The pros and cons of being a lone-wolf in business

Mike McGrail
Apr 28, 2014 · 3 min read

I cut the cord of employment in 2012 and started my first business. It was August, and I’d turned 30 in the March and my first child had arrived in the May. A big year. But big things comes in threes.

I’m the sole director of Velocity Digital which also means I’m the accountant, office manager, HR manager and a multitude of other titles all wrapped into one organic being. I love running the business, watching it grow and delivering great work for our lovely clients. One thing I do struggle with is making big decisions about the business — should we increase the team? Do we need a new office? Should we offer new services So on and so forth.

Sorry if I’m boring you…

I’m a lone-wolf

At this point I think it’s important that I give a shout-out to my Dad and my Wife (two separate entities), who both act as great sounding-boards and providers of advice, something I’m very thankful for. I also have a number of pals that offer support when required (merci). Then there’s my team -members, who are clever people, but they shouldn’t be burdened with many of the decisions I have to make.

The ultimate decision is ultimately mine (RIP Ultimate Warrior) and that can be a scary thing.

Would decisions be easier if I had a business partner? What about multiple co-directors? We could vote on things then! Or would things just be more complicated?

I didn’t have a choice

When I started up, there was no-one I knew who was willing to take the leap with me, which made my initial decision very easy. Solo it was. It must be a difficult decision if you have the option of teaming up with people, or going it truly alone. A brave decision either way.

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Bill Cosby

What are the pros of being solo?

  • I don’t have to please everybody, at all times
  • I live and die (so to speak!) by my decisions, if I make the wrong one, I don’t have anywhere to point my finger of blame other than in the mirror.
  • I don’t have to make decisions by committee, which speeds things up and helps with clarity.
  • My opinion on the best decision to make isn’t tainted by the emotions of others. Some people struggle to make decisions and it can make them anxious, flippant and erratic, which can easily spread.

What are the cons of being solo?

  • I don’t have anyone to share the decision making process with that is an actual part of the business
  • I can’t tap into co-directors experience and opposing views in order to influence a decision
  • If the wrong decision is made, I don’t have people around me to help fix it

I’ve kept those pros and cons tightly related to decision making, of course there are number of P&Cs outside of this area, such as financial gain, spreading the work-load and having back-up when you’re sick or on holiday (remember those?).

So what is best?

Looking at the P&Cs above, it’s hard to make a decision what’s best, and a whole lot more studying of each situation would have to be carried out before any conclusion could be made.

When I look back over the short life-span of my business, I’m glad I’m going it alone. The key reason for this is that aside from business decisions, I have a very particular way I like to deliver our services (digital marketing) and the biggest issue could well be if a co-founder etc wasn’t ‘bought into’ that. I could see that as being a potentially disastrous clash.

Whatever your set-up is, power to you for being there in the first place.

    Mike McGrail

    Written by

    Marketing consultant with 10 years in the game. Event speaker. Inventor of trees and milk. Writing about business, marketing and life.

    Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
    Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
    Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade