The Secret Entrepreneur: Stepping back

Ever wondered what other successful entrepreneurs really think? Our Secret Entrepreneur is here to tell the full, unvarnished, truth about life as the CEO of a fast-growing business.

Our Secret Entrepreneur has been lifting the lid on the angst, frustrations, and realities of running a multi-million turnover company right here.

In their last column our Secret Entrepreneur shared how they deal with clients they despise. Here, they reveal why the burden of power and responsibility weighs heavy on the shoulders of others – and how they can’t really let go anyway.

“Stepping back is hard to do. A little while ago I realised that I’d reached the point where I had to step back from my business and stop getting so involved in the day-to-day management.

Things were going well, the business was thriving, we had happy customers and more cash than we knew what to do with.

I was bored out of my brain.

I don’t do boredom well. I’ve never met an entrepreneur who does – A.D.D. comes with the territory. When I get bored I start to come up with new ideas, and begin to meddle with old ones. I want to see things happen with them quickly.

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That doesn’t work so well with an established business, that’s got a solid roadmap, a good management team in place and more than enough for everyone to be doing as it is. In fact, it tends to piss your best people off.

So I had to step back, hand over operational control to my senior team and let them get on with things.

That was more difficult than I ever thought it would be.

Why? No matter how good my team are, they aren’t me. I always told myself that I wanted a team that would challenge me, be independent thinkers and better than I was. I still do.

The trouble is, I miss being able to overrule them when I think my way is better, and I get the distinct impression that they do too. There’s a comfort for all involved with this. I’ve had years of shouldering the burden of responsibility and it’s not something I mind in the least. Removing that buffer from a senior team can be a bit of a shock. It’s on them now.

Not that I couldn’t jump in and dictate, but to do so would suggest I don’t have confidence in my team and make stepping back a hollow gesture. It’s wrenching to go into a meeting and have to hold my tongue (well, maybe make a few suggestions, just suggestions), to wait and see how their ideas pan out.

Most of the time things go well, often better than if I’d had a direct hand in the process. That’s awesome, and humbling. It’s the times when things don’t that it gets difficult not to wade straight back in and start meddling. But I mustn’t. I won’t.

So I’ll start another venture with some of those ideas, and begin again. After all, I get bored easily.”



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