Over the past few years, the label “Visionary” for entrepreneur/CEOs (popularized in the book Traction by Gino Wickman and EOS™ – Entrepreneurial Operating System) has become a tricky title. At best, it connotates a brilliant thought leader or idea generator revolutionizing their industry, always on the forefront of “what’s next.” At worst, it may paint a picture of a business owner who struggles to get her vision into a doable plan – resulting in little or no execution, micromanaging her team by delegating tasks instead of outcomes, and leading without direction.
But that is not necessarily what I see with my clients.
In fact, some of the MOST Visionary entrepreneurs I have worked with are actually very good at execution and implementation in the beginning of their business. They have a laser-like focus on sales and creating new products or services. They may also not only understand how to create an ad funnel, they also know how to get into the back end of their website and make changes. Even if they don’t understand everything their CPA or banker is saying (and really who ever does?), they know when something isn’t quite right and ask great questions – sometimes even stumping the CPA or banker.
In short, great entrepreneurs are good at a lot of things in their business. And that’s what holding them back and here’s why.
In the beginning of your business, you worry about getting sales, converting customers and service delivery. You’re not so sure that everything is going to work out exactly as you planned, and you may (most likely) make a few mistakes. Maybe cash is tight or at least, you’re conservative with your money and hustling feels fun – there’s an adrenaline rush in figuring things out. You hit your first significant milestone and then maybe another.
Until one day you have an actual business. With employees. And structure.
Suddenly, it hits you – everyone and everything is making you a little crazy as your business starts to fray around the edges. You have hit a roadblock you can’t break through. For some businesses, it can be between the $500k – $1M revenue point and others, I’ve seen it much higher.
Maybe things like this will happen:
- You started your business because you were grossly unhappy working in a J-O-B and wanted the freedom of working for yourself. You wake up one day and feel that sinking feeling in your stomach. OMG – I feel like I’m going to work. I’ve created another J-O-B for myself.
A business that requires you to do everything is just another kind of job and ironically, something you were trying to get away from in the first place.
- You launch some new products that you think are a slam dunk or you invest in a new technology. They tank horribly and without warning. There comes a time in your business when Having a Vision, Creating Strategy and Managing Execution is more than a full-time job. Being the only person doing both can create blind spots and often an opportunity to lose money without knowing how to fix it.
- You’ve invested in a small team of dedicated employees and contractors who are willing to help you move mountains. And yet, more often than not, you are troubleshooting daily and find yourself back in the trenches you were trying to climb out of. Worse, the revenue and profitability gain you were hoping to see, has yet to appear.
You or your business has outgrown your team and their ability to support your vision. The execution falls back to you and you are yearning for someone who understands not only where you are but where you are trying to get to.
You may even think, “Why do I have to do everything myself?”
You really don’t have to do everything yourself – you just need to acknowledge one thing.
The more competent in execution you are as a Visionary in the beginning of your business, the more it holds you back as you scale.
That’s right – the very thing that allowed you to be so successful (and probably profitable) when you started your business will bring you to a slow grind or even stop altogether.
How did this happen?
In the beginning you were in learn, do, fail, iterate loop – sometimes performing this so quickly you didn’t even notice that there was a “fail.” Ultimately, this became your knowledge or wisdom and it felt like second nature.
And, it is the inability to articulate and transfer that knowledge to your team in a meaningful way that is keeping you from scaling your business. You can’t understand why they don’t know what you’ve already learned or experienced.
That is why I rarely tell my clients that they need to just “let go.”
Instead, we focus on these three things:
- Create a Rock-Solid Framework – even if all the details are fuzzy. This includes a well-articulated vision, a plan, and the right team in place.
- Know What Makes Money. Understanding if your products and services are profitable, managing overhead costs and cash flow all make up a sound scaling financial framework.
- Execute a System to Manage #1 and #2. This doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, simple is preferred.
Letting go properly provides the vision AND knowledge or context for employees to make good decisions and build on what you’ve started. It also allows you to go back and build on becoming the next version of that forward thinking person who started your business.
And that’s a great thing!
If you’d like to learn more how Fractional COO Services could benefit you and your company, sign up for a free strategy session. I guarantee you will walk away with at least one actionable solution to a challenge in your business.