The Control Trap

It will add risks and limit the growth of your business.

This post is part of a series on developing a healthy founder's mindset.

Besides the abstraction trap and the security trap, there's a third toxic mindset many consultancy founders fall into. I call it the control trap.

The control trap happens when partners believe they must be actively involved in every task. For those who have a team, this manifests itself through fear of delegating and/or micromanagement. For solo or micro consultancies, it leads founders to oppose outsourcing activities.

But is centralization necessarily bad?

Pragmatically speaking, no. But it will both limit your growth and increase your business risk. If a consultancy is highly dependent on the expertise, decision-making, and relationships of the partners, there is a single point of failure.

If they fail, the entire business crumbles. When you get sick, client work doesn't get done. When you run out of hours to review every marketing presentation or blog post, they don't get published.

Partners with this controlling mindset will always, sooner or later, become the bottleneck of their consultancy's growth:

  • They withhold information and keep their team in the dark.
  • They spend too much time on tasks and decisions that others could handle.
  • They are unclear when they communicate, leaving others wondering if, when, and how they can act autonomously.

The fear of outsourcing or delegation is mostly caused by the lack of leadership skills and trust in your team or contractors. Partners worry about losing control as their consultancy grows. But by withholding responsibilities they end up capping their growth and flexibility as a side-effect.

To avoid the control trap and unlock growth, you need a healthier mindset. I'll suggest one tomorrow.

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