Any business owner will relate to those early days of starting out – just you, your laptop, coffee on tap, your hopes, your fears, your dreams. While doing everything solo is an immense juggling act, there is something reassuring about it – after all this is your baby, how could you ever not be involved in every aspect of the business. However, anyone who has ever scaled a business will also know that it is simply not feasible to be a one man band indefinitely, and soon comes the inevitable (and rather exciting!) next step of making your first and subsequent hires. Much like choosing child care, this can be an enormous leap of faith, and so startup founders will often agonise over their choice of employees, ensuring good chemistry, great work ethic, and crucially a very evident passion for the business concept.
Then comes the difficult part – having made the hire(s), it’s time to ‘let go’….a little. I can honestly say that when I began to expand the Mamamade team, as much as I knew I needed to, it came with an underlying concern that if I wasn’t overseeing every detail, something would go wrong. Thankfully we have been incredibly lucky with our hires, and now looking back I know that the business would not be half the success it is without them. Learning to step back and let other brilliantly qualified people take over, was a steep learning curve but one I strongly believe every business owner needs to take.
I had always said that Mamamade would offer life / work balance, and fellow entrepreneurs should note that goes for the people at the top too! So, having a great team around me means I am able to step away from the business for personal commitments, to be present at my daughter’s sports day, to do school drop off a few times a week, to have an actual family holiday. As cliche it sounds, having a mental break from the business to focus on other things I care deeply about (family, friends, interests) makes me an infinitely better entrepreneur.
There is another part of stepping back that goes beyond trusting employees, and that is creating the headspace to not just be IN the business but to look AT the business. I have found in the last year, knowing specific areas are being very capably looked after, has allowed me time to focus on our goals, to assess how we are progressing and to strategise about where we need to go next. This taking a step back is vital for a founder to ensure that the business continues to grow and evolve.