Learning from Conductors

Entrepreneurs can learn some lessons from great conductors. Leading a successful company is like conducting a symphony.

An enchanting performance by a symphony involves perfect teamwork. A great symphony involves accomplished musicians playing their specialty instruments at a world-class level, while the conductor guides them on a common score with tempo to produce melodious music.

A great company should have experienced and qualified functional leaders guided by a CEO who leads them to the accomplishment of a vision around a well-defined mission. The Entrepreneur/CEO is like a conductor leading the orchestra by gently waving the proverbial baton.

Like a wonderful musical performance, achieving significant milestones towards a vision can be a pleasing melody.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

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Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 4:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Having Too Many Cooks

You might have heard of the common saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Is this always true in an Entrepreneurial company? Not really.

For any major project, such as new product/service development, IT hardware/software selection or implementation, or building expansion, it is critical to have input from multiple sources to come up with the best specification for the new project. This type of diligence up front ensures that most ideas are considered and there is no critical issue of “second-guessing’ later on. The specification should not be a hodgepodge of ideas, but a solid framework that takes into account (though not necessarily includes) different viewpoints.

Once the project specification is defined, there should be minimal changes and the project management should be delegated to responsible staff without micromanaging by “too many cooks.”

Entrepreneurs need to know when to have too many cooks involved in a project, and when not to.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Dealing With Crisis Situations

 

Everyone occasionally faces a crisis situation or perceived irregularities in their business. Entrepreneurs are no exception. How they deal with the crisis and potential negative perceptions separates calm, professional leaders from all others.

Some suggestions for Entrepreneurs:

  • Never overreact to situations where there is employee dissatisfaction, customer, or vendor complaints. Analyze the situation calmly before taking proper corrective action, instead of taking hurried actions due to external pressure.
  • If you do have a serious situation, do not create a smokescreen and divert attention away from it to hide the real problem.
  • Do not focus on the small or minor issues in managing your companies; focus on the larger or macro issues for greater impact. Let your management team manage the details.
  • If you need to make a statement or message regarding any irregularities in your company, do it for significant issues not trivial ones. If you mostly emphasize minor matters, your employees are going to be dismissive of such gestures.
  • Be sensitive to the message that you send with your actions. For example, if you are being austere or are having cost reduction programs, do not have bonuses or spending that is contrary to the current environment in your company. Having incentives is not inappropriate, but make sure that they are related to the right objectives and are perceived positively.
  • When you are borrowing a lot of money, do not spend it on bonuses or management extravagance.

While the above sound obvious, sometimes we tend to lose sight of reality and the negative perceptions that are created.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

 

Strive for Incremental Progress

Saying “I am perfectionist” might sound good, but it is not helpful for Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are generally impatient. They need to see the fruits of their innovation right away. If they wait to perfect it, they might get bored and move on to something else. The market will not wait either – getting it to the market first is the name of the game.

As Entrepreneurs grow their business, they should be striving for measurable, incremental progress on established goals rather than perfection at a point in time. Sustained progress, even in small measures, in the right direction is desirable than perfecting some aspect of the product, process or service without overall forward movement.

An idea that is ninety percent complete and implemented is better than something that is not put into practice as it waits to be perfected.

While perfection might be appropriate for artists and scientists, Entrepreneurs need to be progress driven! Show leadership by demanding progress from your employees instead of perfection.

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

What Drives Your Revenues?

While it is a cliché – in order to help a hungry man for the longer term one teaches him how to fish rather than giving him fish – it is a useful learning idea for Entrepreneurs.

For Entrepreneurs to be successful they should not only focus on increasing revenues, but should more importantly also improve the processes that deliver those revenues.

Entrepreneurs might be able to increase revenues in the short-term by doing it themselves. However, in order for revenues to continue growing for the longer term and through other people, they need to establish and keep on improving the processes that generates such sales.

In order to do so, they first need to understand the processes, improve them as necessary and then ensure they are repeatable with no lapse in quality. Documenting the procedures, training the people and monitoring compliance are necessary to implement robust revenue-generation processes.

Determining the drivers of your revenues is a critical first step in improving and enhancing the revenue stream.

Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Measuring Productivity

Entrepreneurs, do you know if your employees are productive? Or productive enough? Should you? Claiming to have good employees is one thing, but backing it up with data is essential.

