Building a company from ideation to sustainable success takes dedication and serious commitment. Building a sustainable company that’s built to last beyond the initial founders is something entirely different and requires entrepreneurs to think longer term and beyond their own abilities. One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is not recognizing their own limitations. The most successful entrepreneurs are those that know what they do well and know what they don’t do well; these entrepreneurs also surround themselves with strong leaders to help fill gaps.
When I started Unified with my co-founders I made the personal commitment that I would eventually transition myself out of the CEO role successfully. I made it well known amongst my co-founders and senior executive team, that if we were not putting ourselves out of a job, then we were not building new leaders inside our organization and we were doing a disservice to our shareholders, our employees and ourselves. Setting this expectation upfront did two things immediately, it told our employees that we had an empowering culture and we encouraged internal promotions, and it forced every leader in the company to empower the next-generation of leaders.
One key area of management that most entrepreneurs overlook is the importance of succession planning. Most entrepreneurs that I know don’t see this as an important element of their business. I couldn’t disagree more with this opinion. I believe your job, especially a founding CEO, is to build premium products that offer value to customers, offer excellent customer service and a customer experience, build an empowering culture that fosters leadership and build a business with long-term sustainability. If you get this formula right, the results will speak for themselves.
I’ve included a couple links on succession planning (Wall Street Journal and McKinsey), if you’re an entrepreneur focused on a building sustainable business than these links are must reads.