Starting your own business is not an easy undertaking, as there is no foolproof method of ensuring it will be a success. Furthermore, entrepreneurs are frequently forced to learn as they go and are often thrown into new experiences and situations. It is all part of the territory.
Patrick Kelley is no stranger to this. Patrick is a Chief Technology Officer and Founder of Critical Path Security and has started several other businesses throughout his career. Quantilus Founder and CEO Debarshi Chaudhury recently had a chat with Patrick to discuss what he has learned over the years as an entrepreneur. Continue reading to discover some of Patrick’s advice and tips that he’s picked up during his time as an entrepreneur. To hear the conversation in its entirety, check out our podcast episode with Patrick, where Debarshi and Patrick discuss their experiences and insights as tech entrepreneurs in greater detail.
When operating a business, it’s tempting for business owners to tackle all tasks and projects themselves. This is frequently the result of two main factors; saving money and lack of trust.
So instead of an entrepreneur hiring someone else to complete particular tasks, they may decide to complete the tasks themselves to save money. Makes sense, right? Well, eventually, as the company grows, the business owner’s time will be more valuable, focusing on tasks that are better suited for their wheelhouse. So instead of creating expense reports or planning social media posts, business owners may discover they should focus their time and energy on bigger picture items, such as creating new product ideas or services.
Furthermore, hiring people who specialize in a particular area can take a business to the next level. So rather a business owner creating an average marketing plan, they could hire a marketing director to develop an in-depth strategy that draws on their years of experience and knowledge in the role. Hiring additional employees is not always an option for smaller companies; however, sometimes, for a business to reach the next level, investments in human capital need to be made.
This leads to the next point, which is a lack of trust. Business owners often put everything they have into their business(es). Accordingly, they are protective of their business and want it to flourish. This can result in business owners not trusting others to work on projects because it’s viewed as an unnecessary risk in their eyes. If the entrepreneur completes the project themselves, they can get it done exactly how they want it, when they want it.
However, Patrick says that business owners need to be continually honest with themselves. For example, suppose an entrepreneur originally went to school to be a marketing professional and did exceptionally well academically. In that case, they may believe they are equipped to lead all marketing efforts in their business. However, doing well academically does not always transfer over to being successful in the real world. Therefore, business owners need to ask themselves if this is truly a strength of theirs, and should they be the one leading this business function.
When it comes time to expand the team, business owners should hire people they can trust. This will reduce a business owner’s stress and workload because they will feel comfortable assigning the employees more responsibility and letting them work more autonomously. Once an entrepreneur has hired rockstar employees, they should then ask the employees, “What do you need to succeed?” Business owners may be surprised by the responses. By prompting employees with this question, it allows them to think without boundaries of what tools would be a great asset to improve the quality and effectiveness of their work.
Often, employees are not asked this question point-blank. Instead, employees have to bring these ideas up on their own terms, which can be daunting because they may worry that they will come across as needy or unappreciative of what they already have. Furthermore, it removes stress on their end because they do not have to worry about setting up a meeting to ask for their request, focusing as much on their delivery, or how they will persuade the higher-ups.
Lastly, it illuminates to the employee that the entrepreneur is invested in the employee and their work. It shows that they care about the success of the employee and the business and communicates that they trust the employee enough to essentially ask how the company can be more successful. The question empowers employees and opens up dialog between different levels of management.
As with most careers, opening up a business is a continuous learning experience. Owners need to be open-minded, collaborative, and inquisitive to increase their chances of running a successful business. Lastly, employees are the backbone of any company, and they deserve to be empowered, consulted for insights and opinions, and trusted to perform. Otherwise, the business may experience quicker turnover and stagnant earnings.
If you are interested in more inisghts on business and technology, be sure to check out our podcast My First Server: An Entrepreneur’s Tech Journey where Quantilus Founder and CEO, Debarshi Chaudhury speaks with fellow enterpreneurs to discuss lessons learned on their path to launching and operating their businesses.