Andrew’s commitment to blazing his own trail has served him well professionally; he turned an obscure college idea, which would later become Blake’s Hard Cider Company, into one of the fastest growing beverage companies in the country. All of this happened while Andrew worked to evolve the fields that raised him and Blake has grown into a leader in the agricultural space and becoming one of the preeminent destinations in the Midwest.
He is also the host of Everything Borrowed, a weekly podcast cultivating conversations on business, life and the in-betweens.
Latest posts by Andrew Blake
- ‘Everything Borrowed’ Podcast Ep. 9: A Conversation with Adam Mark Smith - January 18, 2021
- ‘Everything Borrowed’ Podcast Ep. 8: A Conversation with Grace Keros - January 11, 2021
- ‘Everything Borrowed’ Podcast Ep. 7: A Conversation with Anthony LaVerde - January 4, 2021
There is a peculiar potential of focus that my mind enters into when I have my hands “all-in” on a work project. At times, it’s when I’m busy in a quiet space where I am able to fully immerse and invest myself in a world of creation. During those moments with self, there may emerge a concept or procedure that I am ardently behind on. These are the concepts and creations that I hold stubbornly tightest to, certain that the success depends solely on me, the creator.
After all, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Right?
Outdated cliches aside, if we open our thinking about where our new business ideas and concepts can come from, we simultaneously open avenues for creation in our staff. To do this, we might have to occasionally let go of the metaphorical reins and allow the horses to guide the carriage. Grant your employees some autonomy.
Obviously, the idea of letting go is frightening for everyone, especially entrepreneurs. For many who have ownership and commitment to an idea, they have poured their heart and soul into its development, and the idea of letting go becomes unthinkable.
For some, it may be the ugliest and most counter-intuitive option. With that in mind, we still must consider the possibility that our attachments may stifle the growth of our business instead of encouraging it.
In a professional world that celebrates extreme ownership, discipline, hard work and commitment to the collective mission, this”laissez-faire” suggestion may sound dangerous and, perhaps, irresponsible.
Letting go is not easy. In fact, it has been my toughest transition in self-discipline during my experience as an entrepreneur, but here is the logic:
It is fair to assume that nobody knows our business in its entirety better than ourselves. However, there comes a time during the developed entrepreneurial experience where ownership may have a broad understanding of the business’s entire ecosystem, but no longer can serve as the specialist in any one area.
We go from specialists in our small enterprise to generalists of a larger enterprise. This, friends, is a wonderful thing and the ultimate goal. It allows us to guide the greater direction of our company, create opportunities for our staff, and provide support for the communities that we operate within.
When we hang on to areas of our business that we long ago should have let go, we hinder others’ growth and opportunity to take that ownership and make it their own. How empowering it is for an organization to have tens or hundreds of charged and motivated CEOs of their domains? We want to create an environment where we embolden and empower our organizations to grow and evolve themselves and their ideas and when the time comes, help them to also let go.
When we open our stores in the morning, hire staff in the afternoon and scrub the floors in the evening, we discover the only way to free up time to focus on our own growth is to find like-minded and culturally aligned employees. Then, even more importantly, we discover the need to set up their understanding and responsibilities as the “owners” of their spaces.
There will no doubt be times when we get this wrong, let go too soon, and hand off responsibility to the wrong person. Just as often, we hand off responsibility without properly communicating our expectations and defining what a job well done looks like.
The idea is to let go thoughtfully and mindfully in order to allow yourself, your team, and your organization to learn. You will all need patience as the evolution takes place, but I believe it is the greatest gift we can give our people: the gift of ownership and responsibility. It is often a gift for us as entrepreneurs, too, when we can create space for our next lesson to learn, new area of business to focus on, or new opportunities on the horizon.
Where in your business can you let go and let grow?