2: Formative steps

Having passed the Driving Test, we start to drive on our own and we quickly realise that, despite being able to call on outside help for advice from time to time, we are mostly very much on our own.  In the same way that we are the only person really able to control the car, it is important to realise that we are the person who is responsible for how our business develops.  Choices that we make may be guided, or misguided, by others, but we ultimately decide.

A Rally Team might have a navigator to warn of the next bend ahead, but only the driver actually brakes, changes gear and steers.  In our business life, we may have people who look after finance or sales, but these people need to be controlled in the same way as a brake pedal, gear lever or steering wheel: they are specialists in their particular area but only you have the holistic viewpoint.

This simple fact is one that will be really clear at all the difficult times ahead: the buck will always stop here.  So it is worth realising early on that whilst we would be well advised to delegate tasks, we should never seek to abdicate the elements of our key responsibility as controller, conductor or driver.

This may sound over-simplistic, but if one person has sole responsibility for the gear lever and another the brake pedal, the ability of the driver to control an emergency situation is greatly impaired.

Thus, more practically, rather than trusting others that the finances are alright and that we are selling well, we need to make it our business to know these as facts and to understand them in the context of all the other ones.  The sales guy may think that he’s selling well, but he may not realise he’s shifting all the low margin products while the high margin stock sits on the shelf: he will quite rightly blame you if the company fails because of this.

So, take control from day one and exercise it: YOU have the helm!

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