Your role as an entrepreneur

Decrease risks and increase options

By Allon Raiz

Being an entrepreneur is a complex endeavour. On an average day, you will find yourself dealing with customer issues, staff issues, cash flow issues and the odd crisis. In the flurry of activity, it’s easy to lose your way in terms of how to frame your role as the head of a growing business.

A method that’s kept me sane over the years has been to create frameworks that guide my thinking and declutter the chaos of activities into simple concepts. One of those frameworks is the “only two jobs” framework. Every day as an entrepreneur, I spend my day doing only two things:

  1. Increasing opportunities inside and outside of my business
  2. Decreasing the risks inside and outside of my business

Increasing opportunities
A business is a fluid organism. It morphs according to the environment in which it works and grows in response to individual personalities and culture. Your role as the founder is to ensure that your business takes advantage of employees’ skills and the organisation’s resources. If, for example, you have an in-house designer who also has video-editing skills that presents a relatively inexpensive opportunity to create video content in house instead of outsourcing it to another supplier at an additional cost.

By identifying the internal skills or additional uses for existing company resources within your business, you will create more opportunities for cost saving or new sales. Your role is to search for these opportunities and, once identified, take advantage of them and capitalise on them. This is not only good for your business, it’s also good for the employee because it enhances their job satisfaction and provides them with the desired growth in their role.

As the leader of your business, your role is to create efficiencies in your business based on new information, new learnings and more experienced staff. There are always opportunities to simplify and streamline internal processes, for example, by moving experienced staff into another department that needs their skills, giving staff who are innovative more of a voice or designing software tailored to your organisation’s needs for data capturing, storage or reporting.

External opportunities
Make sure you are “plugged in” to trends because your responsibility as the leader of your business is to identify and predict where the market is moving. Your business always needs to remain relevant to the market in which it operates in order to survive. If, for example, you are a wooden tennis racket manufacturer and graphite is now being used as a new lighter material, your role is to identify graphite as a new product opportunity that you should start investing in and using to create new products.

Internal risks
Identify internal risks within your business, predominantly around key employees leaving. Do an analysis to identify possible risks that you could face if a key employee were to leave you.

Ask yourself:

  • Who else in the business has a good understanding of the employee’s tasks and how they execute them?
  • Who would be able to step in and take over the employee’s tasks until you find a replacement?
  • Do you have a comprehensive handover process in place for when the employee leaves?
  • Has the employee compiled any process documents and training in order to ensure a smooth handover process for their replacement?

There are always internal risks in a business. Your role as leader of the business is to predict which risks are more likely to happen and put in place the mitigation strategies to reduce the likelihood and impact of any of these risks.

External risks
External risks mainly relate to your competitors, technology and the economy. Ask yourself daily: Who or what is going to take us out? Evaluate which of your competitors or what technology could threaten your business’s existence. When driverless cars launch in the future, will there be a need for Uber? There is always a surprising relationship between what seems to be an obscure technological advancement and what seems to be an unrelated business.

Watch your competitors closely, especially regarding what they are doing and saying. Do not react, rather thoughtfully respond or do not respond at all.

Running a business is complex and becomes more complex as your business grows so the more tools you have to simplify your role, the easier it will be for you to run your business. The framework of “only two jobs” is a powerful tool to support you on your journey.