When I was graduating, I was asked why I didn’t start my own marketing agency instead of going to work for someone else. “I’m not ready.” was my canned answer. I didn’t think I knew what it took to run my own agency. After nearly a decade, I knew I was ready…. except I wasn’t at all.
Launching my first agency it became painfully clear. There’s nothing like a start-up to remind you how naive you are. I knew everything there was to know about marketing, but I didn’t know the first thing about running a company. I thought most of my time would be spent in creative direction and sales, when most of my time was re-learning the materials in the classes I slept through in business school.
“I don’t need accounting, I’m going into advertising” that is a direct quote from a younger, stupider version of me to Burhan Kawosa, Director of Finance at Wright State University.
I spent a great amount of time building partnerships, recruiting, managing, legal issues, operations, process improvement, and financials. All of which can be taxing, even for those well trained in those areas. Launching the business meant that I had signed up for things that I wasn’t good at and worse wasn’t eager to learn. Paired with that were my two business partners at the time who were equally inept, thus creating what I can only liken to three drunkards trying to look impressive while dancing.
Worse yet, all of the things I had launched the agency to do, I was often delegating those tasks to others who proved far less passionate about them. I watched as my personal relationships were burned to botched presentations. It was an awful feeling.
The team that got you to where you are, won’t be the team it takes to get you to the next level.
I cannot understate the importance of outsourcing the skills that you aren’t good at or in my case finding the right partners. It wasn’t until after exiting my first business and starting over that I understood the importance of having the right team. My business partners clearly understood the importance of keeping me in my swim lane. While I am still not proficient at many skills, they are grooming those over time as opposed to learning while Rome is burning.