Three reasons why your business is failing

Let go of the ego…for the sake of your company’s future

Renee Kapuku, Creative Digital Programmes Manager, Supa Network

You aren’t important.

Cue the sound of deflated Founder and CEO egos across the world.

That’s right, I said it.

If you occupy either of these positions, and you find yourself actively looking for talent, you aren’t important. At least, you aren’t as important as you originally thought you were.

There are so many articles, podcasts, and pieces of content which emphasize your importance at the top of the food chain. As much as I love good flattery and indulgence, we are fast approaching a time where the heavily-romanticized singular or dual-founder/CEO narrative in entrepreneurship and the workspace needs to be challenged. That is…if you’re serious about building the nation’s next best organization.

Do you want to know the real secret to building a multi-billion dollar business or organization? The factor behind the success of some of the world’s most prominent brands? The universal truth of success at scale?

You need to hire people better than you.

Lay your preconceptions down on the floor for a moment. This line of thinking will change how you recruit, how you build culture and the progression of your work going forward.

Here’s why.

You can’t do everything

You aren’t superhuman.

I know you really enjoyed believing that you’re a long lost avenger — maybe Dr. Strange’s half-brother or Captain America’s long-lost love child. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at least partially enjoy bursting your bubble.

I do enjoy it, just a little bit. Because I’m bursting yours as well as mine.

You aren’t superhuman, and you don’t have superpowers. That’s the straightforward truth of it all. Recognizing that is crucial to your success because once you realize you can’t quite do everything, you can start finding those who can do the things you can’t get to.

I’m a self-professed polymath, generalist, jack of all trades — you name it. I don’t mean to come across as boastful or prideful, but I tend to like doing and learning many things at once. The problem with this is I can’t do everything — it is impossible, and I don’t have the physical or mental capacity to do it. That means the quality of my general output suffers as a result. I can’t be a marketer, business analyst, and software engineer at the same time. It’s just not possible. Maybe at the nascent stages of building, but at scale, it’s unsustainable. That’s why it’s important to hire someone better than you. You need someone to tick off the boxes on your to-do list that you never quite get round to doing.

Domain expertise is crucial to success

You don’t know everything.

At this point, you probably think this is an extended tirade against founders and CEO. It’s not, I promise — I just want to see you win, and quickly. The strong generalist tendencies of the founder at the initial phase do nothing to take the organization from point A to B or point B to C. In fact, it slows down processes because lack of specialist knowledge will hamper your chances of success.

When I started my first company, I thought I had it all in the bag. I managed marketing, technology (mind you — I’m not a software engineer, my background is History and Policy, and a few savvy youtube tutorials) administration and partnerships. I was a one-woman show. However, when the community grew beyond my capacity I just knew it was time to get more people — not ones that were like me, but better.

I needed a better marketer, a better techie, a better communication manager. That is my secret ingredient in all my work when looking to scale. I actively look for people with domain expertise that surpasses mine. I want people who are smarter than me in a particular area to flourish.

Iron sharpens iron

I love working with people who are brighter than me.

Some people find it intimidating. Others think it directly threatens what they believe they have to offer. As a generalist, I find that it gives me an opportunity to siphon off some of their value, as well as provide value with some of my own knowledge.

When you have simultaneous gaps, it always presents you with an opportunity to build — together.

Could it be that the breakthrough you are looking for in your next hire or project is being blocked by your own ego? Could it be that the person that intimidates you the most is the key player missing from your team? Could it be that rather than dismissing an excellent potential member due to their obvious expertise, you welcome them with open arms to take your vision even further?

Individualism, egoism, and arrogance are some characteristics I often find both in myself and other founders/CEO. There are certain spaces we have to navigate that call for such. But the secret to taking the next step from good to great, and from great to unforgettable, is this:

Lay down your own self-importance and work with those that find strength in your weaknesses.

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