There comes a time in a company’s evolution when the Founder & CEO needs to step aside. It’s a hard thing for many founders to do–hand over the keys or entrust his “baby” to someone else–but it’s a necessary step in the scaling process.
Recently, Dustin Snell of software giant Network Automation told his story in this Bloomberg BusinessWeek article. He built the company, turned the reigns over to the CFO and transitioned to chief software architect, working remotely and using some of his free time to take on a handful of management and technology consulting projects. Snell says the outside work helped him better understand the challenges and opportunities other businesses were facing. He returned as CEO and has built a $6 million business.
Comfort with risk-taking, experience spurring innovation, and customer and product knowledge are very important to growing companies, and usually their founders are best-equipped to provide those elements. There’s a quality called ‘founder’s courage’ that you don’t have in somebody who’s hired to come in and run things. The outside professional is competent at maximizing profit and taking a company to scale, but it’s much harder to teach innovation than how to maximize profit.