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From business owner to business leader


Often the skills required to get a business off the ground and growing are not necessarily the ones needed to turn it into a long term sustainable business. 

A business is frequently started by an individual who has an idea and through sheer motivation, desire and drive, takes that idea and turns it into a business that survives the early days and begins to grow. 

These skills may well be sufficient to maintain the growth of the business for a period of time, many years in some instances, but ultimately the business needs more than just sheer determination to enable it to flourish. 

As the business grows and begins to employ people, the business owner needs to recognise the skills that got them to where they are now need to develop further. They need to take on much more of a leadership role if they want the business to move forward. 

The first sign a business is too reliant on the owner is when you start to see the business growth slow or even reach a plateau. Everything revolves around the owner and rather than this being an advantage, it’s a drag on the business. 

This is typically called The Owners’ Trap. It happens when the business owner has the most industry knowledge within the company, so customers want to talk to them. They then get involved in delivering the service and the customer is happy so buys more from the owner, and the cycle repeats. 

So how does the owner start to get themselves out of the trap? Perhaps more than anything else, they need to recognise their own limitations and start to trust their people. 

This is the first stage in making the transition from a business owner to a business leader. The phrase “spending less time in the business and more time on it” sums up what’s needed perfectly. To become a leader, the owner needs to create the vision and set the direction of the business, then engage and involve their employees in the implementation of the strategy.

Do you recognise this transition? Do you think it’s necessary?