When you start a company, it’s not just a way to earn a paycheck — it’s a part of your identity. And it’s deeply personal.
I started Proof in 2010 and from the moment our doors opened, I’ve been deeply invested in the day-to-day. If you’re a business owner reading this, I know you relate to this feeling of never being able to jump off the treadmill. “Keep going” isn’t something you have to tell yourself, it’s a way of life and a necessity for the success of your business.
Business ownership comes with a high level of responsibility and a sense of ownership that can be both a blessing and a curse. Learning how to “let go” and “trust others” is, without a doubt, the most important and also the most difficult task any, and every, entrepreneur is faced with. The “I’ll just do it myself” voice in the back of your head is a difficult one to silence.
But getting out of your own way — and out of the way of others, is essential to your company’s success and your own personal sanity.
As our team left for Chattanooga a couple weeks ago for our annual Vision Quest (think: team bonding sans trust falls), I challenged myself to take this to heart: Let others share ideas before I share my own. Listen more and talk less. Allow others to do their best work, and allow myself to be okay with things not being “my way.”
Full disclosure: This is a work in progress, and I think it always will be. But spending a couple days away at Vision Quest with the team, and hearing what motivates them (and what doesn’t), why they love what they do, and what they’re excited about was the jolt I needed to reflect back on the importance of simply getting out of the way.
As an opinionated, deeply-invested manager of people and projects, I of course always feel the need to jump in, speak first, share my ideas, and to do it “my way.” But my way isn’t always the best way. In fact, it often isn’t.
So I’m challenging myself to listen, hear people out, let other opinions be shared before I share my own, and bluntly, know when it’s best to speak up or maybe more importantly, shut up.
As a business owner, no one will care as deeply or as passionately about your company as you do. Your business is a part of you in a way that only you understand. But the real joy from growing a company is in building a team, and that requires you to encourage ideas, welcome creative collaboration, and create a place where all opinions, especially ones that aren’t your own, are welcome.