This post is adapted from one of the chapters of Blitzscaling written by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh, which I recently read.
Dear Startup Entrepreneur,
When you start your company, unless you have the capacity to build a team and bring people on board right from the beginning, you (and your cofounder) will end up doing almost everything on your own; marketing, sales, business development, operations, product development, etc. Thanks to your brilliance, your company kicks off the ground and achieves product-market fit.
However, as your company grows and the workload increases, it becomes almost impossible to keep doing everything yourself. The requirements of your role keep changing and you keep learning brand new things you didn’t know before. You bring new people on board and things start to get busy.
Your company is growing and so must you. In fact, your personal learning curve needs to be ahead of your company’s growth curve. This is necessary to ensure you are still the best person to lead your company as it grows and transitions into the scaling phase. And part of this learning curve involves learning how to scale yourself from a founder into a leader.
Three ways to scale yourself are delegation, amplification and making yourself better
Find, hire and mentor good people and transfer work over to them to so you can tackle the challenges you are uniquely suited to tackle. Many founders are incredibly talented that they have a hard time letting go of tasks… thinking no one can do a task as well as them. This is true but eventually, they will figure it out. Just as you figured it out.
Many startups get off the ground thanks to the individual talent and hard-working of founders but they grow into giant companies because these founders learned how to delegate.
Rather than delegate work, can you hire people who amplify the work you do and make it more impactful? A talented personal assistant who is a good business person and a good organizer may be able to ensure that your one hour of work translates into 10 hours of impact by helping you out with the heavy lifting like researching the information you need, processing info about your company and industry, etc.
Making Yourself Better:
Because your company grows quickly, it’s important to grow quicker than your company so you don’t become the bottleneck to your company. How do you do accelerate your learning curve? You can do this by stand on the shoulders of giants. Talk regularly to other smart people to learn from their successes and failures.
Reading is good but seek out dialogue and advice from mentors. If you find the right source, you don’t need to read everything. Get help from experts who may be less famous. Like people who are on the same journey as you but quite a bit ahead.
Be systematic and have a set of personal board of advisors who can profer advice and fill in the gaps in your knowledge in areas that are important to you. Regularly report to them on your progress and ask how you can become better.
Happy business building.