Are you running your business or is your business running you?

Are you running your business or is your business running you?

Jon Kandiah, the Scale up Strategist for

It can be hard to grow to £1m revenue, let alone scale to £5m. Often it boils down to the company running the founder, rather than the founder running the business.

What do I mean?

If you start a business, you do it because you are passionate about it. However, you have to do many more things than you had originally anticipated, including things you don’t enjoy such as tax, lead generation, supplier contracts, accounts, and employee benefits.

It can be a juggle to balance time on what you love with what’s essential. And in my experience, this is where things start to go wrong and the business will start to run you.

Sometimes it’s very subtle – letting a small thing you don’t want to do slip one day, and promising to catch up on it another. But by giving yourself permission to do this you’re becoming comfortable about letting things slip. Things compound and you can get so far behind that catching up isn’t a possibility.

So what's happening?

We all go into business with a level of knowledge, skills and experience that get us so far. But eventually you reach a point where you are operating beyond your current ability. The more people you have involved, the more HR related matters there are to address, the more customers you have the more suppliers you rely on, and the more complex the cash flow becomes and so on.

So what's the solution?

Stepping back, there will have been a time when things were working well. Generally that period of time will reflect the skills and knowledge you have.

The phase you are in now, involves things you have no experience or knowledge of. It’s this skills gap that restricts your ability to perform and inhibits company growth. In short, in order to grow the business and take control again you have to grow too.

So how do you do it?

  1. Firstly you need to look at what’s preventing you from achieving goals. Is it time to get a chartered accountant with experience of scaling up involved in your accounts? Or do you need to get a specialist marketing agency involved who will achieve more with less? These sorts of questions will help you work out what skill is core to your business, and you as a leader.
  2. Be honest. Focus on your skills as a leader, manager and influencer. In my experience, this is the most difficult area of personal development. But if you are honest about what it will take to move your business on then you will either commit to changing yourself or seek out others with the experience to do it for you.
  3. Acquire knowledge. When you know what skills you will focus on then you need to find good sources of knowledge to help you improve, practise, gain feedback, adjust and then practise some more. It’s an important investment in the future.
  4. Be selective. Build a peer group that you trust and seek out specialist incubators and growth programmes like the University of Hertfordshire Incubator or the London & Partners Business Growth Programme.
  5. Practise using your knowledge and get feedback. Be open with your team about what you are doing and why. They will feel braver about learning and changing themselves if they understand the value they are creating.
  6. Get support. You don’t have to go it alone. It can be daunting so a coach or mentor can help you make the decisions and then hold you to account, and determine how you develop in response to feedback.


Developing strong leadership skills will create a strong foundation for scaling-up your business. Remember that as you scale-up and the number of people and relationships involved rises you’ll need to re-evaluate skills again so you continue to grow successfully. Sustaining performance is the business leader’s greatest challenge but with this approach to continuous development you can win.

A more detailed version of this blog is available at Minute Hack:

If you need help overcoming the hurdles of running a business and getting to a position where you can scale then contact us for a free consultation <details>

Jon Kandiah
Jon Kandiah

Having spent 25 years in senior executive leadership roles, transforming large-scale businesses such as EE, T Mobile, Orange and Virgin Mobile (which achieved £500m revenue in 5 years and a £850m flotation); I have developed a range of tried-and-tested strategies, coaching and mentoring techniques that will equip your business and team with the skills necessary to scale up.