It sounds like a strange philosophy to promote: make yourself redundant – especially when you first set out on your entrepreneurial journey. It is in fact one of the most useful mindsets that you can yourself into though – creating a team and processes that means the business can run entirely independently of you.
When I first started my telecoms business, I had to do everything. From sales, to finance, to negotiating with vendors. There was no part of the business that I didn’t have a direct involvement in. As you scale the business however, you realise that that approach isn’t sustainable. As the founder, I couldn’t physically or mentally do everything, even if I wanted to.
Getting yourself into the mindset early on of being dispensable to the business will mean that you make better decisions on hiring and delegation. When I sold my business, I can honestly say that I didn’t have a good idea of how our core network operated. Through hiring many talented technical minds, it had grown beyond the realms of my comprehension. By stepping back and supporting these talented individuals to develop the business in new and innovative ways, I was in fact creating the long-term value of the business. A mentor once told me that as a founder it was your job to set the grand vision, but your daily tasks was essentially just to make tea for the team. Hire good people and then let them get on with the job.
Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
As I mentioned in the podcast, one of our customers did literally mistake me for the teaboy, as every time he met me, I showed him to the meeting room, alerted his account manager that he was there, and then made everyone in the meeting room tea. Having a somewhat fresh-faced complexion may have helped! When he told me this (all the time apologising profusely) I was delighted. It meant that I was doing my job well.
A lot of this comes down to ego. Many people believe that when they start a business, they have to be the indispensable decision-maker. When the enterprise is in its infancy, this makes sense. But when you’re up and running, being the conduit of too much decision making will slow you down – you won’t innovate as quickly, you won’t seize opportunities, and your business will suffer as a result. You won’t be able to scale.
Whilst it will be impractical to literally make yourself redundant early on in your journey, always have that thought in your mind. What processes can you delegate? Who can you hire to drive innovation and new perspectives into the business?
Even if you just start to visualise that white sandy beach, cocktail in hand, I can sure it will give you the extra impetus you need to make your business a success!