Why Startup CEOs Need To Understand That Their Business Isn’t All About Them

Why Startup CEOs Need To Understand That Their Business Isn’t All About Them

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It’s tough being the founder of a startup. You’re often holding the weight of an entire business on your shoulders, made heavier by the expectations of shareholders and colleagues alike. No wonder 99% of entrepreneurs end up failing or burning out – for some; the stress, pressure, and long hours are together simply too much to bear.

In light of this, it’s also not surprising that those who do manage to get their startup off the ground might occasionally display the tendency to be a little overprotective of it. After all, they’ve done what few others can – they’ve built a successful business. Can they really just step back and let someone else take the reins?

Yes – and they should.

Here’s the thing about startups – in their early days, it’s only natural for the founders to have their fingers in every piece of pie that passes through the organization. It’s necessary, really; in order to keep a nascent business afloat, the executives must be passionate, dynamic, and hardworking. There comes a certain point, however, when one must learn to delegate and move forward.

If this does not happen, a business business is never going to truly grow.

I think Akervall Technologies, a tech startup based out of Southeast Michigan, is a shining example of this principle in practice. Originally, founder Sassa Akervall was running the company out of her home, where she and the startup’s other eight employees worked in excess of forty hours a week. Not exactly ideal conditions by any stretch – and it was taking its toll.

That didn’t become evident until the company began to stretch its legs, however.

“We were basically sitting on top of each other’s laps,” Akervall told SE Michigan Startup. “Once we got our own facility, it was like turning on a faucet.”

The company experienced a period of unprecedented growth. Up to the point at which it made the move, the company was enjoying an average revenue increase of 30% annually. Once it moved into its new office in 2014, that number spiked to almost 50%; the company also doubled its staff.

The success of Akervall Technologies comes as a result of many different factors, but what may be the most influential, notes SE Michigan Startup, is Akervall’s mentor, Wayne Brannon. A former General Motors Executive, Brannon took Akervall under his wing, guiding her growth as a CEO. It was his guidance that helped her grow into more of a leader – and helped her let go of the desire to micromanage.

“I have gone from a management role to a leadership role,” said Akervall. “It was hard for me because I had to let some things go. He helped me think like a leader.”

It can be tempting to want to micromanage everything within your startup as a founder. After all, it’s your baby – you created this business with your own blood, sweat, and tears. If you leave things to someone else, they might get it wrong.

Follow Akervall’s example – if you don’t stop trying to control everything within your startup, it may never get off the ground.


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