Being an entrepreneur might be your dream. But living that choice isn’t always the easiest.
“What have I let myself in for?” most entrepreneurs wonder at some point.
That’s because getting your business off the ground often requires more skills than you might ever have imagined could be contained in one person.
And, in actual fact, they usually can’t! Success comes for entrepreneurs who are shrewd enough to recognise that they can’t do the lot, always and for ever.
Sure, when you’re first getting your business off the ground, you probably have little choice about doing a bit of everything. I’ve never forgotten how I was marketing manager, IT manager, general manager – you name it that was me – when I was setting up the first, pilot Cash Converters store in Parow in 1994.
It was immensely stressful – in fact, I lost 11kg working seven days a week to get the store up and running. But it wasn’t just about how much I weighed, it was acknowledging that I needed to be able to ask for and accept help from the right people to ensure that our business grew.
As I built the scale of the business, I was able to bring in people who could do more than share the load – they could do some aspects of the job better than I could.
Know your strengths and skills
I had studied for a B Comm but I’m the first to admit that I’m not so good at the financial details. So my partner and co-founder Peter Forshaw is our finance director and the one talking over the nuances of suspensive accounts with the relevant staff.
In the early years of Cash Converters, I had experience of marketing and advertising – enough to realise that I was particularly poor at this aspect of the business. Self-knowledge is a critical aspect of being an effective general manager of your business.
To be effective, you need to have the capacity to understand the business in all its facets. But you don’t need to know specialised issues in detail. I don’t need to – and shouldn’t – attempt to make significant decisions about where we book the spend in our R25 million advertising budget. I simply need to have enough understanding and insight to grasp the plan devised by our marketing manager and approve it or not.
Find the pieces of the jigsaw
Building the jigsaw puzzle of your business is about recognising where there are gaps that reflect where you are poorly skilled. Then about being able to recognise the people who will fit those gaps and slotting them, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, into your organisation.
In the meantime, you place yourself in the jigsaw puzzle according to your strengths, applying this key resource to areas where nobody else can fit and deliver. That way you give your business the best fighting chance of going beyond just surviving to thrive and grow.