The 4 things I was worst at when running my business
As a founder, your job really is to deal with problems. It's unlikely that you will be able to focus your time on all the areas of the business that are going well. The reality is, you are the firefighter. And not just any fires, but only the fires that the rest of the team can't put out. But you only find this out once you've started. Cruel aye?
Anyway, you could be forgiven for thinking that as Chief Firefighting Officer (I always wondered what CFO stood for...) you need to be bloody fantastic at everything. That couldn't be further from the truth. Really you just need to be brilliant at a handful of things that are important to where you want your business to get to. That might be brilliant at client servicing, or signing clients, or driving attention, or inspiring the team. So that leaves a whole host of things that you can be rubbish at, but still be successful.
I had quite the list to choose from, but managed to get it down to just 4, for the sake of my morale. Here are the 4 things I was worst at when running Molzi.
Whaaaat?? Founders are all massive risk takers. Nope, not me. I like safety and security. One of the reasons I waited until I was 33 before starting Molzi. But risk taking is essential if you want to grow your business quickly. Try stuff and double down on the things that work and quickly quit the things that don't. Fortunately, while I didn't have risk taking skills, I at least had the self-awareness to know I didn't. So I created various coping mechanisms to let me be a risk-taker-lite.
I had about 15 cash flow forecasts that showed varying stages of potential disaster. These fed off a live forecast and P&L meaning whenever I had a risk taking opportunity I could see what the very worst case scenario would be. I also created a budget in the P&L to be specifically used for risks. We called it the bet budget, and the fact that the money was already 'spent' on the P&L allowed me to feel safe to use it. I wrote a blog with a bit more detail of my worrying here.
The actual product
One of my best attributes in a service business is being able to spot a client need and build a product and narrative to make it highly saleable. One of my worst attributes is actually executing it. Despite running an Amazon marketing agency for 6 years, I still have no idea how to do any of the actual work. Despite writing a blog for the last 6 months and reading every article I can find about SEO, I still have no idea how to do it. My brain is good in short sharp bursts but terrible at actually learning things. The Molzi team even knew to send me emails with one or two sentences rather than long paragraphs as they know I'd switch off.
Trade shows were fun but not so fruitful.
I really hate networking. Like real life, in person networking. That's not to say I don't like people. I love chatting to people when I know that they want to chat to me. But the thought of visiting a trade show and having to approach people brings me out in a cold sweat.
Early days of Molzi we visited trade shows like CES in Las Vegas and IFA in Berlin. Both were a lot of fun, but didn't reap any financial rewards purely due to my anxiety of having to introduce myself to people.
Clearly I don't have the same issue on LinkedIn (shout out to all who I have spammed over the years). And if real-life trade shows had been our only source of leads when starting Molzi, I really doubt we'd have made it past year 1.
Thinking of peoples needs
Sounds bad. Is bad. I'm not very good at putting myself into other peoples shoes. As the Molzi team started to grow, I had to make a real effort to try and understand what motivated people. My assumption initially was that everyone must think like me, and I'd struggle to work out why people wouldn't be happy despite getting a pay rise or commission.
My lack of ability in this area was one of the main drivers of feeling it was the right time to sell my business. We had a team of 80 people, and I wasn't very good at managing them.
So there you have it. I'm sure many will have some more to add to the list. But lets avoid ruining my summer and just stick with these 4 for now.