Founders need to learn a lot of varied skills in order to run a company. You need to be able to create and deliver a unique product or service; you need to be able to sell it; you need to be able to convince employees to join you, even though they may have to suffer a cut in their salary; and you need to be able to raise funds. There are lots of balls you need to juggle, and you need to do them all well to run a company.
The trouble is that you need to learn most of them on the job because there are no tuition classes for founders.
The traditional approach for most founders (egged on by their investors) is to try to identify their deficiencies, and then fill them in by trying to learn as much as they can about the skill they lack. For example, if they have problems with managing people they will be told to learn people skills.
I think this is short-sighted. While it’s great to be able to have all these skills, the reality is no one can be good at everything. Rather than worry about your weaknesses, you should play to your strengths.
Related Article: The Perfect Match: 5 Traits to Look For In A Co-Founder
However, this doesn’t mean that you ignore your weaknesses. Step number one is to acknowledge them so you can address them. However, you don’t need to do it yourself. You can either outsource it, or you can find someone else within your company who enjoys doing it, so that he is better at it than you will ever be.
This is because one of the reasons you are plagued by your weakness is because you hate doing it. You know you’re not very good at it, and you’re unlikely to become much better. It sucks up a lot of your energy, and no matter how much time you devote to it, you’re never going to become great at it. This is why it’s better to let someone else do it. Learn to delegate intelligently, so both of you can do what you are good at.
As a founder, you need to identify what makes you better than everyone else, and then keep on focussing on this, so you will become even better. Find the area in which you can lead your company so that it can go from zero to one! This is what a good investor will encourage you to do. They will give you the freedom to do what you shine at, and help you to fill in your gaps , either by helping you to find the right employees, or finding a way which you can outsource it.
The best investors will actually provide back-office support to their startups. This allows the founder to focus on growing his company and improving his product because he is no longer bogged down by the mundane details of financial book-keeping and reporting. Also, since the investor is doing this for lots of companies, they have the advantage of economies of scale; and it also allows them to keep a close track on the financials of their companies.
This freedom will allow you to create a unique competitive moat. You will enjoy yourself a lot more, which means the morale in your company will be high, and it will be hard for someone to replicate your special skills.
The reason founders forget to play to their strengths is because they get bogged down by all the routine stuff which they need to do, but hate doing. They procrastinate, and this saps their energy even further, leading to a negative vicious cycle. Polish what makes you special, so you can become even better, and establish an unbeatable lead over your competition.
80% Focus On 20% Of The Tasks
This is a simple application of the Pareto (80:20) rule, which tells you to get better at the 20% of the stuff which yields 80% of the results you want. The trouble is that for lots of founders, the 20% of the tasks they hate to do start occupying 80% of their bandwidth, and this is what causes them a lot of trouble, as the jobs pile up because the buck stops with them. They end up so busy fire-fighting, that they don’t have any energy to innovate or lead.
You need to be self-aware and ask your investors for help, so they can help you accomplish more by giving you the freedom to delegate and outsource.
[This post was first published on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission.]