In some way or at some time every business is limited by the limitations of the man who started it.
For many businesses the problem is that the entrepreneur feels that he has to micromanage everything, even when he knows the business has grown too big for him to do it. By making it necessary for all decisions to continue to go through him, he creates a constant bottleneck.
Other businesses are stalled because they are built around the talent or skill of the top man. These businesses stop growing when the boss can’t do any more than he is already doing.
If you realize that you are causing the first problem, the way to solve it is to hire people who are really good at key aspects of your business – people you can trust to take on big chunks of your responsibilities. Hire a marketing person who is as good as or better at marketing than you. Hire a product person who is as good or better at producing products. You get the idea.
The way to solve the second problem is to clone yourself – i.e., find someone with the same kind of potential you had when you were starting out and build a second line of products around him.
A great model for this is James Patterson. James Patterson, if you don’t know him, is the most prolific best-selling author of all time. He puts out two or three best sellers a year.
How does he do it? Not by working harder, but by finding and developing clones. He finds a talented writer who hasn’t yet achieved best-selling status and makes him an apprentice. He gives the apprentice the outline for a novel. The apprentice writes the first draft, following the outline. Patterson edits the drafts for pace and tension. The apprentice makes Patterson’s corrections, and the book is sent to the publisher.
What Patterson gets is not a book that is exactly as he would have done it, but close enough. The book is published with both his and the apprentice’s name on the cover. If the book makes best-selling status, the apprentice achieves a certain status too. That makes their next co-venture even more likely to score.
If your business has stalled and you don’t know why, ask yourself: “Am I the problem? Am I creating a bottleneck? Have I made myself the brand?
In either case, there is a solution. Hire super-talented people and let their stars shine.