Friday, May 11, 2007/
I am in a crisis in my journey. Am I the right person to run my business?
I have gone silent, I have stopped writing my daily blogs, stopped speaking and even become almost reclusive at work. I’m at a crisis in my journey.
My book has just arrived from the printers documenting the trials and tribulations of the first five years in a fast growing business. The launch event is next week. And I’m hiding. I should be on top of the world.
The next five years are more daunting than the first. The first were all about “one for all and all for one”. Fast growth is an adrenalin rush. Anything less than three digit growth is not really playing full out.
In the past few weeks, since returning from the Advanced Entrepreneurial program at MIT in Boston, I have come to the realisation that I might be getting in the way of continued sustainable growth of the business.
To have dramatic growth you need dramatic stability – and am I the one truly to deliver that?
I have always had comments such as ‘we get so much done when you’re not here’ or ‘one more idea and I think we’ll explode’. My team are amazingly resilient, patient and calm. But at what point is it time to get out of their way and let them get on with it.
My concern is that the larger you become, no matter how in touch you think you are – you eventually become like the emperor with his new clothes. No one wants to tell you how it really is.
It is so humbling to be acknowledged as a successful business leader – but it does not mean that we have it on easy street, that we do not face challenges every day that we don’t necessarily have the exact answers to.
I remember Tim Pethic (Nudie juice fame) saying being a true entrepreneur is like being a punching clown – we get knocked down and then we pop back up to fight another day. Punch – pop up – punch – pop up…
I’ve found that it has just taken longer than a few minutes to pop up this time. But I’m not ready to roll over and play dead. Call me the “Eveready” bunny – we just keep on keeping on.
The founder and CEO (Chief Experiences Officer) of RedBalloon Days, Naomi is passionate about pleasure! Backed by enthusiasm, energy and drive and recently named one of Australia’s best bosses (Australia’s Marketing Employer of Choice), the Entrepreneurs Organisation (Sydney Chapter) President 200708 and mother of two, Naomi also inspires others as a regular speaker, writes a blog and has recently completed her first book.
For more Get Out of My Way blogs, click here.
Professor Tom McKaskill writes: Naomi, we have to know who we are and what we are good at. We simply can’t be all things to everyone. It is really clear that entrepreneurs come in different colours and we are truly lucky if we can recognise which one we are and do that well.
In my case, I had a 30-person company where I got in the way. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was the one holding the business back – too many ideas and too little attention to detail. I finally got out of the way, appointed a CEO and went off and developed the distributor channel.
I had lots of fun, optimised my value and allowed the company to grow. We went to 160 staff with one round of VC and two acquisitions over the 13 years I had the business. These days I do what I am good at, and don’t apologise for what I don’t do so well.
This is also a good time to evaluate your future. Some entrepreneurs are simply very good at creating new businesses and getting them off the ground but are not the best person to take them to the next stage of growth where more formal systems and organisation structures are required.
Many entrepreneurs at this stage get bored or frustrated when they are not able to implement their next big idea. Perhaps this a good time to let go and consider selling off this business and putting energy and passion into the next one.
You should also consider what is in the best interest of the business – customers, suppliers and especially employees. If you are truly holding it back or not the best leader to take it to the next stage, then perhaps selling out to a larger company that can best grow it may the best thing you can do for those who have been part of the journey to this point.
Pollyanna from Perspectives Coaching writes: Naomi congratulations! Very few people have the personal insight and honesty that you have. Truly brilliant people create from what’s available good and bad.
Some questions for you to ponder: What’s available to you now? What if you asked the question – where do I get in the way of my business? From a place of real curiosity, you know the child-like curiosity that fills you with wonder. Then what’s available?
It sounds like you have a brilliant team behind you that you trust. Ask them for help. Design with them how you can all work together more efficiently.
Be brave: Ask them what’s the privilege of their roles? and what pisses them off? From here you can all create a way forward that serves you and your business.
Eve Ash writes: After reading this Naomi, I hope you can move to a better space for yourself. It may be surprising to uncover what actually is creating a downer. Try these:
1. Time out and counselling. Try a retreat like Camp Eden or similar, which is 100% for you, no pressure. See an individual counsellor, and get personal issues separated form business issues – as often they collide and one makes the other harder.
2. Find a good mentor or fellow CEO who has been through similar and talk with them regularly, try and uncover the triggers that set you back, and strategies for best progress to have both stability and growth.
3. Talk with your leadership team – ask them for their plans going forward.