Work ON your business, not in your business was the key message to Bev McMaster’s talk on Wednesday night. And she should know. She grew We Care Health Services from a home-based business to 50 franchises across Canada, but it wasn’t without a price.
She found it hard to let go, and insisted on being involved in every aspect of the business, all this while working to maintain a marriage and raise four children. Something had to give and it did. Her marriage ended and her health suffered. It wasn’t until she was through her depression that she realized she needed to trust the people she’d hired to get on with their job, so she could get on with leading the company.
She called it Founder’s Syndrome and cautioned the audience not to fall into this trap of believing that they were indispensable. Today, while she is still a shareholder in We Care Health Services, she is very much arms length from the business and she likes it that way.
However, once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur and she has gone on to start another venture – Blue Sky Personnel. This time she has taken all the lessons she learned from running We Care, and launched a business where she is very much in the back seat. She’s not even a back seat driver, critically directing traffic from behind the scenes.
No, she’s realized that she has a very competent team working for her, including at one point, her son, and she doesn’t need to be involved in the day-to-day running of the organization. On the personal front, she has moved to Collingwood, and has a new partner. Life is good.
When you read Bev’s bio, you assume that this is someone who has her life together in order to achieve all that she has done, including the awards she has won such as Leading Woman Entrepreneur of the World in 1998. So to hear her presentation on Wednesday was an eye-opener. I always encourage my speakers to be honest… and she sure was. It took courage for her to reveal the darker side of success.
It felt like a cautionary tale of how ambition and the drive to succeed can take you down a dangerous path to self-destruction. And for many of us, as Bev discovered the hard way, that price is too high.