If you want to be a boss, you have chosen the wrong career
Hiscocks believes that having the right top team in place is as crucial as having a strong business plan – particularly when seeking finance to develop a business. Enlisting people who have a genuine passion for the business idea is essential, as is ensuring that all members of the team are on the same page when it comes to objectives and expectations.
He says: “The most important thing any professional investor will be looking at is the team: I know this from my work as director of a seed fund that invests in early-stage companies. I want to look the team in the eye, and ask whether they have the commitment, dedication and passion for the business that will get them through all the problems they encounter.”
In making the leap from a start-up to a mature company, entrepreneurs have to cope with profound change in their roles and responsibilities. From being personally responsible for sales, marketing, accounting and myriad other parts of a small business, they have to concentrate on providing leadership for a disparate workforce.
Gaining these skills is crucial, Hiscocks believes. He says: “Fifty years ago we thought leaders were born, not made. Since then we’ve realised that this isn’t the case: we can understand how leadership works and teach people to do it more effectively. One of the most important elements in doing that is to understand what’s known as the emotional intelligence behind how we work, think, respond to external events and relate to other people.
“You have to make sure you’re working with your team – not telling them what to do, but providing them with the assistance they need to fulfil their roles. Being a leader isn’t about being the boss. It’s actually the toughest job of all, because you have to help everyone else.”
The final of Hiscocks’ five lessons is perhaps the simplest, yet it is, again, one that many companies wish they’d taken to heart before acting on their expansion plans. “Focus, focus, focus,” he says. “If you try to do too many things, you’ll spread your thin resources even thinner and you won’t get anywhere. Find out what you’re best at, and stick to it!”
Photograph: By Nic McPhee