One of the columnists I enjoy reading is Iqbal Wahhab founder of Roast Restaurant he’s an entrepreneur with not just lot of business savvy but talks great sense about UK PLC. An article he wrote earlier this year recounted a conversation with potential investors that would allow him to expand by adding a few new restaurants to his portfolio.
Wahhab has, like any good entrepreneur and business owner, listened to those around him especially his first PA who pointed out that he didn’t need to work so hard and get involved with everything since that’s what he paid the other people in the business to do.
He also recognises, something I too have recognised for years, and that’s if you recruit well not only will those people be able to do their jobs well but very likely better than you. It does take a change in mind set to do that though as its not about recruiting more people like ‘me/you’ but people who have the innate and learned skills that I/you don’t or are far more adept at them. Their PEQ™ for those skills would exceed our own for many reasons. And like Michael E Gerber in his book ‘the e myth revisited’ Wahhab says that too many SME owners and entrepreneurs don’t share the workload because someone else won’t do the job as well as them but if you’ve recruited well that won’t be the case – they’ll do it better.
And it was that mind set that gave his investors confidence; going from running a successful restaurant to running a chain of successful restaurants is a big leap. To ensure the chain is managed well there will be an experienced Chief Operating Officer and Operations Managers. As he said there’ll be a lot of running around to do and not having done that before he had no idea whether he’d be good at it.
He also echoes my, and other people’s observations, that all too often where a CEO has climbed through the ranks its hard for them to take that step back and not micro manage everything. It stifles the staff and their talent, they get frustrated and some will stop doing the thinking and managing for themselves. Unfortunately there was a lot of evidence of this during the recessions where business owners and CEOs spent so much time micromanaging they weren’t able to stand back and take a view of the bigger picture. And that created issues; it was like their whole focus was on shaping the one piece of the jig saw puzzle without looking at how that piece fitted into the whole jigsaw.
Wahhab is a very values based business owner, in fact the very reason why he moved into the restaurant business wasn’t because he was a frustrated chef but because he wanted to run a business with a different set of values. And in doing so he knew that he had to recognise both his strengths and weaknesses and then employ excellent people who compliment those weaknesses with their strengths. And those who can share and execute a vision that also becomes their vision. His head chef is part of the SMT and attends all the strategy meetings for example.
And he does this through values – where his business values and personal values are aligned. He believes in authenticity in business and how he, and the people in his business, do business.
His point that’s very well made is that for business owners its also about not packing too much into your day, don’t feel that you have to work really hard all day every day… doing so if often an indication that you aren’t sharing the workload, sharing the ideas and visions and very likely not working on the things that will make a difference. And that going from meeting to meeting to meeting can have limited value if there’s not time to do the work on the business in between yet alone to guide others who are doing the work that comes out of the meetings. Note guide not do…
So what is your bigger picture? Can you really see it or are to bogged down in the detail and minutiae? When did you last take a step back? And if you do has it changed?