Running a business asks a lot of you. In the early days, when it’s just you and a small team, you’re pulled in two directions. There’s the high level decision making that’s needed to drive the company forward, that you report on to investors, and then there’s routine work that keeps the company running that you would, under other circumstances hand over to dedicated staff. As the owner of a small business you’re the best salesperson it has for when you need to bring in new clients, you’re in charge of managing and developing everyone in the business, making sure holidays don’t clash and even solving IT issues, most likely!
It’s pressures like this that contribute to the very real condition of Founder Burnout. Don’t artificially shorten your career by running yourself ragged trying to do everything your business needs by yourself. Today we’re looking at some tools and resources to help lift the burden on the start-up founder, the small business owner and the CEO, and make running a business a manageable task.
Any business owners that wants to be making good decisions needs data to base them on. If you’re trying to gather that data yourself, you’re going to feel overstretched – you can write out some questions for regular customers and clients, or design a survey using free tools online, but as you’re not an expert, you’ll find yourself investing a lot of time without getting back really valuable results.
Work with a market research company and you’ll outsource all that effort while getting back genuine insights: a brand track survey can tell you how you rank with your competitors and why, while other surveys can help you understand exactly what your customers value, so you can pivot your offering to appeal to it better.
In the early days of your business, you probably won’t have access to the sort of experts you get to add to your business as it grows: people like dedicated HR staff, legal personnel and IT managers. This makes a lot of sense in the early days: with a lean team focussed simply on getting your offering ready for the market, it would be a waste of resources.
That said, you still access to some kind of HR knowledge. You need systems to track and coordinate holiday and illness, to ensure your team are stretched and challenged, and without something in place you’ll find it difficult to adapt as your business grows!
Consider getting interim managers in. Normally thought of as ‘disaster specialists’, they’re experts at dropping into a situation, getting to work right away and imbuing a company with their experience. So working with an Interim HR manager for a few weeks lifts the burden from you, and allows an expert to set up systems that will keep you working efficiently until it makes sense to hire someone on full time!