This piece is intended for all of you who have a business that’s up and running. But if you’re still at the start-up stage, it may serve as an early warning of what might be in store for you further down the road. So read on..
Bored with my business? With the business that I started, which I shed blood, sweat and tears over, which is like an extra child of mine? Bored with my passion, something that consumes me night and day? With the business that depends on my total, unswerving commitment?
Surely not. And yet, not only does it happen, it’s surprisingly common among the community of entrepreneurs. People who start businesses do fall out of love with them. There are days when they literally dread coming to work. And when boredom and disenchantment strike, they all too often bring with them feelings of anxiety and guilt, even of shame: you’re letting down not just yourself, but the team you’ve recruited and nurtured, who’ve loyally supported you over the years.
Even admitting this to yourself can be difficult, and coming to terms with it even more so. However, in my experience three classic signs appear when this happens to business founders:
- there are parts of the business you no longer fully understand
- you are increasingly meddling in other people’s jobs, especially in the bits of the business you no longer understand
- staff are keen to find you conferences/training programmes/service on industry and trade bodies: in fact anything that gets you out of the office and out of their hair.
Fact number one: a bored entrepreneur is a dangerous beast, capable of destroying much of the value he or she has created
Fact number two: it’s a common error for entrepreneurs to confuse boredom with the business with boredom with their role in the business. Most of us get bored if we do the same job for too long, and the fact that you’re the business founder doesn’t change this. But being bored can in turn lead to a premature sale of the business, and the seller’s remorse that comes after the deed is done.
The third fact is that the personal qualities that drive a successful start-up – the ability to innovate, to turn on a sixpence, to energise others and shake things up, to bounce back from setbacks and rejection – are not the prime qualities needed to run a business in its more mature state. Frantic Frank needs to give way to Steady Eddie. You may not be the right person to run the everyday operations of an established business, and you may have to reinvent your role in the business accordingly.
Some ideas on how to do this follow in the next piece. Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you’re feeling bored with your business, it’s okay. Just try not wreak too much havoc…
By David Molian, visiting fellow at Cranfield University