You’re Not The Smartest Guy In The Room: Knowing Your Place In Your Company
Time is money and money is time. Unfortunately, we only have so much time to make the amount of money that we want to make. So when one variable depends so greatly on another, how can you increase one without having to increase the other? Well, you can't. If you want to make more money then you need to devote more time. However, no one said that it has to be your time that you are offering up as sacrifice to the wealth and success gods.
It can — and should — be the time of others. The saying “you are your company” is a bit misleading. Yes, you do represent your company and if people don't want to work with you, the founder, then they won't want to work with your company either. But… you alone are not enough to make up your company. You will need help.
The most successful entrepreneurs are those that are the most independent. They are leaders — not because they lead people but because they do what they want, when and how they want it. Nevertheless, the fact remains that you can only do so much with the hours in a day and can only be in so many places at once. Whether you like it or not, you will need to hire employees to do the things that you yourself do not have the time to do.
This is obvious, no argument there. We all understand the concept of hiring and paying employees — no novelty there. The question that remains is whether or not your employees and their skills are being used most efficiently. Or, even more importantly, are you using your skills and your time most efficiently?
Not too long ago, I had a conversation with the CEO of Black Ocean. He was giving me some advice on doing business overseas and was kind enough to put me into contact with some of his friends in Turkey. He is basically living the life that I want to live; he is the CEO of an investment company and has started many other successful companies that are still to this day making him a very nice profit.
He has companies all over the world and somehow manages to stay on top of them all. Mind you, these are not small companies, but rather billion-dollar companies. So I had to ask: how do you do it? How do you have companies across the globe and not become overwhelmed? His response was simple: “I take a new project on myself, put things in order, and then when the time comes I find someone else to run them — someone with more experience and more knowledge in that particular field.”
What stuck out to me most was not that he had other people managing his companies — that was the only conclusion I could have come up with. What was more interesting, in my opinion, was his acknowledgement of other people being better equipped to run the companies that he himself started. The truth is that no one man can run a dozen companies. However, one man can manage a dozen CEOs that manage a dozen companies. This concept relates to every entrepreneur no matter whether they want to have businesses all over the world or just one single company.
You are not the smartest person in the world. You are not the most diligent or the most dedicated. People have this silly belief that in order to become successful and to build wealth, they must always be getting their hands dirty, always on the front horse leading the charge. This is not the case. When you first start a company then the entrepreneur does need to have sufficient skills to play every role — you never know what situation you may be put into and what you will have to do in order to keep things running smoothly. However, once you have a company that is established, you should take a step back and reconsider your role in it if your goal is to maximize growth and efficiency.
Are you the creative mind behind the project? Are you the manager, making sure that every piece fits and runs smoothly? Are you the right person to handle the day-to-day, or would your company be better off having you handle the branding and general direction of the company? Is there any place for you at all in your company or should you hire others to do everything, allowing you to start on another project? I sometimes feel that companies would be better off if their founders would step aside and let people with more experience and more insight handle affairs.
I understand that a company is the entrepreneur's child, his or her baby. But just as in parenthood, there comes a time when you should step away and let things run on their own. As an entrepreneur, you should not allow your ego to get ahead of you. There are people out there that can do what you do better — they just haven't had the opportunity. You've created the opportunity, so now let them have it. Let them make more money for you than you could make for yourself. Devote their time to the cause and then devote yours to another.
In order to maximize efficiency — which is always the goal — you have to accept facts for what they are. You have to look at things rationally, step back and look at the numbers and statistics. Find where the weaknesses are and handle them. Take a look at your role in the company and make sure that it would not be more profitable to have someone else take care of your job while you take care of other things.
In the end, the company needs to do two things: make you money and increase the utility of the world. If you are making the world a better, happier place, are making an excellent profit and are able to do so without having to put yourself on the battlefield, then you have just won the war.