I know a few company founders and they often have something I call entrepreneur’s disease.
Entrepreneur’s disease is where the founder thinks that he or she is bigger than the business and all the success is due to them.
You all know someone like this. Every piece of credit goes to them, all the blame goes to someone else.
Before IMA I subscribed to the concept of the lone genius who bucks the trend to start a business and has some sort of mystical knowledge. I had bought into the entrepreneur mythology.
Starting my own business has given me a sharp dose of reality.
I’ve made more mistakes than anyone else in IMA: bigger ones, more significant ones, ones that have caused real pain to the company.
It was quite humbling to discover that it’s not about me – at all. Success comes through the team of people we have working together.
The best consultant in the world won’t produce much unless she gets an engagement that can show her skills. The best business development manager won’t be effective if the consultants can’t deliver what he’s been promising. The best recruitment team can’t recruit talent unless they have a company people want to join and peers they want to work with.
It takes many people to achieve anything in business.
I’d go as far as to say that nothing worthwhile can be achieved alone. It is always a collaborative effort.
So how can you avoid entrepreneur’s disease and make it not about you?
There is always someone to thank when something goes right. Success has a thousand fathers and it’s important to recognise the people who’ve made it happen.
The more encouragement and recognition you give the more likely your team will repeat the success.
* Build a great team
If you can’t do it alone, then make sure you have great people around you. In Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about getting the right people on the bus. Your team will drive your success. So don’t cut corners. It’s often very tempting to recruit to fill an immediate need. Don’t do it.
The long term pain of a short term decision means it’s always the wrong thing to do. If you can’t find the right person, keep looking and look in different places, and don’t compromise.
* Hire people who are better than you are
This sounds like the first point again, but really it’s not.
There is a temptation to think that you can’t possibly find someone as good as yourself to do a role. In a previous life I’ve actually hired someone that I thought wouldn’t be as good as I was to avoid being challenged.
I’ve learnt my lesson.
I’m a firm believer in getting someone better than you at the task. There is always someone better at a specific job than you are. Getting them into the role can be challenging when you have to confront your limitations, however it is incredibly liberating to have a team where each person takes responsibility for their area and enables you to focus on new horizons and goals without worrying about their ability to do their job.
At IMA we’ve found this is one of the key drivers of growth.
I think that entrepreneurs disease isn’t restricted just to company founders, although it’s often more obvious when someone is given free reign in a company. Exhibiting “it’s all about me” behaviours are detrimental to your company and your career. While sticking to the rules above not only help your company but they will also help your career – but perhaps that’s another post.