Similar to the beginning of the pandemic, I am starting to hear the rumblings of self-doubt in the founder network. ‘Can I really handle this?’, ‘What if we can’t raise?’, ‘Why is team churn so relentless?’, ‘What if costs keep going up?’. And, of course, the line of the moment ‘extend the runway’.
My response: of course you can handle this.
You are a cavalry of innovators driving progress in FMCG and creating an enormous amount of value. However, it is not lost on me that you are net contributing positivity to this industry, and right now, there will be days when you are feeling overwhelmed and not so energetic.
As you have heard me say a number of times before, the asset to protect is your capacity to think, your mental availability, your clarity of thought.
The symptom of no mental availability is when you are super busy but unable to say what you achieved on any given day. This creates a negative spiral of ‘I don’t have enough time’.
So, here are some practical prompts to regain some balance.
Where can you eliminate, delegate and automate?
Eliminate things you should not be doing. Look at every task on your list and ask yourself:
i) Does it really need to happen?
ii) Could it wait 6 months?
iii) Do I need to be the one doing it?
Control team time. Make yourself very available for your team but control the timing. Try putting office hours into your diary for 30mins-1hour every day so people in your team can book in to talk.
Challenge every meeting. Can it be done with an email? Or just a quick phone call? Remove noise from your diary to create open spaces.
Look at team structuring. Is there another structure that can free you up while giving someone else in your team new opportunities for growth?
Be clear with your team about their growth trajectories, development areas and your vision for them in their role. Give them a shared sense of responsibilities in success.
Outsource things that are not core competency. You do not need to manage or develop people in areas that are secondary.
Hold one day in the team diary for no-meetings. Even a 1-2 hour period each day that is sacred (like lunch-times or end of the day for shutting down / resetting for the next day).
Look at every regular activity. Meetings, reports, whatever it may be – do you really need to be doing it? Can you do it half as regularly? Can someone else do it?
Delegate away admin. Look at the lowest value work for you and your team and speak to us about how you can get it off your plate. For reports, repetitive activities and processing, our supply chain clients have been doing this more and more, delegating broader company admin with success.
Leaders: Pick your favourite three and try them out this month. I know it’s not easy at times, and the rollercoaster to mainstream scale can be, well, a rollercoaster. But we are immensely proud and optimistic about every client of YF. The fact that you are working with us shows a willingness to grow, invest and scale at pace. This in itself separates you from the 99%. You will innovate through the ride ahead.
Team members reading this: Support your leaders to deliver the right changes. It can make a huge difference to total company bandwidth, performance and, of course, happiness.
If you are a member of the Community, don’t forget to lean on it
You are the first to hear insights from YF, other brands and partners. Stay close to our blogs, news and attend our events. For example, insights on customer behaviours, supply chain risks, funding opportunities and more are exclusively available to you.
Find opportunities to collaborate with other brands. We have had brands in the Community share everything, even at times team members. Be sure to join our Founders and Leaders WhatsApp and fortnightly chats.
Know your team are supported. Ensure your team is involved in the mentorship programme, or a part of the many cross-company networks the Community hosts. Make sure every member of your team has found their tribe in YF.
Remember your access to discounts and benefits. From Seedrs and OutFund to Hubspot and Unleashed, there are benefits of being part of the group. Get in touch before spending money on anything big – the chances are we have a contact that can help.
Most importantly it is about finding a group of people you can be open and honest with about the highs, lows and realities of being a leader right now. Get stuck in and feel the benefits.
Finally, if you are not a client of YF, and think value can be found working with us, get in touch to understand how we can support your drive to the mainstream – helping you to navigate this rollercoaster.