Monday, 12 May 2014
Year Five: Managerial
Key Challenge: Re-defining the founder’s role in his or her company.
Year Five challenges are often similar to Year Three challenges. The difference is often the scope and scale of your role in the business. The challenges in year five are also extensions of the lessons learned in the Eighteenth Law…The Entrepreneur must develop ahead of the Enterprise.
The important question to ask yourself at the beginning of year is what your role in the enterprise should be. You have developed your management skills and understanding…you have ‘Moved North’ and are spending some time thinking about the future of the business…now it is time to find the job to which you are best suited.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your business is to replace yourself as the CEO. This is often true when the entrepreneur brings unique skills to the organization. I met a fellow in the eighties named Bill Gibson. He is a public speaker and seminar leader now based in South Africa. Bill once told me that the smartest move he ever made was hiring a boss. It allowed him to focus on the thing that generated income for the company…Bill Gibson! (He also told me how many sessions he had to cover his new and substantially higher overheads!)
Some people have a passion for what they do. When Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in favour of Steve Ballmer, he took on a technical role… something he wanted to do! He re-cast his own role within the business.
For many founders, it is difficult not being the boss. You may have a founder’s skill set, but may not have a builder’s skill set. These skills are different. Having a founder’s skills is no guarantee you have a builder’s skill set. I met one ‘serial entrepreneur’ who sold her businesses instead of having to build and manage them. She was great at getting them off the ground, but then got bored and wanted a different ‘founding’ challenge.
You may, on the other hand, want to grow your business. You must decide which areas you want to drive, and which areas you want to delegate. A client of mine, in professional services, wanted to grow his company. He hired great project managers in order to increase his capacity in the business. He also hired an internal accountant years before most people in a company his size would take that decision. In fact…conventional wisdom would have said that he was five years too soon. He knew that there were financial complexities coming and that he couldn’t keep up with these areas. He found a great CFO/Accountant and never looked back.
Managing and leading a larger business is a different kind of challenge. It is slower and more systematic. Many great entrepreneurs transition well from founder to builder. Michael Dell and Howard Schultz are examples of founders who became great builders. Just remember, if your role changes, somebody else may have to do things you used to do…and that is difficult for many entrepreneurs!
Year Five is a great year. The angst of adolescence is behind you and you are still excited about operating your business. You also have learned about both your business and about business in general. Year Five is a great ‘launching pad’ for business growth. Year Five is a planning year, a time for, looking at the future of your business, and your role in that business.