It can be a scary leap to go from sitting in a cubicle with a guaranteed paycheck to sitting at your dining room table not knowing how you will be paying next month’s bills. Ahhh, the life of the new entrepreneur! It’s filled with stress and excitement and new ideas and a huge learning curve.
Every day brings new challenges to surmount as you put together a business plan, shop your ideas around, look for suppliers and vendors, look for prospects, and try to position yourself as a legitimate, qualified business interested in transacting sales. You believe in yourself and want others to believe in you, too.
But times change. Business grows. The customer base expands. You move from your dining room table to a small office in a spare room to a small office in a strip mall to a corner office in a prestigious address downtown. (Well, perhaps you haven’t made the entire journey just yet but you’re well on your way!)
Transitioning from the single-person business to a managerial style of business ownership takes a critical shift in your thinking. You no longer have to unlock the doors in the morning, converse with customers through the day, make crucial marketing decisions, and then mop the floors at the end of the day. Now you have to hire (and, unfortunately, fire) employees, shape expectations, delegate, trust others, create a vision and share it with others, and create a corporate culture. These are things you never had to worry about before!
Are you ready to make that change?
If, before becoming an entrepreneur, you came out of a management background, then you are in great shape. It may be time to dust off those managerial skills. If you did not come out of a managerial background, you may have to quickly “up-skill” to a new set of skills.
So what skills do you need to be successful as you make the transition from dining room to board room?
- You’ll need to learn to be hands-off. Micromanaging your staff will only burn you out and frustrate your staff. Instead, you’ll need to…
- Create a vision so that others can get excited…
- Set expectations so that your staff knows what you want.
- And follow-up from time to time so that you can make sure everyone is on track.
- You’ll need to create policies, likely something you didn’t have to do when you were running things on your own. Policies tend to develop organically on your own but need to be stated when there are other employees involved.
- You’ll need to decide just how much of your own vision you need to keep and you’ll have to consider the effect that other people will have on your vision, since no two people will share identical visions. Can your business (and can you) handle a slight dilution of your ultimate business vision?
- You’ll have to record what it is that you do when performing various tasks, then create a “best practices” manual so that your staff can do what you need them to do in the way you have found works best. However, be aware that they really should try other ways for themselves to discover the ones that work best for them.
- You’ll want to identify loopholes where less-than-ethical staff may find opportunities to steal from you and you’ll want to plug those holes with policies and monitoring.
Making the leap from solopreneur to CEO is a big step that means significant changes to what you do each day. Before even writing your business plan, you should decide whether that is a goal you want for yourself and, if so, how you will go about preparing yourself for that change.