Quit the juggling act: why founders must learn to let go

In the words of Elsa of Arendelle, "Let it go, let it go!"

It’s not easy for startups and small business owners to let go and relinquish responsibility. Not when they've put their heart and soul into it. But hanging on for too long can hinder business growth.

As part of our ongoing Founder Stories series, we ask every founder to share the biggest mistake they’ve made as an entrepreneur. 

One mistake that several founders we spoke say they’ve made is - trying to do everything. They tried to juggle multiple tasks all at once rather than delegate to others. Why is that? 

Startup culture has become synonymous with the ‘all-hands-on-deck approach’. Often, relying on a small team or one individual to wear different hats. 

It’s great in the beginning; it minimises cost and gives individuals a chance to shine. But every startup reaches a tipping point when it’s time to invest in more resources and really start delegating. 

Four reasons why founders need to let go

1. A ball will drop

Those juggling too many tasks tend to rush to get the tasks done. And those that rush risk taking their eyes off the ball. Trusting someone else to take on a task can help prevent mistakes. Busy founders need someone to keep an eye on their blind spot.

2. To avoid burnout

Euan Cameron, founder & CEO at Willo, admitted that “trying to do too many things - just leads to exhaustion.”

Thankfully, more founders are opening up about the realities of entrepreneur life and no longer glorifying 'the grind'.

The wellbeing of teams has been a hot topic during the pandemic (and for good reason), but founders are human too. So, founders, take care of yourself too.

3. Because you can't be good at everything

Despite initially trying to do "absolutely everything”, Tim Boote, founder of Protein Rebel, realised, “it’s important to know my strengths and weaknesses, and as such, I need to know when to let go and find an expert.”

Why try to be a jack of all trades when you could trust a master of one to do the job and do it well?

There's a reason why founders should surround themselves with smart people. Christina MacLeod, founder of Edinburgh Women in Space, puts it nicely.

Wisdom and power exist in groups, and I have found it so valuable to speak to my teams about my initial idea and let them develop it from there.”

When founders create a positive company culture, they create a safe space to share knowledge. Someone in the team may have an idea that could drive the business forward.

4. To scale

Ultimately founders have limited time, even when there's more than one of them. A key aspect of startup life is scaling up, and that’s when you need to build a team of specialists who can make things happen. 

So, founders, the advice from fellow founders is to stop trying to do everything. Instead, delegate tasks to others whom you trust to do those tasks well. Quit the juggling act, for your sake and the business.