See the big picture.
Businesses are always going to have challenges and are always going to have problems. If you allow yourself to spend all your time just solving whatever problem is in front of you, you’re going to miss the opportunity to pursue a bigger opportunity that could eliminate all your problems.
There is a risk in a fast-paced business that your operations become disjointed. You have teams making decisions on the fly. You’re moving quickly to keep up with the pace of the business and the pace of the market.
That’s a good thing in the sense that you want your people to be empowered and you want to keep that entrepreneurial culture that was key to your success in the early years going as you continue to grow as a business. At the same time, successful companies need to remain focused on what their core value proposition is and what their mission is and keep priorities in sync. That’s the balancing act.
Remain focused on your core.
It comes back to metrics. I got some really good advice early on that you get what you measure. It took a while for that to hit home for me. What that means in terms of what you do as a leader is rhetoric doesn’t have the power of measurements.
You can give speeches. You can write e-mails and memos and presentations. You can have counseling sessions. But in the end, that’s all rhetoric. It’s words intended to inspire people.
If you really want to influence behavior, the best way to do that is through metrics specific goals that are measurable that you can assign to people. That’s part of empowerment.
People are not truly empowered unless they have the resources they need to get the job done, but also they’re told what success means. The best way to define success is by measurable, actionable, results-oriented targets that allow you to give people feedback and for people to measure themselves and how well they’re doing in hitting the goals you set for them.
If you stay disciplined about measuring how people are doing, that’s going to have a bigger impact on getting the results that you may want to achieve in your business than anything else you can do.
You can’t do everything yourself. That seems to be a challenge for a lot of entrepreneurs.
A lot of entrepreneurs are strong, independent performers that are very good at delivering results on your own, but as your business scales, one person doesn’t scale. If you are on the critical path to results within your business, then ultimately you’re going to hit a ceiling in terms of how large your business can become.
The only way to break through that ceiling is to empower people to do the kinds of things you may have done yourself during the early days of the business.
Communicate your vision and goals.
It’s time-consuming to sit down and write an e-mail or craft a speech or put together a presentation. Mark Twain [is often credited with] having said, ‘I would have wrote you a shorter letter, but I didn’t have enough time.’
It takes time to boil down a message to the point that it’s digestible by the people that you’re trying to reach. As your company gets bigger, that gets more challenging because when you’re growing, everybody is busy.
In this interview right now, what you’re getting is a stream of consciousness response to your questions, but that’s not the most effective way to communicate to a company. I try to take the time to think about, what’s my message, who do I need to reach, what’s the most concise, impactful way to communicate it.
The actual communicating of the message is the easy part. It’s the preparation and the time that goes in to that that really makes it effective. Take the time to communicate.
Get buy-in when pioneering.
The biggest challenge that a pioneer has in a new industry segment is figuring out the recipe for success. If you’re starting a business in a sector that has a long history and has been around for decades, you can typically emulate other businesses that have been successful in that sector.
You can adopt the metrics that they’ve used. You can adopt their business processes. You can hire people who have worked in that sector.
But if you’re in a new sector that’s never been done before, you have to figure all that out yourself. It can be challenging. It can be frustrating for your employees. Employees often want to step in to a job where the goals are clear, the purpose is clear, what it means to be successful is clear from the outset.
We often ask our employees, ‘Help us figure out what the right set of metrics are for this particular situation.’ That’s part of being in an entrepreneurial situation. That’s not for everybody.
If you’re in a situation like that, it’s key when you interview employees to make the determination if that employee has the resolve to be passionate about the cause. If you can communicate to your employees what the mission of the business is, and that employee can get fired up about it that mission and say, ‘I get it. I understand what we’re trying to do, now I want to be a part of helping you figure out how to get there,’ then that employee is probably going to be successful in your business if they have the basic skills that are needed to perform the job.
How to reach: VeriCenter Inc., www.vericenter.com