The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What’s something you wish you knew before starting your business?” is written by Susan Drumm, CEO advisor and leadership coach.
When you start a business, you learn many things by trial and error.
You might spend money on the wrong things, market to the wrong people, or rent the wrong space. But even if you’re not doing everything quite right, you know you need to work exceptionally hard. In working with hundreds of entrepreneurs as a leadership coach and consultant, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.
To make your business successful, you need to stay up to date on developments in your industry and provide your customers with amazing services and products. While those things will definitely help nudge your business into the black, the skills you need to start a business are very different than the skills you need to grow a business.
Starting a business requires insight, passion, tenacity, and a bit of healthy risk-taking. It requires logistical management, flawless organization, and lots of creativity. If you harness your insight and creativity correctly and work hard, your fledgling business will find its feet and take root.
Once you’ve established yourself in the marketplace and found your customers, it’s very easy to think, “Well, if doing A brought me this much success, I’ll just A for four hours instead of two. I’ll hire someone else to A alongside me.” Maybe you’re tempted to work longer hours, or simply make and sell more of your product. Maybe you pitch yourself to more media outlets or do your own social media marketing.
But as leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith said, “What got you here won’t get you there.” In other words, growing a business is different than starting a business.
All of that tenacity and hard work won’t really help your business grow, per se. If you work hard and you’re good at what you do, you’ll have more clients and customers than you have hours in the day. And while that’s a lovely problem to have, it’s still a problem. When you have more customers than time, you don’t have a successful business, but rather a stress headache and an unsustainable work–life balance.
If you want a business that can run on its own—making money while you sleep—you need to acquire a new set of skills. If you want to grow and scale your business, you’ll need to be able to communicate your vision in a way that keeps your team excited. You’ll need to hire the best people, delegate effectively, and hold your team accountable.
In order to grow your business, you must be able to lead. And in order to lead, you must master the art of relationships.
Think about it. Every successful business is built on relationships—relationships with vendors, relationships with clients and customers, and relationships with contractors and employees. If you’re ready to move from the starting-my-business column to the growing-my-business column, change your mindset and start honing your relationship skills.
Instead of thinking, “How will I find time to do this?” think, “Who can I hire to help with this? Who do I know who’s an expert?”
Instead of, “I delegated this task and it turned out horribly,” think, “How can I communicate my desired end result better and clearer?”
Instead of wondering, “Why is my team so bored and listless?” think, “How can I get them excited about our mission so they’re more engaged and committed to what we do?”
If you can get your relationships right, you can get your business right—simple as that.
Your business depends on your ability to hire, inspire, and lead others—the skills of leadership. If there is one thing that every entrepreneur I’ve worked with wishes they had done when starting their business, it’s this: Invest earlier in growing your leadership skills and capabilities, and success will follow.
Susan Drumm is a CEO advisor and leadership coach with over 20 years of experience leading teams and entrepreneurs to exceed their potential. She’s coached C-Suite executives from Conde Nast, L’Oreal, and Viacom, and now she offers her best tools and resources to help entrepreneurs build rock-star teams to support business growth at SusanDrumm.com.
Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question: What’s something you wish you knew before starting your business?
The Painful Truth About Starting a Business by Suneera Madhani, founder and CEO of Fattmerchant.
This Should Be Your No. 1 Focus When Starting a Business by Christy Johnson, founder of Artemis connection.
The Easy Way to Stop Wasting so Much Time by Greg Sewitz, cofounder of Exo.
The Real Reason so Many Businesses Fail by Catherine Bell, cofounder of BluEra.
Here’s How to Know Your Business Is Headed for Disaster by Andrew Ackerman, managing director of Dreamit New York.
Here’s Why You’re so Discouraged With Your Career by Simon Berg, CEO of Ceros.
Doing This for an Hour Each Day Can Make You More Successful by Dennis O’Donnell, cofounder ofPAW5andClear-Coat.
Why This Entrepreneur Doesn’t Regret Leaving His Successful Business by Chris Boehner, founder and CEO of Western Natural Foods.
The Most Important Thing You Can Do Before Starting a Business by Josh Reeves, cofounder and CEO of Gusto.
The Important Business Lesson Too Many Leaders Ignore by Aidan Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO of Reincubate.
What Google and Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Success by Alexander Goldstein, founder and CEO of Eligo Energy.
Here’s Why You Should Start Working Less by Erik Severinghaus, founder and CEO of SimpleRelevance.
The Dangerous Mistake Too Many Leaders Make by Fayez Mohamood, cofounder and CEO of Bluecore.
The Biggest Challenge Every Entrepreneur Faces by Jeff Ruby, founder and CEO of Newtopia.
Here’s What Happens When Your Company Only Focuses on Data by Allison Berliner, founder and CEO of Cataluv.
What Every Entrepreneur Should Be More Prepared for by Feris Rifai, cofounder and CEO of Bay Dynamics.
Why Virtual Offices Don’t Work by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.
The One Quality That Defines a Great Entrepreneur by Anthony Katz, founder of Hyperice.
What Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Apple by Michael Maven, founder of Carter & Kingsley.