Joel Gascoigne has a thoughtful post called “The maker/manager transition phase“. He grapples with the shift from early-stage startup “maker” mode to scaling-startup management mode. It is a major mental shift to go from doing to delegating. Joel includes a great quote from Joe Kraus:
“If you’re a founding CEO, I believe that you are doing your company a disservice if you don’t fire yourself from your skill position. Your goal, crazy as it sounds, is to free up 50% of your time by constantly firing yourself from whatever skill position you’re playing.” (source)
I know this struggle well. I love designing – building – shipping – testing – iterating. But with success comes management tasks, and sometimes other necessities like sales and marketing have to take precedence too (the curse of being a generalist).
But if you are a founder and struggling with this issue yourself, here is one thing to remember: strong, positive leadership is a very rare commodity in the startup world — you’ve all seen the disfunctions out there. So if you can give that gift to your organization, you need to.
The advantage of being an entrepreneur is that while you do have to fire yourself up as you scale your company, at least you can always fire yourself back down to “maker” for your next one.