Being an entrepreneur is probably the world’s most unstructured job. You start with a blank sheet of paper and a few bucks of seed capital. If things work out, you create something much greater than yourself. Part of that process is to build a team that will conduct the operations of that company. It is a big job … and you need some rules to help you.
If you have $50 million or more of initial funding, stop reading now! For the rest of us who have bootstrapped their organizations, here are three rules that have been vital to my success:
1. You do what no one else can do
A critical part of running a venture is to build a team of individuals who have all of the necessary skills to operate all phases of that venture. Unfortunately, reality and capitalization will often dictate that there will be holes in that team. In the absence of better candidates, those holes will often define part of your job until you can fill them. As the founder, hopefully you will have as good a grasp of most responsibilities in your venture than the person you hired to assume that responsibility.
Everyone likes to say “hire people who are smarter than you”. The reality is that if they were smarter, they would be hiring you! In many situations, you will be the best person to do a job (in the short run). I’ve often stepped in to temporarily assume the responsibilities of s who I’ve fired or else just didn’t have the perspective needed at the time. In addition to keeping things running, it has given me better insight into what I need to look for in future candidates for those responsibilities.
2. You do what no one else wants to do
You are the “human glue” of your organization! Too often, people (who you desperately need) have problems with portions of their responsibilities. Perhaps they are temporarily unable to travel … or they hate dealing with customers. In the short run, be prepared to fill in for them.
3. You need to be constantly working yourself OUT of a job!
As an entrepreneur, you need to build an organization that will thrive without you. You need to build a leadership structure and get out of their way … as long as they deliver the results that you expect. Your “job security” is based on your company’s results, not your job!
My first hire into my first company was a guy who was good at his job, but showed the potential to be an even better leader. After receiving some training in the technologies that we used, I made sure that he received the “good assignments” that would build his stature … while I did the “grunt work” that was necessary to be done. As we hired additional employees, they soon reported to him … and he chose to build up those employees as I did with him! 32 years later, he’s still going strong!
My “replacability” was tested without notice on January 17, 2015 when I was in a head-on car accident. My company continued to flourish in my absence. Since I returned to the job, one of my biggest challenges has been not stepping on the toes of everyone who did so well without me!
Perhaps it’s time for them to take over and for me to move on to other challenges???
What do you think about this?