So you started a company. You've seen significant grow. Your teams are bursting at the seams to keep up. You need to go on a hiring spree to keep up with the growth. It was your idea and your execution that got you to this point, but investors have suggested someone else may be better suited to take your company to the next level.
Many entrepreneurs will find themselves in the place when they see rapid growth in their company but aren't comfortable with new responsibilities that come with it. That's because not all founders are meant to be CEO's during a rapid growth phase and even less are meant to lead a large corporation. The tech space in particular is littered with founders who've stepped aside to focus on the product or marketing while a seasoned CEO handles all the challenges that come with growth. On the other hand, some founders find themselves resisting the move away from their leadership role when they have the strategic vision for the company and the stomach to see it through.
Know Your Strengths AND Weaknesses
Are you the right person? This question invariably comes down to knowing your strength and weaknesses as a person and a leader. Things are tough enough in the good times as your company is enjoying growth. You will deal with growing pains ranging from office space contract negotiations to HR headaches, but these are good problems to have. It's when the growth slows down and the company see a decline in business that a CEO's weaknesses really show through.
As a CEO and company founder, take a personal audit of your strength and weaknesses to identify people you need around you to plug any deficiencies. Start by understanding your professional weaknesses. You may be an amazing product development person but a poor communicator or lack organization experience. Rand Fishkin of Moz wrote a letter to his community of customers explaining, "being challenged to such a degree on issues like organizational development, HR, conflict resolution, process building, and morale that I feel out of my depth, and poorly suited, especially from an emotional resiliency perspective, to meeting my obligations." It was after this realization that Rand gave up the reigns to his second in command, Sarah Bird, who focused on organizational aspects of the company while Rand focused on product development.
When to Hold On and Double Down
Just because you may not have all the experience in the world or absolutely love HR doesn't mean you can't be a successful CEO. Many CEO's grind day in and day out to achieve rapid growth success without succumbing to pressures to give up the reigns. It's these entrepreneurs who are driven by their vision and willing to roll up their sleeves to do whatever it takes to lead their company to the promise land.
Per Wickstrom is a serial entrepreneur who started out his career as an addict. After beating his addiction, Per explains being "inspired and powered by my higher calling, I took a loan from the bank and started my own rehabilitation center that followed my own curriculum. Three years later, I run the largest holistic rehabilitation center in the United States that helps thousands of people every year recover from addiction and start a new life."
Whether you're a CEO who has given up the reigns to focus on your strengths or have held on through the good times and bad to achieve your vision, like Per, there's no right or wrong way. There's only success or failure. Audit yourself to determine what's best for you and your company. Ask people close to you to audit what you're good at and not so good at. It's through these realizations that a CEO can determine to stay on that horse or hang up the reigns.