There’s an accepted wisdom which tells us that you have a choice, as a business owner You have a choice to work in your business or on your business. Everyone understands that the one must logically cancel out the other, that a business owner needs to have their sights set firmly and exclusively on the wider concerns of running their company.
But I want you to throw that accepted wisdom away and start again from scratch. Start from the bottom. Examine your business and try to gain an understanding of every single one of the most crucial jobs that make it function.
What I'm suggesting is that owners dedicate some time, throughout their year, to connect with different categories and levels of employees, and examine the way their specific job and tasks contribute to the company as a whole. Talk to them about their roles. Watch them work. Ask them to teach you.
Of course it’s unreasonable to suggest that you need to micromanage your company and tie yourself down to an operations role that could prevent you from becoming an effective CEO.
The ship does need a captain, and you’re it. Scrubbing the deck every day won’t help your crew get her to port.
As a business grows, it drifts further and further away from the initial ideas and principles of its founders. Where it was once lean, it’s easy for it to become bloated. Where it used to baulk against middle management, it now has more middle managers than developers.
Once you reach a certain size these cultural, policy and development changes happen radially, they happen gradually, and they happen without any real knowledge of the founder at the top of the pile. Everything shifts, and you reach a point where you might not even recognise your company any more, if you got down to brass tacks.
The only way to understand whether or not your company is still representative of your overall vision is to discuss the processes and culture with your employees. Not just their managers.
The presence of each hire should have a positive effect on the productivity, profits and success of the whole company. Every task that must be completed is a crucial part of the processes that allow you to run a business.
Connecting with these employees is a way for the top level executives, the founders like yourself, to understand how their presence impacts the levels of management above them and the consumers and customers who rely on your products.
Understanding the gaps in your company by discussing them with people from every level will allow you to identify opportunities to improve your operations. Discover new product categories. Work out how to better care for your employees and meet their needs, enabling them to meet the needs of your customers.
It’s vital that you have a high level understanding of your company, sure. But every now and then, reconnecting with the basics of the business is going to refresh your perspective.