Being an entrepreneur today can be overwhelming. There is no shortage of information to help shape your decisions and the direction of your business. This can obviously be unnerving at times, and cause you to lose focus on what is really most important. I am as susceptible to these challenges as anyone and will offer a few suggestions to help address them.
First, use a documented system within your organization to help you and others identify risks, discuss and resolve them, and hold people accountable to getting the issues to resolution. Delegate this task to the best person for the job, one who has the know-how, time and capacity to get closure in a timely manner. Readers have heard me speak of the system that we use at Evolution called the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS). This system has not only been invaluable in the resolution process previously mentioned, but also keeps us focused on what we do best. It is important to not deviate. I am not suggesting that you should not evolve your focus or strategy. But I am suggesting that a system will help you thoughtfully filter appropriate information that makes it more digestible, and therefore less reactionary.
Second, you have to have a great management team. Many of the businesses that we invest in have undervalued and therefore underinvested in a management team. Entrepreneurs are not always qualified to be involved in all aspects of a business, whether it’s accounting, operations or sales. Letting go and delegating specific areas of the business to individuals who are domain experts is an important step in freeing up the entrepreneur to focus their talents on moving the business further down the road toward his or her vision.
We see many situations where a small business’s growth has leveled off because the entrepreneur has many loyal employees rushing to them with every issue, no matter the magnitude. Let’s face it, there are only 24 hours in a day and not all decisions can or should be made in that 24 hour cycle. When businesses slow, it’s often because the entrepreneur gets overwhelmed with unfiltered information.
Finally, an entrepreneur needs to have a sounding board of talented people whose focus is on the long-term success of the business. I am a big fan of having a board of directors or board of advisers (the difference to me is that the board of directors has authority while advisers are simply providing advice).
Having formal and regularly scheduled meetings with professionals that respect the entrepreneur and the business, I believe, is key to filtering information and leveling with the entrepreneur about what information and ideas matter and what don’t.
The board members also have to have the ability to speak openly and honestly to the entrepreneur about what the business should and should not be doing based on changing circumstances. Again, change can be good, but reacting to an avalanche of information is not healthy for the entrepreneur or the business.
Jeffrey Kadlic is co-founder and managing director of Evolution Capital Partners