There is a lot to be said of an entrepreneur that can really scale their business. One that can start it from nothing but an entrpereneurial vision and grow it into a large organisation. One that manages to get over the growth hurdles that confine a lot of entrepreneurial businesses to being as large as the entrepreneur can spread themselves thin.
One of the greatest things that many entrepreneurs have a problem with is letting go. They feel a duty to the business they have built to always be involved on a micro level. Not being able to give the reins over to anyone else to grow it and scale it.
One of the theories here is that entrepreneurs are excellent at; well; starting businesses – growth-hacking and bootstrapping basically. But when it comes to actually scaling to a business that spans cities and requires HR departments; IT departments etc. the bootstrapping entrepreneur is a bit at sea. They find it difficult to switch to Executive Mode.
If you troll the internet you can find a million theories as to why entrepreneurs find this particular part of the journey difficult. They range from: being burnt before; where they have relinquished control of a business either too soon or to the wrong person; all the way through to being simply bad managers.
It’s the second point there that I thought I would focus on…
You see – being an entrepreneur really at the heart of it means that you are excellent at stimulating growth; breaking down barriers and generally making what seems impossible, possible.
Similarly being a great business leader often means making sure that you are able to manage people and the complexity that comes from a multidisciplinary organisation.
This is not to say that a great entrepreneur cannot transition into being a great business leader; and vice versa.What I am saying though is that these are very different mindsets and skill-sets that can certainly be learnt.
Arguably though – would you want to? When you speak to any number of entrepreneurs – you are not going to find them saying that they want to be great business leaders – they are not wanting to create large corporations that require organisational size and complexity. More often than not when you speak to an entrepreneur they are trying to solve a need and create a niche.
As an entrepreneur determined to solve niche problems; is your strategy not: “How do I prove my concept works; build an MVP; and then exit to start the next niche problem solver”.
If so – then scale is not your challenge – it is understanding how to package your solution so that you can exit and give the challenge of scaling it to someone who is able to.
The value that you as an entrepreneur bring is being able to take on the challenge and break down the barriers to entry. Once that is done – by and large – the thrill is gone for the entrepreneur. The rest has been done before and is almost formulaic.
Sure there are some true exceptions to this rule. Steve Jobs; Bill Gates; Richard Branson; Michael Dell. But those are truly the exceptions in the minority. The mainstream entrepreneur (if there is such a thing) is simply not built that way!
What are your thoughts about exiting a business as an entrepreneur?