Giving up control as a business grows is important

Nathan Allsopp
November 23, 2017

Founding a company is a lot like having a child. You decide it is time, worry about the birth, weather many sleepless nights in the early days, invest a lot of time teaching your child things and help them navigate through various stages of their life. 

However, a parent’s approach needs to change over time. Times change from ultimately doing everything for you to watching you do everything yourself.

Being a founder is a very similar situation. You invest time, effort, money, blood, sweat and tears. In the early days, you personally hand-craft each aspect of the company from the colour in the logo to the pitch decks and accounting software. For those that are fortunate to find success, they are able to witness their efforts turn into larger-scale successes.

However, as a business scales, a founder’s approach needs to change just like a parent’s approach also needs to change. You need to give up some of your control to your employees.

Mom, I’m sixteen! Stop offering to wipe my ass!

Giving up some control is a scary idea, but the scale of a larger business means it is no longer feasible to do everything yourself. If you’ve got 16 employees, your efforts need to be focused into very different areas in comparison to having 1 employee. Your time is limited, and you need to be conscious of the time investments you are making. 

Now, some of you may be sitting here reading this thinking — giving up all my control is obviously not a good idea! Like everything in life, the point is to find a balance. Context is king.

So, why is it important then to change your approach and give up some control as your business grows?

1 — You don’t know (and don’t need to know) everything

Starting a business often comes as a result of experience or expertise in certain areas. This is what makes starting your business feasible. However, starting a business does not also make you immensely knowledgeable about marketing, HR and so on.

The point is — you don’t need to be good at everything. Consider the concept of opportunity cost — you will get better value out of your limited time doing what you do best, and leaving the rest to others. 

Focus on being awesome at what you are awesome at. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades and a master of none — be open to better ideas and don’t try to know everything. Just know enough to remain informed and always communicate with internal staff.

Mom, I told you to use the Chromecast and not to plug your laptop into the TV!

2 — Internally, a business needs to change as it scales

Once upon a time, when there was no employees, a founder dictated how everything was done. Fast forward a few years, and perhaps there is now 50+ employees. Those processes might have worked well for one person, but do they really work well for 50?

As a business grows, being resistant to new or improved processes because “thats not how things are done around here” isn’t always the best idea. Doing something that suits just you doesn’t remain important as you grow. You need processes that result in the best degree of coverage and communication within the business.

Whether it is changing the organisational structure or the introduction of an all-hands meeting, try to remove as much of your own personal bias/emotion as you can from it. Consider what is best for the company, and best for the people.

3 —Clever staff are employed for a reason — let them shine

When someone is employed into a company, they are often employed for their particular kick-ass skills, knowledge or experience. As much as that person joined to earn a salary, they took the job for more than just that. 

They want fulfilling projects, have the opportunity to grow, and they want to make their own positive impact on a company and its customers. If you’re employing them just to tell them the only way to do things is your way, don’t be surprised if people don’t stick around or if you don’t find too much success.

Remember why you employed someone, empower them and let them have the chance to drive something within the business. Sure, oversight may be needed at times, but empowering clever people might just lead to big things.

4 —A CEO needs different skills through different stages of growth

During the early days, things are hyper-personal. You likely know, manage and handle all of your customers — you are the face of the company. Likewise, you know all the staff and the going-ons of their personal lives due to the close proximity of a smaller company.

However, as growth kicks in, no longer do you know every single thing that is going on in your company. You don’t know everybody inside and out — you might just know them by their resume. The situation becomes incredibly unfamiliar if growth is rapid.

The beauty of this is that you can draw on the experience of others in your company that have managed people at this level. Being the CEO does not mean you can’t ask people for insights or help. Being the CEO means people and customers back you and trust you.

5— Emotion can get in the way of your decisions

Like raising a child, growing a business means you ultimately become attached to it. The thought of losing it becomes incredibly scary.

However, sometimes this means emotion can get in the way. 

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