The Benefits of Relinquishing Control

According to Paul B. Brown, contributor to Forbes, “There are many different ways of being a CEO and unfortunately a majority of people gravitate toward the old command and control model where the boss’ fingerprints can be found on everything” (Brown, 2014.) Micromanaging in the name of getting rich can be extremely time-consuming and exhausting for a busy entrepreneur. Yet, some find it very difficult to let go of the reigns, even if it means building social capital, human capital, and financial capital for a business. Each of those resources are pertinent for a growing venture to continue to thrive. Greed can be a treacherous human flaw—one that has left many business founders broke and wishing they had done things differently from the beginning.

Jim Payne, former CEO of MoPub said it best, “You can hoard the whole pie for yourself, but it’s a team sport you’re playing” (Shontell, 2014.) With this mindset, Payne not only set himself up for success, but he also set his employees up for success. He allowed those employees to contribute their own ideas and to buy stock in the company. When Twitter finally bought the organization for a hefty price tag of $350,000, many of those employees acquired an enormous amount of wealth, along with Payne. A very valuable lesson can be learned here. It is safe to say the company most likely would not have grown to be worth such a substantial amount if he had gone the route of ignoring the rich amount of human, social, and financial capital his employees had to offer. If more entrepreneurs followed Payne’s model, we could see a significant increase in successful startups in this country and around the world soon.

So, what does this mean for me and others as we work toward our Masters of Entrepreneurship degree? It means a lot. We can see that the trend of being the bearer of the first and final word and being the one who wants to hoard every dime does not always pay off in the end. As a matter of fact, just the opposite is true. But if we follow Payne’s example and the examples of others like him, we stand a very good chance of getting off on the right foot the first time, or even the next time, we decide to create a startup.

References

Brown, Paul B. “Want To Build A Successful Company? Give Up Control.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 16 Apr. 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/actiontrumpseverything/2013/09/08/want-to-build-a-successful-company-give-up-control/#16a6948a3114.

Shontell, Alyson. “How 3 Startup CEOs Gave Up Fortunes To Turn Half Their Employees Into Millionaires.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 4 Sept. 2014, http://www.businessinsider.com/non-greedy-startup-ceos-who-turned-employees-into-millionaires-2014-9.

The Accidental Entrepreneur

Ten years ago, I started an automotive repair business with my, now, ex-husband. We had no capital, no education, and no idea what we were doing.  He was a mechanic by trade and I was a young mother who had experience as a part-time assistant manager in the restaurant and retail industries. We had no mentors and no money. Yes, I said no money. We had five bucks in the bank. The adventure began in the two bay workshop behind our house with only a home computer, a land line telephone, and the tools he had acquired over the years.  Everyone we knew told us we were crazy, and maybe they were right, but we managed to go from making around $40,000 the first year to running a very lucrative six figure business in a real repair shop, complete with an office and a waiting area for our customers two years later. Not too shabby!

Looking back, I know it was an absolute miracle we achieved that level of success because we jumped in with the blinders on. Honestly, I do not recommend that route to anyone who wants to achieve long-term success and staying power in their respective industry. I also do not advocate starting a business with your significant other, but that is another story for another time. I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when starting a business. It is not a responsibility that should ever be taken lightly. As you can probably guess, from the direction this is going, the business we created together no longer exists. I do not have any regrets, though. It was certainly a learning experience that helped me grow into the person I am today. Mistakes should be viewed not as failure but as stepping stones to do things in a better and more creative way the next go round.

While I have taken a step back to gain some much needed direction in my life, and I have since gone back to working for someone else other than myself, I still feel the calling to put myself out there one more time. But first, I am taking a small detour. I have decided I need to educate myself this time and to execute my next business adventure with a plan in place. I am older, wiser, and I’d like to think I have something significant to offer others, even if it’s in the form of advice on what not to do when just starting out. (Boy, do I have a lot to offer in that department!) I guess once you have gotten a taste of a life filled with creativity and innovation, it is very difficult to turn back.