Entrepreneur Workshop #3: Handing over the Reins

“Early on, handing over the reins is learning, as someone who started it yourself, is how to delegate responsibility out. Handing over the reins in some ways is like ok, I’m going to give away marketing. I’m going to give these things away because it's not my core skill set. In other words, these are the things that I’m really good at that I’m going to hold on to. But I’ve got to be able to give those other things away down to the day that you transition out of the business completely and hand over the reins in some ultimate way.”

When considering if it’s time to hand over the reins, you need to examine yourself and where you are in life. Ken and Reed discuss how to keep your values and the company’s culture as you make that transition. Watch below:

Identifying Key Contributors

People define success differently; for some, it’s the state of their bank account; for others, it may be their personal growth. Entrepreneurs experience highs and lows that others do not face. They also have to face self-introspection, considering their skillset and knowing who they need to be inside an organization to maximize its value. 

Understanding your skill set helps identify what strengths you have running your business and what areas you might need to work on or have someone else take on. Entrepreneurs may struggle with not being able to be everything for their company or not being able to do everything as the company grows.

Knowing your weaknesses doesn’t mean you can’t be effective in the organization; it means you learn where you are most effective. Sometimes, the most helpful thing for an organization is to give away the roles you don’t have the skills to manage effectively.

Whatever the reason, you may need to give away some of the responsibilities in the company. Early on, handing over the reins may be delegating responsibility; Ken and Reed use the example of marketing. Eventually, you may be handing over more than that. 

Enthusiasm Versus Teachability

“Hire for attitude, not skillset. Skills can be learned—attitude seems to be DNA.”

Ken and Reed agree that there needs to be a balance between enthusiasm and teachability. 

People who are enthusiastic but not teachable often turn out to be Prima Donnas; people who are teachable but unenthusiastic, you may end up teaching them for longer than you want to. Finding someone with a balance is ideal. 

Trust and Values Alignment

Reed describes taking on a partner as starting a long-term relationship: you may have differences, but you’ve got to be able to trust each other—and you need to be aligned on your core values. You can always resolve issues if you trust each other and have similar values. Whoever you choose, you need to have confidence in them to fill in the gaps in the business. 

“Entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily about “How big can I grow my company? Can I turn it into the next Facebook?” Or whatever your favorite entrepreneurial success story is. We’re investing in people, and if you end up with stocks and bonds and a little bit of money in the bank later, that’s fine. But investing in people is way more important to me.”

In case you missed it, check out Ken and Reed's other conversations, Episode 1: Starting a Business, and Episode 2: Scaling a Business.