What is Larger – The Startup or The Founder?
Entrepreneurs are very passionate about their startups and often live and breathe them every moment by micromanaging everything. While that is a key ingredient to drive success, it can also prove to be a deterrent, if the founder begins to treat the two entities, i.e., himself and the startup as one.
It is very important to keep a little distance from the start-up and understand that even though it has been brought to fruition by you, it is a separate entity altogether and needs its own space to grow and thrive, pretty much like your own baby. Holding on to it dearly, will only do it more harm than good and hinder its growth.
So, while you may be extremely passionate about making your start-up a success, you should learn to keep yourself separate from your business and think rationally. Although passion can power an entrepreneur, it can also can also blind you and prevent you from taking the right decisions.
Remember, more than 50% start-ups fail within the first two years of their launch, so there isn’t much room for errors. So even if some hard decisions need to be taken, you need to look at the bigger picture and go ahead with them, even if means putting your own interests on the backburner.
On the other hand, if a business grows bigger, there will be more stakeholders involved, such as investors, VC’s as well as customers. While no one will have the same vision as the founder, sometimes growing companies need a bigger skill set.
You should, therefore, not be very attached to your plan or vision as they may need to change as more stakeholders get involved. Entrepreneurs have to be ready to accept a better idea, if and when it arrives. Letting go will also help you find skilled people who may have a better skill set and can potentially do the job even better than you. If you are able to find just the right person to run the show, it will even free you up to do the things that you like best.
By making a conscious effort to separate yourself from your start-up, you can take more rational decisions rather than emotional ones, which will be in the best interest of your business in the long run.
Here are some ways in which, both you and your start-up stand to gain by treating the two entities independent of each other:
1. Money Vs. Control
If a company scales up, you will earn your stakeholders and yourself a ton of money. On the other hand, you will not be able to manage the day-to-day activities yourself as your operations scale up. The founder will then have to choose between raising money from outside and giving up equity or keeping the company small and maintaining full control. It is rare for entrepreneurs to be do both, i.e., maintain control and earn money.
2. Hiring the right people
Sometimes founders have to make the tough decision to step down as CEO, and instead, hire a professional CEO to run their company. Remember, the right person can possibly do even better than you and take your company to greater heights, thus freeing up your bandwidth, so you can focus on more important things, both on the personal and work front. It’ll also leave you with more time to think, so you can figure out ways to put the company on a faster growth path. Though a critical aspect of an entrepreneur’s job, it is often ignored owing to a paucity of time and resources.
Moreover, entrepreneurs are driven by innovation and developing new ideas, so being buried under the everyday monotony of operations of the start-up may leave then less excited.
3. Can help your business grow
Sometimes getting out of the way is the best way for your business to grow. Some founders believe that they are the only ones who can grow their business, and they don’t have time to train other people to understand their business and vision.
But entrepreneurs must understand that by relinquishing control they can free themselves up to focus on more growth-oriented tasks. One of the ways that they can let go slowly is by giving up control slowly over a span of months, instead of in one go.
4. Hiring a COO
A COO can do a number of tasks that don’t require your personal attention. He can be your ears and eyes in the organization and can be useful in performing various duties that don’t require your personal attention. For instance, he can like hire people, execute daily tasks, become a change agent, and also your partner and heir apparent in the long run.
It is difficult for a single person to execute a growing business by themselves. Letting go of some of the responsibilities will help you get bigger things done in the future. So even if a stage comes when you need to sell your business or make an exit, you should be willing to let go. A start-up is like your baby that you take care of, but once it grows up, you have to allow it to chart its own course and fly.
[About the Author: The article has been contributed by Vikram Upadhyaya – Chief Mentor at GHV Accelerator.]
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