Yoco began as most startups do – in a small office, with two tables, and a handful of people who were crazy enough to take the leap. We had job titles for the outside world, but internally, every person wore a hundred hats before lunchtime to get the job done.
There were days when Lungisa Matshoba, our CTO, and I hopped onto sales calls alongside our team to encourage prospective merchants to come onboard. I always have fond memories of that period of Yoco’s history. It’s something to think that what we were pushing for in a month back then, in terms of new merchants, is something we now do in a day. It set the tone of rolling up our sleeves and fighting for every new customer. It built strong foundational relationships with both team members and customers.
However as Yoco matured as a business I gained the ability to step back from the frontline and entrust those talented to scale our operations. And with that I am able to focus effort on mastering what it is that I do best for Yoco.
Part of the reason we developed the Yoco Formula is that it prioritises growth both on personal and professional level. One of the values we live by is, “master your craft”.
It draws attention to the importance of going deep into your domain and the underlying skills needed to do so. Business owners are often required to be jack of all trades in the early days. Learning to delegate at the right time in your journey will leave valuable space open to focus on what you truly love in the business.
Master Your Craft
No matter how many people you hire or how much you scale, as a founder and owner you likely feel a sense of responsibility for all the moving parts of your business. With that comes the temptation to want to control all of it. It’s unnerving and risky to let someone else take the driver’s seat, no?
So what often happens is that entrepreneurs develop a tendency to over-extend themselves, coming from a core drive of responsibility and accountability. From product to marketing to finance and customer engagement, you are spread thin across the business, doing everything you can to keep your head above water.
Hat wearing is necessary at the beginning and a great way to see end to end of the business, driving it where it needs to go. Over a sustained time it can become draining, with effectiveness naturally starting to wane. These are the signals that it is time to start taking a step back and bolstering the team with new talent to accelerate things forward.
The question is how do you stay connected as you take a step back?
The answer is figure out what you love to do in your business and then dedicate time to mastery in that space.
One of my favourite business writers and CEO coach, Lex Sisney, refers to this as your genius zone. The zone where you can effortlessly add the most value and where you derive the majority of your energy as an individual.
It’s important to carve out space to play in your genius zone. It starts with taking control of your calendar, diary, and time. With smart, simple boundaries, you can begin to make space to work on things that intrigue and challenge you. In this system, you have the opportunity to define what you like and don’t like, what you are good at and what could be better off in someone else’s hands or genius zone. The challenge is learning to let go.
The inverse of this value are the consequences you might face for not finding ways to make space to master your craft. Burnout becomes a threat as you face energy drains trying to do too much of everything else, and too little of what energises you.
You need time to develop and build your skillset, and to set your own goals and objectives.
The second is that your business will naturally suffer. Giving a disciplined handful of tasks focus over multitude, is significantly better for effectiveness and energy. As much as mastering your craft will keep you inspired and sane, it will also create room for your business to become truly excellent at each individual part.
So my challenge to entrepreneurs as the year closes is to spend time reflecting on your work over the last few months – what truly brought you joy and energy to work on, and how can you find ways to do more of it?
Choose your craft and find ways to master it.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Daily Maverick print edition, DM 168, in December 2020.