Trusting People

Entrepreneurs like to be in “total” control. It is difficult for them to acknowledge that other people can do as good, if not a better, job than they can.  A few also believe that if they share their ideas with people, someone may steal them and take advantage.

It is all about trust. However, it is less about trusting other people, but more about not trusting themselves enough.

Entrepreneurs do take significant risks in the business sense – that is embark on new ideas, in an uncertain environment, with a not fully developed product or service, no ready customers, lack of adequate funding and so on. They are good at that.

When it comes to relying on other people, their risk-taking is limited. While they may trust family members, it is difficult for beginning Entrepreneurs to trust outsiders. So what is the issue?

In my opinion, the issue is that Entrepreneurs do not have sufficient trust in themselves to identify, train, and coach the right people to delegate key responsibilities. Sometimes loners, people management skills are the least ones they have developed. This often creates a situation where Entrepreneurs end up performing all key tasks and stretching themselves too thin.

Entrepreneurs need to train and then trust themselves to make appropriate people decisions so they can then trust those people to do the things right. The sooner they learn to do that the faster their growth and success.

Ravi Patel

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Published in: on May 14, 2019 at 4:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Do You Know Your Weaknesses?

Knowing your weaknesses and doing something about eliminating or mitigating them is actually a strength.

As a part of the strategic planning process, it is essential for Entrepreneurs  to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on their business and develop strategies for each area.

How do you find out your weaknesses?

Entrepreneurs can do an honest assessment and perform an in-depth, critical review. They could involve the management team in this process and have them openly, without fear of recrimination, list each area of weakness in the business. Have each manager of a functional area review not only his/her own area, but also other functions in the company.

Entrepreneurs could also solicit frank feedback from the Board of Directors and mentors regarding the areas that need improvement. Such feedback is more likely to be objective depending upon the relationship with the Entrepreneur.

The truest assessment of your weaknesses will come from competitors if you can obtain such information. Competitors analyze the business of their rivals very carefully to develop strategies to compete not only against their strengths but also to exploit their weaknesses. If you can find a way to gain analysis of your weaknesses performed by your competitors, it would be very useful in your strategic planning process.

Something to ponder ….

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 12, 2019 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thinking at a Higher Level to Solve Problems

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them. – Albert Einstein.

What a brilliant statement!

Problems occur in every business and for every Entrepreneur. Inexperience, limited skills and not fully developed thinking contribute to the situation . This is not unique and is to be expected from new Entrepreneurs.

However, learning from your mistakes starts the process of elevating your thinking. If you keep on making the same mistakes in  similar situations, you are not thinking at the next level.

More importantly, the level of thinking to solve the problem has to be at a higher level than what got you there in the first place. If you approach the issue from the same viewpoint as the one that created the problem, it would be difficult to have a new solution. Thinking from different perspectives helps solve problems.

How do you get there? Constant learning from mentors and advisers and acquiring knowledge through self-education elevates your thinking to solve problems. Asking for advice from professionals also contributes to elevating your thinking level.

Think at the Right Level to Solve Problems!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on February 26, 2019 at 4:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Deal with Performance Issues

Do you delay in dealing with performance issues?

Entrepreneurs, like many other managers, do not like to confront employees regarding poor performance. Entrepreneurs, especially, take a softer view with certain employees that started when the company was established. How can they after all be tough on people who supported them when the times were bad?

Not dealing with performance issues in a timely manner not only hurts the company, but is a disservice to the employee. If the employee is a potential long-term player, it is better to get them on track sooner by making him/her aware of the deficiencies and help the employee develop and work on a plan to correct the shortfalls.

If performance issues are not addressed promptly, it creates in the entrepreneurial company a sense that the Entrepreneur is partial towards certain non-performers. Obviously, a poor performer is readily visible in a small company and not dealing with such issues creates a situation with poor team morale.

Entrepreneurs need to create a culture where performance issues are dealt with promptly, either by implementing a corrective plan to improve performance or managing the consistently poor performer out of the company.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on February 19, 2019 at 4:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Firing People

Is firing people wrong? Depending on the circumstances firing a person or a group of employees might be necessary for an Entrepreneur.

A continually poor performer in any enterprise becomes a liability to the other team members and the organization. If there is no change in the employee’s performance after repeated attempts to improve it, it would be wise to part company. Similarly if a third-party service provider does not consistently provide excellent service there is cause for firing that provider.

In a broader sense, for the survival of a company and a majority of its employees if a few employees have to be let go (after all other options have been exhausted), it is most often the right thing to do. As Spock used to say in Star Trek, .. for the survival of the many, a few have to suffer.”

Firing people for spite, revenge, uneconomic, or irrational reasons is never appropriate, but letting go of people for the right rationale is not necessarily wrong.

Ravi Patel

Being an Effective Manager

Various books and articles about management focus on each aspect of management and discuss skills to master these areas.

Here is my take – Effective management is all about making it easier for employees to perform their jobs to achieve the established goals.

It is the manager’s job to make his/her employees successful. An effective manager works on eliminating obstacles that impede their employees from reaching their goals, and providing the required resources and tools.

Poor managers bent on too much control, in fact, create obstacles for their employees. They create processes that make the jobs of their employees more complicated and difficult.

Entrepreneurs, which manager should you be?

Ravi Patel

Improve from Status Quo

The normal convention is that if things are not broken, do not fix them. Well, challenge the norm! Entrepreneurs are good at doing that for new ideas.

If things are not broken, they are also status quo. Things that are stagnant are not necessarily desirable. Seek ways to improve the status quo. Find different ways of doing things to make them better.

In an environment when things are slow, review things that are not broken with an eye to make them better. It may serve you well when the economy picks up and you might not have time to review your operations.

Ravi Patel

Use Technology to Improve Productivity

When faced with a tight financial situation, many Entrepreneurs focus on cutting costs. While this is an essential strategy for survival, you might also want to include productivity improvement as a tactic. Doing more with less people also helps your overall goal to increase profitability.

Technology plays a useful role in providing tools to increase productivity. If you have a strong manual process to accomplish tasks, it may be a candidate for using technology to increase productivity.

In last week’s post I had discussed business process reviews for continuous improvement. Technology can not only improve the quality of your process, but also the efficiency and thereby the productivity of the business process.

Incorporating technology wisely and economically can increase productivity and quality of your operations.

Ravi Patel

Enhancing Key Business Processes

Do you know the key business processes in your company? What are you doing to monitor the performance in these processes? Do you have systems to review these key business processes periodically and improve them?

As Entrepreneurs grow their companies, the emphasis should not only be on generating revenues, but it should also include improving the processes that deliver those revenues.

Total Quality Management emphasizes documenting your critical business processes; developing key metrics; measuring and posting these metrics; and continually improving the processes.

Entrepreneurs will then benefit from the enhanced quality and efficiency of their business processes.

Ravi Patel

Pay Attention to Fundamentals

What if your business shows good trends, but the fundamentals are poor? You  feel great in the short term, but the future might be bleak.

As an example, your sales may be on the upward trend, but if the fundamentals for your business – quality of product/service, delivery times, customer service, and so on are weak, how long will your sales continue to grow? What if your sales are growing, but your margins are rapidly declining? Is that really a good trend?

Entrepreneurs should not be fooled by short-term trends in their businesses, but focus on ensuring that the fundamentals are sound and going in the right direction. Determine the key drivers of your business and concentrate on fixing and enhancing these fundamentals to grow your company for the long term.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on November 27, 2018 at 4:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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