In 2008, Noam Wasserman wrote a study, published in the Harvard Business Review, called “The Founder’s Dilemma”.

Here’s the first paragraph – it goes straight to the nub”

“Every would-be entrepreneur wants to be a Bill Gates, a Phil Knight, or an Anita Roddick, each of whom founded a large company and led it for many years. However, successful CEO-cum-founders are a very rare breed. When I analysed 212 American start-ups that sprang up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I discovered that most founders surrendered management control long before their companies went public. By the time the ventures were three years old, 50% of founders were no longer the CEO; in year four, only 40% were still in the corner office; and fewer than 25% led their companies’ initial public offerings. Other researchers have subsequently found similar trends in various industries and in other time periods. We remember the handful of founder-CEOs in corporate America, but they’re the exceptions to the rule.”

And this is pretty confronting. We start a business believing that we will always be the person who runs our company. After all we started it, we had the vision, we set the strategy so surely it must be us. How could anyone else be better?

But I know for myself, that the longer I was in business the more I found that I didn’t enjoy all the aspects of it. I didn’t want to run the business. In working through Wasserman’s article and the subsequent book that he wrote about it I had to confront the question did I want to be rich or did I want to be the king. Or put another way, did I want wealth or control? We get so ingrained due to the hero culture of the Elon Musks and Steve Jobs that we must do it all. But most of us haven’t built a business before. We don’t have all the skills, and we are learning as we go. Our actual skill is to start a business and build it to a certain point so that it can flourish. It doesn’t mean that we must be the person to manage it forever.

I liken it to the analogy of parenthood. We have children, we nurture them, we feed them, we love them and help them to grow up. But at some point, we let them go out into the world and be their own people. Our job is to then guide them, encourage them, and be proud of who they become.

So, I chose to get out of the way and step away from an operational role in the business. I put a CEO in place and then worked to build the support structures to maximise the chances of success. This included a formalised advisory board and a governance board. I like to think that these devices help provide insight as well as oversight.

So, think this one through. Do you want wealth, or do you want control?

If you choose wealth, or even if you choose control, then setting your business up in a sustainable way, from an ownership perspective are established in our core program – F2O BluePrint. This program will introduce you to the fundamentals. This is the DIY approach to transition.

However, DIY isn’t the best way to make this transition. As you’ll discover, transitioning from founder to owner is about establishing the support structures and bringing the right skills to bear. F2O BluePrint is the core but when coupled with insight (stewarding strategy) and oversight (guiding the mission) it gets supercharged.

This is provided through our virtual growth programs F2O Insight and F2O Oversight. Business Balance Sheet become your virtual advisor to help you put the advisory structure and systems in place to let you step out of the day-to-day parts of the business.