I’ve been gone a while. Not gone but in a different direction. As entrepreneurs it’s really easy to go in too many directions. Let me restate that. It’s easy to go in a wrong direction. That’s ok. That’s who we are. Sometimes it’s a big sign, sometimes it’s a subtle sign but we always get to the right answer of the right vs wrong direction. So what did I learn when I was going in that different direction?
- I saw first hand why many smart, product focused entrepreneurs with great industry insight don’t become successful. As Bill Gates said, “I built Windows but I could have never built Microsoft”. Paul Allen built a company of people, processes and product management. Most entrepreneur’s don’t have the skillset to build an effective organization. That’s ok. Everybody brings a certain value. However, it’s important to understand what you do well and find partnerships to fill in what you don’t.
- Similarly, as Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Just because you may be the smartest guy in the room doesn’t mean you’re the most effective at getting the job done. Embrace & encourage other opinions… trust me you’ll learn something that will help you. It’s your company & your vision. Excecution is a cross functional team sport though.
- Don’t swim upstream. Whether it’s in a Fortune 500 or a 100 employee company you have office politics. It’s actually productive if leadership understands how to harness the positive energy in it. However, if you allow a few to hijack the company for personal gains… well, you’ll realize sooner or later their priority was never the company anyway.
- Respect your team. It’s so simple but your organization is as good as what your team thinks of you. It really comes down to that. Don’t believe me? Ask Travis Kalanick. Leadership starts with you.
So keep going in the direction your heart takes you. Your heart will also let you know where not to go
I think this is a great post by Jack Welch. By the way if you haven’t read his book Winning stop reading this and go get it. It’s that good.
Ok, back to micromanaging. It’s tough. As probably a former employee from another company you don’t want to be micromanaged so you don’t want to micromanage. Remember though… everything and anything that happens in your business is your responsibility. When you run a small business that is critical. You may not want to micromanage but remember as Welch advises, “Your help matters when you bring unique expertise to a situation”. Most likely you will bring that more than not.
Why I Love Micromanaging and You Should Too
When you own your own business you understand where the saying “chief cook & bottle washer” comes from. You are responsible for everything. Whether it’s replacing the AC or heading to your office on a Saturday morning because somebody forgot their key. Those roles can take away from the things that provide an ROI or simply stuff you enjoy. It’s important to keep in mind everything you do… big or small… is the glue that keeps your customers happy, provides a great place to work to retain quality employees as well as provide a return on your investment. Everything you do is critical to many people so don’t think something is too little. Your efforts touch the happiness (or not) and the success (or not) of people not just processes.
I attended a seminar hosted by Disney. It was very insightful and demonstrated how Disney focuses on the “Guest” experience as well as employee workplace in everything they do. One session spoke about how every job is important. An example was given that one day a Cast Member was walking around Disney World picking up litter. A guest asked for him to take a picture of their family. He gladly did and went on doing his job. Soon after, Disney received a heartfelt note from the family. It seems a member of the family had passed away shortly after their trip to Disney World. They realized the picture taken by the Cast Member was actually the last picture they have of their family together.
As an employee of your company don’t forget you touch so many people’s lives. I can assure that you don’t know many of the times you said or did something that touched somebody in a positive way. People just don’t always drop a note saying so.
So I started my small business of course as an investment. I was looking for a return from years of hard work and the financial management to save some money. I was concerned of course but I made the best calculated risk I could at the time. When I opened my first location I was so proud. I was so excited for our family because I had the confidence (ok… mixed in with a lot hopes) that we would build something even bigger.
Things went pretty good for our first couple months. We were hitting projections and yes we seemed to be building something.
One day a team member came to me excited that she was pregnant. Her & her husband were going to start a family. I was excited too of course. We spoke about our polices, scheduling plans and what we needed to take care of for the business.
She also spoke about their plans. That’s when it hit me. I stepped back and realized what I had really built. My years of hard work. My perseverance to save. Risking my savings in an investment. That investment was now helping others raise families, pay for an education or simply have a place to live. Suddenly I realized I had more responsibility than I had planned for. It was now even more rewarding.
So it’s critical to remember our businesses need policies, structure and accountability. We also need people. We need to remember we have people who are working for us to build something bigger in their lives. Just like I did.