From Entrepreneur to CEO

In my humble opinion, the word entrepreneur is used a little too much these days.

It seems that everyone and anyone that’s starting a business or growing new ventures gets painted with the “entrepreneur brush”. But is this title necessary once the start up phase dies down?

Sometimes yes, and most of the time I don’t think so.

Most organisations have entrepreneurial starts, but very quickly they get into the business-as-usual cycle that then lasts the life of the company.

And unless the person that started the venture dips out of the business to do more entrepreneurial things, then they’re more of a business owner rather than an entrepreneur.

Therefore changing your role from a start-up entrepreneur to CEO/Managing Director is going to be an interesting time.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been transitioning over the past few years from a high growth start up founder into a functioning Managing Director.

So here’s a few things I picked along the way:

1. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

This term is getting used a lot these days but it’s so true in business.

Unless you’re setting up a high growth entrepreneurial business for a quick sale, the establishment of any good business will take time and plenty of stamina.

And with this comes the changing responsibilities of moving your skills from “exciting growth skills” to “retained business skills”. And these are very different.

2. Get a great management team

It’s a given these days that in order to grow and scale, you’ll need a great management team with you.

They’ll need to be supportive, autonomous and operationally visionary.

And they’ll need to manage you too. Not upwards which I think is a bit old school, but positioning wise.

By this, let them know your personality strengths and weaknesses and the areas you’re developing so that they can adapt their management style around you. But be prepared to manage them too when they’re also under pressure and clear communication and engagement is vital here.

3. Set up innovation within your business

As you settle into your new business-as-usual role you’ll find that you won’t get to do the “cool” innovation things anymore (apart from the occasional strategy days).

So set up a clear innovation pathway for your business and engage with the staff that want to help you to innovate.

Make sure though that it doesn’t take away from all their day-to-day operational activities, otherwise they’ll get overworked and it could affect your business as a going concern.

4. Surround yourself with exceptional advisors

Get great lawyers and accountants on board to advise you on the all important compliance areas that you’ll need on a regular basis.

Although they might be cheap, getting smaller or local advisors can actually hinder your business. I know there’s plenty of tier two advisory firms that look for stable developing businesses to work with, so don’t feel they’ll be too big for you just because they’re located in larger offices!

When choosing your trusted advisors, see who’s the best fit and will be reliable to work with in both the good and tough times.

5. Go and get trained up

I highly recommend looking at the AICD Company Directors Course or a MBA to refine your Managing Director/CEO skills.

Not only do you make great networks, you’ll learn some important skills too.

And in an ongoing capacity look at leadership development consultants to help grow your daily people management skills too.