NixonMcInnes is a tiny company. Teetering on twenty people, we are but a teeny sliver in the global economic market-thingy-bob.
And yet for those of us engaged in this endeavour, and certainly for me as a founder, this small company is *a very big thing*. A big thing in our lives.
As the company matures, I have stopped worrying as much about some things, at least in a detailed and weekly way – cashflow, the administration of our work, if not the results – stuff that is well looked after by team mates much better at it than me.
But there are always things to worry about, a bit like parenting I guess.
The fear I’m snuggling up with the most in more recent times is the fear of getting in the way, of stifling this brilliant thing, and blocking and filling all the spaces that better people and ideas could fill.
This is my new favourite fear, and I feed it with good evidence I have seen and heard of in my travels about agency-land in the last couple of years.
It is both horrible and deeply instructive to hear about well-intending and successful entrepreneurs getting in the way once their companies get to a certain phase or place, and to hear bitter recriminations about ‘how things really get done in company X’.
Given this awareness, I feel I know what I need to do but doing it will be hard.
I feel I need to balance giving what I have to give and being there with consciously making room for the other talented and grown up people in our team to have their impact, make their decisions – good and bad, and live out their ideas.
It is increasingly common that I find myself thinking ‘sheesh, the only difference between me and Tom and some of these guys is that we had the room to make a decision and put it into action’ when asked for my opinion on the right way to approach a problem. This isn’t coming from a critical or patronising point of view for the person asking for advice, but quite the opposite – it comes from a total confidence in their ability to make as good a decision as we ever could.
Given that I intend on being around for the next couple of years at least, this isn’t a problem for today so I can probably stop worrying about it and find something more productive to attend to.
But when the time does come balancing things won’t be simple.
When it is time to get out of the way, if I make way too soon, I risk moving too fast, leaving people feeling abandoned or uncared for, or leading to questions about my real intents or commitment. ‘Does he just want out?’.
And if I move too slowly, I risk poisoning everything that has been good about what we’ve built together. That would be truly sad…
I am completely committed at NixonMcInnes for its next phase of evolution, and having more fun than I ever have, learning more, and often feeling fulfilled. These are, touch wood, good times.
But my small company MD fear-du-jour is of spoiling the thing I worked so hard to forge by not knowing when to get out of the way. I must remember this when the the time comes.