Management

4 Ways to Transition From Founder to Successful Manager

4 Ways to Transition From Founder to Successful Manager
Image credit: Andrew Rich Photography

All entrepreneurs dream of founding a startup that turns into a successful venture. But when forming that dream, it’s easy to overlook what will become of your business -- and your role within it -- once that dream becomes reality.

As customers start rolling in, your company needs leadership and a strategy to stake out the road ahead. In short, it no longer needs a founder; it needs a manager.  

Yet management can be a struggle. However, if you own your new role, you have a great chance to fulfill the promise of the startup and start building a real legacy.

Related: 8 Tips to Help First-Time Managers Thrive

Here are a few ways to ease your transition from founder to manager:

1. Build a mission, not a vision.

Starting a business is all about your vision and discovering whether your theory flies in the real world. But once your startup is established, you need to focus on your mission: How you’re going to apply your concept and make it work. Use your initial momentum and build a step-by-step action plan to drive it home.

2. Replace your binoculars with bifocals.

Success isn’t about figuring out the landscape; it’s about understanding your neighborhood. So make your presence known and claim your niche by mastering the details.

Related: 4 Steps to Getting the Best Out of Your Employees

Focus on fine tuning and positioning. You already have a good idea of the product, the market and the competition, so make the most of it. Look for opportunities to tweak and improve each individual process you have and pick up even more momentum. Each obstacle is a chance to improve your value proposition and drive up more sales.

3. Scrap the drawing board.

You’ve already proven yourself and your vision, so stop trying to move backward. The manager’s focus should be on improving what already exists rather than reinventing the wheel with each new crisis that comes along.

4. Surround yourself with brilliance.

Managing an organization is all about people skills and trust. As your organization grows, you need to let go of the reins and trust new voices to handle different aspects of your company. Empower your recruiter to find capable people who match the mindset and culture of your existing team. Prioritize attitude and character over specific skills: good people will rise to your level of expectations.

Once you’ve assembled a quality team, make sure you use it to your advantage. Delegate as much as possible, and trust that what must be done will be done. Don’t micromanage. Instead, trust and follow up -- that’s what good managers do.

Good managers don’t have to be focused on direction or top-down bossing around. What’s important is finishing what you’ve started. There are plenty of loose ends in the early stages of a startup, and it’s easy to lose track of them when you aren’t focused beyond the big picture. So don’t gaze at the horizon when problems need solving in your own backyard.

Being a founder is about formulating your idea and vision for the future. Being a manager is about something deeper than that; it’s your chance to perfect everything. With the right effort and the right focus, you can take your early success and turn it into a long-lasting triumph. 

Related: 3 Common Leadership Mistakes That Make a Miserable Company Culture