Do you establish metrics to measure productivity directly based on your annual company goals?  Are the metrics simple and easily understandable? Do you communicate them effectively to your employees? How often do you post or discuss measured results? Are there periodic meetings to analyze performance and develop methods to improve productivity?

“Doing more with less” is a nice slogan, but proving it with productivity measurement data makes it more meaningful.

If you do measure productivity of your employees and do obtain successful results, have you aligned your reward systems to be in line with productivity improvements?

Improving productivity of your employees is a sure way to deliver more to the bottom line. Are you doing that? If not, why?

Ravi Patel

Setting High Standards

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc

Great leaders set high standards for themselves. The growth of McDonald’s was in large part due to the quality, efficiency and customer service standards established by Ray Kroc.

Entrepreneurs too need to set and live by commendable personal standards or a code of conduct for themselves so that they can demonstrate a high level of leadership to inspire their employees. How often have we seen leaders who ask their followers to do one thing while they do something else? How does that provide leadership by example?

If an Entrepreneur desires to set high standards of ethics and performance for their companies, they first need to set for themselves high-reaching standards. However, that is not enough! Entrepreneurs need to then adhere to their established code of conduct and demonstrate via actions their commitment to such uplifting principles.

Leadership in this area is truly by example. If an Entrepreneur establishes a pattern of behavior that meets his/her lofty standards, then it will be easier to set high standards for the company and employees. It helps to inspire people by actions and then demand high standards of excellence and hold their followers accountable.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on February 13, 2018 at 4:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Playbook for Entrepreneurs

With the Super Bowl  on Sunday, the football season is over. It was impossible to miss the coaches on the sidelines with color-coded sheets of possible plays to be called for that game. The head coach with all the assistant coaches spent hours prior to the game analyzing their competitor’s game, strengths and weaknesses, strategies and so on and blended it with their own team’s core competencies to create a game-plan for winning. Disciplined coaches with a good playbook are generally winners.

Entrepreneurs, do you have similar “playbook” for major strategic actions to be used against, in or with competitors, marketplace, economy, opportunities, employees and so on? Have you worked with your key leadership team to develop such a playbook?

Winning on the field, analogous to the marketplace, requires a lot of planning, analysis, strategizing to come up with the ideal game-plan for success. A playbook for winning a football game is similar to one required for succeeding in business.

Create a playbook for your business and ensure that you call the right play for the situation. Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on February 6, 2018 at 4:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lessons for Entrepreneurs from MLK

Having celebrated his birthday yesterday, it is interesting to review what lessons Entrepreneurs can learn from Martin Luther King (MLK).

Dave Kerpen wrote an article on Inc. on January 19, 2004 listing seven lessons from MLK that are still relevant today. Here is my summary:

  1. Dream big – if you don’t dream big, you can’t achieve significant things
  2. Persuade without power – don’t be a “boss.” but be a leader through the power of persuasion
  3. Give people something to believe in – have passion in your Vision so people are compelled to adopt it
  4. Embrace fear and be courageous anyway– be honest with people about the challenges but have the courage to face them anyway
  5. Get everyone involved – Entrepreneurs can’t do everything themselves. They need to have other people involved to build their company.
  6. Create a sense of urgency – have a bias for action to get ahead of competition
  7. Inspire people – without inspiring leadership it merely becomes a job for your people. Have them motivated to fulfill your Vision.

These are lessons that Entrepreneurs can definitely learn from and adopt.

 Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on January 16, 2018 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Working Hand in Hand

Leaders lead from being in front of their people – not only in their thinking but also sometimes physically.

However, if Entrepreneurs are always ahead of their people, they might not follow. This could be for many reasons. Entrepreneurs might not have fully convinced employees of the reason for the task at hand; they might have previously seen you in action and are hesitant; or they don’t fully know you yet as they have not seen how you work.

Entrepreneurs might want to lead their people by being and  working side by side with their employees to mitigate these reasons..

Leadership by example can only happen if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work with your employees in doing tasks that are necessary. That means physically working besides your people rather than isolating yourself.

Leadership does not always mean that you decide and your people follow. Work with your people to tackle issues and develop with them solutions that need to be implemented. Think with them by involving employees in the process.

Situational leadership demands different styles – leading from beside your people is one of them.

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com