When the Founder shouldn’t be the manager


MyEntrepreneur Magazine 3

To ensure the business continues to grow, Founders need to acknowledge when it’s time to step aside and let experts take the reins of the day-to-day operations.

A successful business can grow while keeping customers happy. However, when you are the Founder of the business, quite often you can find yourself in a managerial or operational role, despite the fact you may be better suited to strategic or innovation led thinking.

A great business can have it all – by thinking about it a little differently. And that starts at the top level.

Firstly, consider your opportunity cost.

A major warning signal that the Founder is stifling the growth of the business is a clear inability to take advantage of new opportunities, whilst still delivering on objectives.

New opportunities show themselves up all the time and it takes a leader who is working on the business – not in the business – to identify and take advantage of them.

Consider the cost of not taking advantage of the opportunities that would present themselves if you made yourself more available. What would be the cost of allocating your tasks to another team member to free you up? What new business or initiative could you secure in the time you would ordinarily spend on administration?

You must start thinking about your time in terms of the value it brings the business. As a Founder, your unique value often lies in your ability to visualise concepts and ideas and bring them to life, often making something out of ‘nothing’.

Consider whether your strengths are being flexed every day, or, as the business has grown – whether they’ve been replaced with ensuring the smooth running of the business. If your unique value does not have the opportunity to bring value to the business regularly; you may come to resent what you’ve worked so hard for.

Money, Resources or Time: pick two.

Early growing businesses have time – but often lack money and resources. As a result, they are more likely to embrace new initiatives quickly. They are nimble. They embrace risk when there’s less to lose. They are often able to develop one or two initiatives well before they stumble due to money or resources.

Established businesses on the other hand, with more money and resources, lack time. They overlook opportunities the busier they get, with their head in the sand, focused on getting through the day-to-day and keeping employees and customers happy.

Because of this, both camps miss new opportunities to drive the business forward. A great business can have it all – by thinking about it a little differently.

If you can’t let go, you can’t grow

If you see your business as your baby – you’ve already lost perspective. Yes you may have built it from scratch, but if it’s successful, its value now lies in its ability to deliver and grow.

It is now up to you to focus your energies into new areas. That can be either on the business, on a Board or in a new venture entirely.

At Bastion, when we passed the $5 million mark, it became clear I needed to step away form the day-to-day to grow into a bigger business. Although it didn’t come naturally at first, I focused my energy and skills into developing new initiatives for Bastion Group to help the business grow and have never looked back.

I then had not only more time but also more headspace. And it didn’t take long to see tangible outcomes as a result of stepping outside of the operational side of things. Our Government consultancy developed an International Division to create off shore opportunities for our clients. The Group developed a resource pool to service clients across all of our businesses, attracting award winning digital experts.

If you aren’t able to let go, you aren’t able to grow, as simple as that. And that doesn’t mean leaving the business if you don’t want to. It’s simply a matter of playing to your strengths and bringing in talented people to help you realise the business’ goals and perhaps most importantly, its future potential.

Say goodbye to admin and hello to your life.

As the Founder of the business, you have always done things your way. If you are going to grow, you need someone better suited to now run the operations of the business, and therefore they may do things a little differently.

Your business will be in good hands with people suited and better skilled than you to run the business. Someone running the operations of the business should be a genuine expert in their field and specifically, have a passion for the work. They should also have a passion to develop and nurture a team to create excellent outcomes.

This person doesn’t need to be the sales person or chief strategist. All they need is the ability to deliver on the promise of the business and develop the staff within the company.

Acknowledge they will do it differently and potentially in your eyes, not as well ‘as you could’. This is your ego talking here. There are always better ways to do things and a good leader understands when to step in – and when to step away.

If you accept they are there to run the business, free you up from the managerial tasks, empower them to take the lead – and then get out of the way to let them do it.

Fergus Watts is the CEO of Bastion Group, one of Australia’s fastest growing communications groups. As CEO he helps SME’s grow to their full potential.


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