All entrepreneurs have a bit of ego, we are often intrinsically competitive, driven and have an unwavering belief in what we are trying to achieve. I believe you need to be a bit eccentric and maybe a bit crazy to live the life of an entrepreneur. Sometimes however, our drive for success clouds what we should really be doing to get there.
1. Doing it all
Fortunately for me, I am naturally a person that is comfortable with delegation. Delegation, in my opinion, is key to building a scalable, sustainable business. A few years ago, the company was going through a difficult period, we had some people in the wrong roles and our offering stagnated.
As the CEO, I have to take full responsibility for this and ultimately it was my decisions that created what had occurred. My response to it was to get more involved in the detail of the business to ensure we delivered a product and service I was proud of. Over the period of about a year, I had become so involved in areas that I should have left alone, I had started to dread coming into work. I was not enjoying it anymore and saw no end in sight.
Being part of an accountability group in Entrepreneurs Organisation, I did a presentation to the forum about it (called getting my mojo back. As part of the preparation for this presentation, I detailed everything I loved about my job and everything I hated. This process allowed me to see the woods from the trees. It became apparent that slowly my ego had got me involved in areas I should not have been involved with. Overnight, I just stopped doing the things I hate, delegating them to people far better equipped to undertake them. Doing this had a profound impact on my work to the point where I became re-invigorated again.
2. Coaching Others
Over the years, I have done quite a bit of mentoring and coaching for other business owners. My default state is to want to grow a company; I love the idea of scale and growth and find it hard to fathom any other way.
I remember mentoring one business owner who owned a creative agency, he was a very talented guy but also very egotistical. Through our sessions, we discussed how he could scale the business and what he would need to do to make a mark on a national, and perhaps even global scale; he certainly had the innate talent.
Although nothing was said at the time, it turned out that he felt pressure to want to grow a big agency, even though in his heart he did not want to. He really just wanted to do good work for good people (fair enough!). It was my ego that made me presume that he would want to grow the business, after all, that is all I really know. This taught me whenever I now coach or mentor business owners, at the outset I really get to understand what they want to achieve.
3. The Numbers Make You A Success
Our business has grown every year, we have been named in the fastest 500 growing tech companies in the Asia Pacific for the past 6 years. In the past, I have been guilty of focusing on the growth and number of the business to the detriment of other areas of my life. I recently lost someone very dear to me, who leaves behind a partner and two young children. This has reinforced to me that success isn’t about the numbers, it is about the people in your life who you love, impact and ultimately help. There are not many people who are on their death bed thinking I wish I had worked harder, but there are probably a few who wished they had spend more time with the people that are really important to them.
I think a bit of ego is an important attribute for an entrepreneur, but it is also critical to keep that in check and surround yourself with people that you love and respect who will hold you accountable if your head begins to grow a bit too much!