Want Your Startup to Succeed? You Need to Protect These 4 Parts of the Company
As a leader, you will be responsible for new initiatives, systems, and business growth. However, as you grow it’s incredibly important that you protect the parts of your business you’ve already built.
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Becoming a better leader isn't always about executing on new initiatives or introducing new systems to your business. More times than not, effective leadership comes from the ability to prioritize and protect parts of your existing business.
If you don't. The rug can be pulled out from underneath you.
That's what happened to me.
In 2014, I was so focused on growing my marketing agency that I said yes to everything, and put the large majority of my efforts into trying to get new clients.
The long and short: I was burning out.
This burnout was because I wasn't in control of my time and I was leaving my business vulnerable as a result of it. I realized something needed to change if I was going to keep our company, and myself on the right track to success. I couldn't be at the whim of every client, my time had to be mine again.
I also recognized we that we needed to double down on our existing clients, instead of solely focusing on new client acquisition. This helped us increase revenues with businesses we already had a working relationship with.
There's a reason castles have walls, and that's to protect what's been built. Businesses are no different.
1. Their Time
The more you grow your business the more people are going to want your time. You may feel the pressure to respond to emails instantly or give others access to your calendar but this is letting other people control your time.
To be an effective leader you have to be in control of your time. When you control your time you can be flexible and give attention to issues as they arise.
I remember when I first started my business, looking at my browser and seeing my email open in multiple tabs. I felt the need to be there for my clients/coworkers at any moment. I was anxious if I was late getting back to an email, and was working as a purely reactive CEO.
The issue with this is when you're spending the majority of your time being reactive there's very little time to be proactive.
Today, I protect my time above almost everything. Specifically, I use the time-blocking method, where I'm unreachable by anyone for a set time every day. So my team knows that from 8 am - 10 am every morning I'll be unreachable. I use this time to work on parts of my business that need my complete focus.
2. Their Team
Your team is your lifeblood, and you better have their back, even if it's them that screwed up.
We were working with a client a few years ago on a small social media campaign. The project started off fine, but as the project progressed there seemed to be a bigger and bigger misunderstanding of what the scope of work was to entail.
The long and short, the client wanted something different than what our team delivered.
There were two problems here. First, our team had not done a good enough job of explaining our vision for the project before it started and second, our account manager didn't work close enough with the client as the project went along.
The initial reaction could have easily been to pass the blame, scold the team member and assure the client we'd dealt with the issue. But how would this affect my team's trust in me? Would they be willing to go battle for me? If I had acted this way I seriously doubt it.
Both of those errors were my fault and responsibility. I didn't put the systems in place beforehand or the proper training in place to make sure these mistakes didn't happen. I had put my team in a bad position from the outset.
If you're a leader, you have to be accountable for every mistake in your organization regardless of who directly made the mistake.
3. Their Revenue
All of the systems, hiring practices and tools available to you won't mean anything if you don't have revenue. Your ability to keep money flowing into your company will ultimately be what makes or breaks you.
Businesses can make it past inefficiencies, just as long as those breakdowns are not at the cash register.
4. Their Reputation
Your ability to hire, attract business and create a positive work environment will largely come down your reputation. Whenever you have a decision on your hands it will be smart for you to evaluate how that decision could affect your reputation down the road.
As said best by Warren Buffet, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."
I've seen people tarnished and labeled within industries because of a poor decision they made years ago.