Running your own business can be exciting. It’s yours. It’s something you imagined, you nurtured, and you introduced to the world.
I worked for the business I eventually bought for fifteen years and before I took the plunge, I had a mentor explain ownership thusly: Imagine jumping out of a plane and feeling the world rush by your face, taking in sights only you can see at the moment and realizing there is no one else doing exactly what you’re doing. You can see for miles and the speed you’re moving through time at is unparalleled; it’s pure adrenaline. You’re living in the moment, and you get to relive a similar moment every day.
Then you pull the ripcord and your chute won’t open.
If you’re willing to pay an attorney everything you have to prevent you from hitting the ground because you have faith in your ability to make it back, then sign on the dotted line.
What allowed me to put pen to paper was the people I worked with. The bookkeeper was an amazingly detail-oriented and ethical person who had spent years keeping us legal and financially risk averse. The Sales Manager used to be the GM and he was always spurred on by accomplishment. The Operations Manager was methodical, a great listener and entrenched in the company and product history. His big motivation was opportunity for his people. The Personnel Manager had a knack for knowing people, recognizing their capabilities and their limits.
The only thing that could have ruined it was me. I quickly adopted the role of provider: my job was to give people the tools to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Whether those tools were financial, physical, or educational, I did my best to provide people with the tools our budget would allow. My job simply was to make sure people could do their jobs, not to do their jobs for them.
Don’t pay people if you’re going to strip their ideas and autonomy from them. The strength of a company is not from a singular person, but from the combined perspectives and collective experience of the people you assemble.
At Dinsmoor Strategies, over half of our workforce is half my age. I don’t need them to execute my vision for a client, but to bring their concepts to the table and analyze all perspectives to arrive at the best possible idea. Honestly, sometimes it’s like they’re speaking German and I can only understand Portuguese; but we challenge each other and speak freely. It’s an incredibly open atmosphere to offer or to pivot with ideas.
If innovation and the idea pipeline is dry in your organization, the trouble, quite honestly, may be you. Have the courage and leadership to question yourself and not only listen, but hear what others have to say. You need people to speak up, but they need to be heard.