You're Limiting Yourself More than You Think
I’ll be honest: I underestimated how difficult being an entrepreneur would be. In truth, there is nothing easy about it. Starting a business requires equal parts courage and vision … with a hint of madness. When I started my analytics company a few years ago, my friends and mentors advised me to seek out professional guidance to help grow the company. I didn’t take their suggestions seriously. I viewed myself as the quintessential entrepreneur, well versed in my field and confident in my abilities.
Fueled by boundless energy and enthusiasm, I was unaware of the frustration, uncertainty and myriad details that would rob me of my time and deplete me of my determination. In the first year alone, nearly every hour of the day was devoted to getting my business off the ground. It was exhausting, to say the least. Being the bulldog that I am, I held on, only to learn that no one person can do it by themselves. This realization allowed me to accept other truths that challenged my conceptions of how a lucrative business should operate.
The Concept of Control
One concept I stubbornly held on to was the need to be a part of every decision. Moreover, I thought I needed to do all of it better than anyone else. After all, I was the boss. But what good was having talented, capable employees if I wouldn’t allow them to do their jobs? This humbling realization allowed me to see the value of not only putting the right team in place, but giving them room to make their own decisions, missteps and solutions. Over time, I have added a layer of senior managers who are confident in their abilities, and by giving them room to grow, they have developed the ability to preempt conflicts and act accordingly. I’m reaping the rewards of delegating, not the least of which is a regular sleep schedule and downtime. I still slip up from time to time, but I’m getting better at relinquishing control and focusing on strategies and relationships.
Play Nicely in the Proverbial Sandbox
One of the most strident voices in my head used to shout, “Don’t give up equity in your company!” As a result, I was reluctant to entertain any inquiries of partnering with others. But if it takes a village to raise a child, creating strategic partnerships to form a strong team can’t be a bad idea. The key was finding partners whose expertise complemented that of our company. For instance, since 2010, our business has collaborated with TMG (The Members Group), which specializes in improving the performance of credit and debit card portfolios. Since we provide customized analytics services, we accentuate each other’s strengths; our partnership has yielded great success so far. When the team is firing on all cylinders, it’s like watching an orchestra, with each section performing their part to perfection.
Growth Often Means Change
We start companies because we excel in a trade or skill and want to communicate that value to others. In my case, business analytics fascinated me, and I saw the potential to help others make great decisions using informed data. At a certain point, though, I needed to focus on higher-level tasks if we were going to operate a multi-country business. Where I used to spend 80% of my time on data analysis, I’m lucky now if I can devote 10% of my energy toward that original passion. While this can seem sad, my thirst to learn and grow the company means having mental flexibility. Our roles need to morph and change if we want to progress in our entrepreneurial journeys.
A good business plan, a strong team and valuable, strategic partners can, and did, set the stage for our continued success. Amid this business growth, the biggest hurdle, and potentially my most crucial step, was getting out of my own way.
Rahul Nawab is an EO DC and EO Gujarat member, as well as the president of IQR Consulting, Inc., a provider of analytics solutions to industries like financial institutions, retail and insurance. Contact Rahul at [email protected].