Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach

Article excerpt

Q: I really enjoyed the first few years of running my own business. Although it was hard work, there was a lot of freedom and it was really exciting but, as we've grown, I'm finding it less rewarding - the work's repetitive, there's lots of red tape and the shareholders are very demanding. Should I quit and start something else? A: Entrepreneurs I meet fall into two categories. Either they welcome their businesses growing, having more security and offloading some of their responsibilities, or, like you, their real passion is for the start of the enterprise, when the risks are greater but so is the sense of achievement in overcoming the odds, and they feel like real pioneers.

You're in good company: when Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou first left easyJet, the airline he'd founded, he was described as a serial entrepreneur, someone good at coming up with ideas and being involved in the early days of a project but less suited to the long haul. He went on to start a number of easy-branded companies: internet cafes, car rental and cruises, to name a few. Similarly, Martha Lane-Fox, co-founder of lastminute.com, handed over the reins of her company after a few years, saying there were others more suited to carrying forward and stabilising the business. Both have what psychologists describe as 'a high autonomy need' and I suspect the same may be true of you. They enjoy coming up with ideas but are wearied by the day-to-day responsibilities of running the business once the launch is over.

But, before you rush into chucking in your company, have a clear think through the implications. For example, you'll need another good idea, capable of succeeding in the current climate and, unless you've made enough money to fund a start-up yourself, you're going to need funding. Banks aren't keen to lend at the moment so you'd probably have to find some shareholders, who are likely to be at least as demanding as your current ones. And, although the early days of a new business can be exhilarating, the long hours and uncertainties can play havoc with health and personal life.

Despite your frustration, have a good look at your situation to identify what is working well and which parts of your role are still satisfying. Could you restructure things so you can do more of what you like doing - and, presumably, do best? A client of mine in a similar position has moved from being MD to being director of innovation in his small company. …

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