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Why founders need to learn these three things to scale their business

This founder shares why it’s crucial for entrepreneurs to work toward firing themselves, and the steps they can take to get there.

Why founders need to learn these three things to scale their business
[Photo: Flickr user Jorge Díaz]

Entrepreneurship is a journey that demands untold quantities of time, commitment, and personal courage. But it’s also a road that can bring great rewards–whether it’s witnessing your vision come to life, seeing your product solve a long-standing problem, or having complete control of your schedule. Unfortunately, these rewards also come with a high risk of failure. According to a 2017 report, only 51% of businesses that started in 2011 made it through to 2016.

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The thing is, every business owner has a limitation on what they can personally create and achieve. To break that limitation, you need to learn how to scale yourself out of your organization. Yes, that means working toward making your presence unnecessary. After all, starting a company (or even running a successful one) doesn’t equal freedom; scaling your way out of the daily grind does.

Learn to delegate the “how”

There’s an old cliché that a business owner proudly “wears all the hats” in the organization. This idea is absurd and unsustainable. Even the best and brightest don’t know how to perform every single job function, and there is no way that any one person can juggle all of these things at the same time and still do them well.

Your job as a business owner is not to know how to do everything, and you definitely shouldn’t try to do everything yourself. You started the company. You may even have the capability to continue to run some (or most) of it. But once your organization gets to a certain level, you need to delegate if you want to grow. This includes the tasks that seem most familiar or comfortable, or those you think only you can do up to your high standards.

Your responsibility as a founder/CEO is as follows:

  • Who–hiring and firing
  • What–creating and sharing your big-picture vision
  • Where–establishing the future direction of the business
  • Why–giving your team purpose as they support your big-picture vision.

What vital piece is missing from the above? The how. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pay attention to details, but you shouldn’t be fretting over every little one. Your job is to communicate and rally your employees around your vision, and let others be the doers and the experts in executing that. To do this well, you need to surround yourself with amazing “how” people.

Figure out how to make your daily presence unnecessary

Replicate your talent with a team so you can effectively “fire” yourself from everyday tasks. Your employees are the people who are going to help you get from “here” to “there.” Hire great people, then trust in their abilities. Trust them to figure out the how.

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I often think that entrepreneurship is like parenting. It might be your instinct to jump in to be the hero when your children are struggling, yet you need to enable them to fall, learn, get up, and apply lessons on their own. This is the only way they can be self-sufficient and have the confidence to solve problems without you.

Apply the same attitude to your team. Let them have own their responsibilities, and practice stepping away from the business, making it clear that you trust them to hold down the fort. When you return, make sure to acknowledge all of the things they achieved in your absence. The more you focus on what they can do on their own, the more responsibility they will naturally want to take on. This frees up more time for you to focus on big-picture work, which brings me to my next point.

Work on your business, not in it

As you continue to cultivate a strong team of leaders to run your business in your absence, you can also start detaching yourself from your seven-day workweek. (Yes, most business owners end up working every day of the week.)

Start by committing to taking every weekend off, plus one day during the week. You’ll be amazed to discover how much more you get out of those four workdays than you did before. Being refreshed and focused at work is the achievable result of taking more time for play, and giving your brain a break from the day-to-day stress of entrepreneurship.

Next, work your way toward a three-day workweek. Before you know it, you’ll be able to take a month off without worrying that things will fall apart in your absence. Ultimately, you’ll be able to run your company as the founder “at large,” only weighing in on top-level decisions and overall company direction.

It might sound scary to scale your way out of your business’s daily necessities, but you need to this in order for your company to achieve its highest levels of success. Practice honing your courage to let go, and hire people who can handle the business without you. When you can do that, you’ll be in a much better headspace to achieve amazing things with your company.

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Allison Maslan is the CEO and founder of Pinnacle Global Network® and the author of the #1 best-selling book Scale or Fail: How to Build Your Dream Team, Explode Your Growth, and Let Your Business Soar.”

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