Business Will Humble You

A while back I created a caption for this image saying: “just because I am on my knees does not mean I am down and out. It simply means I am getting ready to fly.”  I recently had to deal with two members of my team leaving the nest. A necessary and natural part of the business journey, but a painful and disruptive one at that. Though I am no stranger to the devastating effects of losing an employee in whom you have invested. I have discovered that I am a very slow learner at times. Spending a considerable amount of time training, refining and developing these individuals have proved to be both strenuous yet rewarding to both me and the business. Allow me to break it down somewhat in order for it to make sense.


Having made the costly mistake of taking on Interns earlier on in my entrepreneurial journey, I justly thought that this time around I have covered my basis and that I am ready to assemble a team to whom I can delegate. At first, it proved extremely difficult to delegate certain tasks. Not because I have an inherent need to control and do things properly, but rather due to the fact that I have a tendency to get things done without following a particular process or system when doing so. I have basically mastered the art of getting to the answer without knowing the steps. And for a long time, I was perfectly happy to work this way as it always meant I could get things done. However, while going through this all-new experience of having to train team members to handle certain duties and responsibilities in the business, I encountered a few snags.


Snag 1 – started in when I had to consciously think about the steps I would follow in order to get my everyday tasks and duties done. This with the intention of training someone else to get it done. As one can come to expect, it took quite a lot of time and effort due to the fact that I am not the greatest administrator. In fact, I am at the direct opposite end of that particular scale.


Snag 2 – arouse when I finally had to sit back and allow the team to discover and figure things out for themselves as they started to own their role in the business. This was particularly difficult in that it forced me to sit on my hands and trust that things will be done, as well as that my way of doing thins is not the only way of getting it done.


Snag 3 – Rather unexpectedly crept up when I had to deal with the contentious issue of responsibility. I say unexpectedly due to the fact that I was not ready to deal with the team putting me in the crossfire when tasks would not be completed. This meant I had to ensure in future that a certain level of accountability and ownership be transferred to the team member when he/she went through the training and handover of duties.


While going through the paces of dealing with these challenges of delegating, training and monitoring of team members; the business began to boom and grow at a rapid pace. The excitement of seeing the team come together, coupled with the joy of the brand grown and gaining traction somewhat seemed to have masked a few underlying pitfalls. Eventually leading to the “great exodus” of two key cogs in the system.

Losing crucial team members have naturally disrupted the growth and operational capabilities of the business. However, it has also ushered in a new sense of urgency and grit that forced me to take stock and reevaluate a number of things; in my personal life as well as in business.


The take away for me in this entire chapter would be that business will humble you. Regardless of how you are, what experience you have, or what you think you have learned from before. Certain lessons one can only acquire when we dare to travel this road. My advice to other entrepreneurs out there, instead of trying to avoid making certain mistakes and instead of focusing on mitigating risk and failure. Expect it, prepare for it, embrace it, learn from it and move forward. Life and business is but a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the lessons take notes during the lecturers. Stay Humble.