Nine fantastic tips on how to take over the reins of a start-up

Taking over the reins from a previous managing director who has either left the company, or moved up in the business, can be a daunting task. As a new MD you are likely to face different business challenges than you have previously and you will ultimately be taking over the day-to-day management of the business. This process will include staff and colleagues adapting to you as well as you bringing your own personal ways of working to the role.

That said, the rewards can be great and you will always be learning new and interesting aspects of your business, so here are some handy and actionable hints to make taking over the reins enjoyable.

  1. Trust your team and trust your successor as you step up to the position of managing director.  Your previous MD trusts you enough to fill his or her previous role and you should do the same to your own successor.
  2. Identify further development opportunities for the management team, which will enable them to support you and the continued business growth.  Identify gaps in your team's skills and experience and give them the necessary tools to develop them, whether through specific training (either internal or external) or first-hand experience.
  3. Manage the change both in terms of personalities and expectation, and commit to communicating this effectively to the rest of the company.  Try to overcome any perceptions of your CEO being the boss - constantly reinforce your role and ensure employees know the differences between the MD and CEO roles. It's important to make sure you're aware of your staff's expectations from the both of you.
  4. Ensure reporting is relevant and timely to keep the CEO in touch with the business.  If you don't provide your CEO with the right information, they will just try and find it themselves.  This could be in the form of weekly or monthly face-to-face meetings or ad-hoc informal meetings between the two of you.  Likewise, ensure the rest of the senior management team provide you with up-to-date reports and notes on what you need to know.
  5. Behave like an MD and put your stamp on the business, don't live in the shadow of the CEO.  Often CEOs believe that only they can do the role, so make sure that your CEO has confidence in you by being visible.
  6. Don't take it personally when your CEO pokes their nose in aspects of the business you didn't anticipate.  It's not personal and it doesn't mean that they don't trust you; it's usually out of genuine interest.
  7. Understand the value that the CEO provides in both a strategic and business sense and don't feel shy about tapping into this resource appropriately.  It's always worth remembering that they still have a role within the business.
  8. Ask for help and support - it's not a weakness, it's a sign that you're passionate about the business and value the advice of your team.
  9. Enjoy it. Running a business is challenging but extremely rewarding.

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