The media is in love with the concept of the business “Founder”.
They are a hero. They’ve headed out on their own to create some new product or service. And the “Founder” proudly puts it on their CV, Resume, Social Media profile as a badge of honour.
Hail Elon Musk. Hail Mark Zuckerberg. Vale Steve Jobs.
They can do it all. They run the company, they make all the decisions, they leap buildings in a single bound.
But mostly it’s a lie. The mere mortals amongst us just aren’t that good. Even Superman has to be Clark Kent some of the time.
We started the business and devoted all our energy in to getting it off the ground. We had sleepless nights. We missed family events. We worried about everything going on. And we took on more than we had the experience or natural skills for.
Well done! But it’s not sustainable. And in many cases, as the Founder we become one of the limiting factors holding back the growth of the business.
And here’s why. As Founders we start the business with a defined set of skills that is much smaller than the full range required to successfully run a business. We work in the business on areas we have no previous experience in and we make it work. But it isnt necessarily the only way or the best way. But its the only way we’ve seen it done and so we don’t change it. And, over time, this holds the business back.
I’ve long said, as a business founder, that one of the challenges as a business starts small and grows over the years that “you find that the people who were right for your business at one stage are not necessarily the right ones for it at a later stage“. And that is emotionally hard (if you have any empathy at all). But here’s the corollary “…and that includes the Founder“.
Just because we were good at starting a business in no way makes us good at running a larger business. Many of us get there and evolve. Just as many of us don’t get there but we are so integral to the business that we can’t see a way out. There can be this overwhelming sense of being trapped.
But there is another way.
It’s about transitioning from being a Business Founder to becoming a Business Owner.
This is about putting in place a “Business Owner System”; a system whereby you can be a key shareholder, have appropriate oversight of the business, but not necessarily be involved in the day to day operations. You play the role with the business that you love. It is about getting the business to serve you and not just you serve the business.
It’s about getting out of the way, and working to put the people with the right skills and experiences in place, so that the business achieves everything it can. It’s a conscious choice to make. Transition from being a Founder to Owner – F2O.
This is a process that takes time, and is not necessarily easy (there is a whole emotional and identity component we’ll get to), but you’ll get your life back to work on whatever is next, or to dream and imagine what could be next, all the time being a cheerleader, and raving fan for the business you started.