Thinking Through Entrepreneur Growth

So I’ve been thinking recently about what it means to grow up as an entrepreneur and a professional. Last week, I published what snorkeling in Costa Rica taught me about productivity.

I’m 32 years old now and have been out of university for almost 10 years. During that time I’ve worked seven different jobs, including for myself. Though if I’m honest, I’ve learned more over the last 2 than I learned in the previous 8 combined.

Now I’m at a crossroads. I have a profitable marketplace that connects businesses to digital marketers, clients that I work with to grow their organic traffic and revenue, a business podcast gearing up for Season 2, and few to no money worries.

Any one of those would be a huge blessing and accomplishment, and so I feel very fortunate.

Business Revenue in 2017 (December not included yet)

So now I am fortunate enough to think about the next stages. I don’t have to slug it out for clients anymore. I’ve had some of the coolest brands come to me in the last 6 months wanting to hire me to consult with them, and I’ve been able to turn them away because a) I knew I could find them a great consultant/agency to work with through Credo and b) I had my hands full up with software and consulting.

In thinking through growing up as an entrepreneur and business owner, I like to think through Michael Berger’s three types of people from The E-Myth Revisited:

  • Tacticians
  • Managers
  • Entrepreneurs

In Michael’s vernacular, most people start businesses because they are very good at doing what the business offers. They’re a great digital marketer, or great at making pies, or can create awesome jewelry and post beautiful photos of it. They’re tacticians who happen to have started a business. Maybe these are the “accidental entrepreneurs”? I’d consider myself a tactician in the niche of SEO, but I also think very strategically about it (which is what my clients now hire me to do for them). I purposefully didn’t start an SEO agency.

Second there are managers. These are people who are great at getting others to march in the same direction, keep on the same trajectory, and manage something through from beginning to end. They’re operators. This isn’t me for the long term, though I have done it and was decent at it I think.

Finally, there are entrepreneurs. These are the big vision casters, the ones that identify gaps in the market and figure out how to take those challenges on. This is precisely who I want to be and what I am working towards, though right now I would still say I am a combo tactician/operator/entrepreneur. I aspire to be like the entrepreneurs I look up to like Richard Branson and Rich Barton.

As I enter into 2017 with a crazy and fantastic 2016 behind us (that also had its challenges, such as depression for the second time in two years and moving to a new city), I’m thinking through what’s next.

Here’s what’s next for me.

Outsourcing and Hiring

In 2017, in order for my business to really grow like I want it to (and I have quite aggressive growth goals), I’ve realized that I have to let go of some of my control issues. This doesn’t mean giving up control of my company or anything of that sort, but rather learning (again) to trust others and empowering them to do great work and think creatively to work on what matters.

I haven’t yet figured out what my first fulltime hire will be (and it’s super scary to be there), so I don’t envision that happening until the second half of the year.

But to start with, I am engaging with a virtual assistant company to help me with some of the more rote tasks that I have been doing myself. I really became ready to do this after reading The E-Myth Revisited, which really got me started thinking about building a scaleable and replicable business.

They’ll be doing things like:

  • Getting new pros live on Credo once they have been approved
  • Scheduling my travel (business and personal) when needed
  • Paying invoices
  • Scheduling podcast guests

We’ll start there and let me get used to it, then I’ll likely expand it to other areas. It’s no abdication – it’s delegation.

Learning More About New Industries

The entrepreneurial bug has bitten me. I love working for myself and the freedom it brings (as I write this, I am in Costa Rica with my family, and I’ve literally traveled around the world while working this year).

In 2017, I want to think about what it means to be an owner, not an operator. What does it mean to think outside of the day-to-day (and maybe have some people to do that) while I get to think bigger and have business assets instead of just a business (or businesses) that I operate day in and day out?

If you follow me socially (especially Twitter), you probably know that I love being outdoors. My wife and I recently moved to Denver partially so that we can be closer to the mountains and do more in them, in all the seasons.

It’s a dream of mine to someday own a business in the outdoors world. It could be a gear company, it could be a services company (how cool would it be to own a guiding company?), or a company that serves those in the outdoor industry who have consumer businesses (since I really enjoy B2B).

Regardless, I’m going to spend time getting more involved in this world in 2017 and going to things like Outdoor Retailer and MountainFilm (I went in 2012 as well) to start connecting more with the business side of a world I love.

What’s Scary

I’ll be honest. Thinking about hiring people is scary. Not because I’m nervous about hiring the wrong people, but because I’ve been burned before by people I thought I was being very good to.

Sometimes when we’ve been thrown off the horse we’re afraid to jump back in. But as anyone who has ever ridden horses before and been thrown from them will tell you, the first thin you need to do when you have fallen off is to get back on. This isn’t to say that you aren’t scared – you’re petrified (I’ve been thrown off a horse literally many times). You’re sure that horse is just going to throw you once again.

So you get back on, but timidly. You learn to trust them again, then you move forward with what you were doing before and work to push past it into new territory.

That’s where I’m going in 2017. I’m being uncomfortable and hoping to come to the end of 2017 better off for it.

Note: some of the links within this post are affiliate links which means if you click through them and purchase something, I’ll receive a commission. But I never affiliate link