO’s work without adding  the additional expense of more staff. As step number one, the CEO’s work is meticulously analyzed and dissected. Through the 98/2 Delegation Process, the CEO’s work is offloaded to staff. The same 98/2 Delegation Process can be applied to key staff to free up their time to  accept the tasks of the CEO. The existing staff’s capability and available time is analyzed to determine who should take over which work responsibilities and  portions of work from the Half-Retired CEO.

The Four-Head Beast Plan is complex and challenging to implement. However, the rewards are significant. Very little additional payroll is needed to pull off this plan. In essence, it extracts hiding pockets of talent, time, and equity from the business and gives it to you in the form of Half-Retirement.

Our experience shows that most business owners with a  company where the economic value of the business income is higher than the sales value will use the Four-Headed Beast Method. This ends up being about  80 percent of business owners. Why do so many business owners end up on the Four-Headed Beast Plan? It’s simple; the CEO does not need to cut their pay by paying someone to perform their previous functions (i.e., the Mini-Me Plan).They can preserve their income level by spreading out their work throughout the organization.

Please review the pros and cons of the Four-Headed Beast Method before deciding which methodology will work best for you.


  • Preserves the maximum business income because your position is indirectly filled vs. paying a direct replacement. Once completing the 98/2 Delegation Process, you should have a clear understanding of the hand-off process and its limitations.
  • Offers growth opportunities to existing staff. Imagine the potential demoralization of your key team members if you brought in a new CEO? We have seen situations where a new CEO is hired, and a few key team members quit. Ask yourself this, “Which hurts worse, not filling your position or losing key team members?” For most, the loss of long-term key employees will do more damage than the “empty chair” of the CEO.
  • Less training required than other methods. If you bring in a new CEO, they will most likely know how to “CEO” but may not know the ins and outs of your industry/business. By teaching your team how to CEO instead of teaching a CEO your business, you may accelerate the learning curve.
  • Promotes teamwork. The Four-Headed Beast Plan requires a team approach and creates an opportunity for the team to come together. Sometimes a dynamic something along the lines of “let’s show him how much we don’t need him” Develops. Swallow your pride and let them prove how unneeded you are. Your reward is Half-Retirement, not ego reinforcement.
  • Can be slowly transitioned. If your team learns quickly, you can move quickly. If they require more mentoring, you can move slower. The Four-Headed Beast Plan is flexible and can move as quickly or slowly as you need.



  • Existing staff may not have the necessary talent. The desire to push work down the organization is one thing. The ability to pull it off is another. Be sure to distinguish skills from talent. Impatience is a positive quality when you are running your business but is not a helpful one when you are mentoring. Skills can be taught; talent cannot. Our experience has shown that most business owners think the performance gap between their employees and themselves is talent-based, but it’s not. The 98/2 Delegation Process will find your Picasso work. That work is your talent. The rest is skill accumulated over decades. It may be difficult, but it can be taught.
  • May add stress to over-worked staffers. It is very common for small businesses to lean too heavily upon key staffers. It’s the old adage, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” Our guess is that you have already given tons of work to your busy people. Because they are great at their jobs, you keep giving more. Do these staffers have additional capacity? Typically, they don’t. If this is the case, you will need to delegate their work downward to subordinates so you can free up their time for your former tasks. Use the same 98/2 Delegation  Process with them that you used for yourself.
  • Staff may demand additional pay. This is a minor issue unless funds are extremely tight. Paying more to key staffers who are taking on your work is far less expensive than hiring additional employees. Our advice: Identify the staff who are critical to Half-Retirement and over-pay them slightly. This will remove the stress of these key people quitting so you can focus on more important issues.
  • May rely too heavily on best staffers vs. entire staff. Relying too heavily upon your stars tends to be Phase One of Half-Retirement. Eventually, these stars complain, demand raises, quit, etc. Understand that human nature is to take the path of least resistance, give the work to the most qualified.  Ask, “Do they have the capacity to help?”  If they are out of resources/time, find a way to get them the time before dumping an impossible workload upon them.

The Four-Headed Beast Method is the most complex and the most rewarding way to Half-Retire. It will take patience from you and your staff, but know that others have succeeded with this method before you. The rewards are many for both you and your staff.

Half-Retirement will be a journey, not an event or simply a decision. Keep in mind, selling a business is a lengthy process as well. If you have sold a business, you stressed over the decision to sell and then felt relief once that decision was final. Then the real work began. We have heard many business owners say that selling a business can take many months or even years. It is a process, just like Half-Retirement. The sooner you begin, the sooner you enjoy the fun.


FIND OUT MORE: Half-Retire Synonyms

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