Secondary Leadership

Entrepreneurs love to do everything themselves as they start and grow their companies. As they build staff, they do delegate operational  responsibilities as required.

However, do they delegate decision-making responsibilities and authority? Is there a clear backup person to whom the growing organization looks to make decisions in the absence of the Entrepreneur? Or, does the company postpone decisions awaiting the return of the Entrepreneur?

It is expected that when the company reaches a certain size, it should be in a position to have a secondary leadership team to run the organization. But what about the period until such a stage is reached?

An Entrepreneur needs to groom a backup person to whom the organization can rely upon and who has the authority to make certain decisions. This allows the Entrepreneur to focus on other issues that may require his/her absence from the business (or even take a vacation!).

Ravi Patel

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Published in: on May 21, 2019 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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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

Published in: on May 14, 2019 at 4:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Delegation Requires Follow-Up

Entrepreneurs cannot do everything themselves in their companies so they have to assign projects, goals, and objectives, or collectively tasks to various individuals. Delegation of responsibilities is essential for growth.

Do you have a good system of tracking those tasks? If so, that is a step in the right direction. If not, you need to get a system or process that works for you.

But, more importantly, do you follow-up on the assigned tasks? Do you have a system to track the progress on the various items? Do you have a reminder system?

Assigning tasks is not enough. Monitoring the progress on the completion status of these tasks with regular follow-up is crucial. Otherwise you are sending a message to the employees that you are not going to hold them accountable.

While some employees will take the initiative to report on the progress of the assigned tasks, you need to have a system to hold all people accountable.

Follow up is critical when you delegate tasks to others. Otherwise, don’t always expect results.

Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on May 7, 2019 at 4:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Being Popular Shouldn’t be a Goal

A goal to be popular is not worthy in itself. Entrepreneurs could be effective leaders and be popular, but it is not always possible.

Leadership is about making the optimal decisions for the company even though they might be tough, unfair to some, and even unpopular. In order to do the right thing for the company, a leader might lose in popularity.

Entrepreneurs are often charismatic individuals and have loyal supporters within their companies due to not only their personality, but also for creating employment and opportunities for individuals. This type of following often converts to loyalty and the Entrepreneurs normally use it to motivate employees.

However if tough decisions are required, the Entrepreneur might no longer remain popular. This could happen if the Entrepreneur fails to make critical decisions when necessary, or does make them negatively affecting people.

Leadership is not always about being popular, but being tough and fair to chart the successful course for the company. If being popular comes with it, that’s great. However, do not make your decisions to be popular.

Do the Right Things by being a Leader!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on April 30, 2019 at 4:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Who After You?

Entrepreneurs might not find the phrase “succession planning” in their vocabulary. While Entrepreneurs do not or might not want to think about succession in the sense that they are “retiring” from the business, finding a replacement is something to ponder about.

As an Entrepreneur starts and develops one business, the spirit of innovation does not end. He or she might find new ideas for ventures that might not fit within the mission of the current business. In that case the Entrepreneurs might have to start one or more companies.

In order for the Entrepreneur to focus on his/her entrepreneurial passion, the current business would require a capable leader to run the existing company. This is the type of “succession” planning the Entrepreneur should be thinking about.

If one wants to grow multiple businesses, then “succession” planning is critical for an Entrepreneur.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on April 23, 2019 at 4:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Don’t Create Confusion in Your Business Process

While travelling recently, we stopped at a food establishment in the airport.  This chain had an established process of ordering and delivery of food items. However, this process was neither intuitive nor well-posted for patrons to understand, creating confusion and frustration.

There is a lesson for Entrepreneurs. As you focus on reviewing and improving business processes, do not forget that such processes have to be well understood by the users. There should be a strong emphasis on effective communication of the established processes.

For external users of your business processes, such as clients and vendors, lack of proper communication could negate the effectiveness of your procedures regardless of their excellence. Periodic follow-up with these users as to their understanding and feedback on the process would create an opportunity for refinements.

For internal users, communication combined with training is absolutely necessary. Developing a business process, no matter how good it is, will be effective only if your employees understand it.

Develop, improve, effectively communicate and fully train the users about each business process, otherwise confusion will kill your processes.

Ravi Patel

Apologize with Sincerity

Making mistakes is human.

What separates leaders is that when mistakes are made, genuine leaders offer a sincere apology. What does that mean?

How often have you heard someone say sorry and then add a “but?” In those cases there are all kinds of excuses after the “but.” All these apologies are watered down by offering excuses.

A sincere apology is just that – sincere! When you make a mistake, no matter affecting which stakeholder, just say a sincere sorry without any excuses or reasons. This will be more genuine than trying to explain what happened to cause that mistake.

To be even more effective, you should privately analyze the reasons for the mistake and establish corrective actions to prevent that in the future. This will appear more sincere to the offended party.

Entrepreneurs, Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on April 9, 2019 at 4:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Simplifying Your Business Plan

A “Business Plan” doesn’t have to be a thick document with graphs, projections and glossy visuals. Entrepreneurs need not worry!

A business plan is conceptual. It should be crisp and to the point. Including lots of words (and graphs, spreadsheets, visuals) on paper isn’t necessary.

What should this simple business plan include:

  • What are you doing? Describe your product or service in simple , non-technical terms
  • Why are you doing this? Is there a need in the market place? What is the size of the market or need? What share do you expect to get? Are there competitors? Why are you better? What challenges/barriers are there? Do you have proprietary technology?
  • How and where are you going to do this? Describe your organization to design, manufacture/provide, deliver/distribute your offering. What are your selling channels and how will you reach your potential customers?
  • Whom do you have to support you? Review your management team and key personnel
  • What are the economics? How will you make money and how long will it take? How much do you need and how much will you make? How realistic are your numbers?

This is it – plain and simple. If you have thought through all these questions you are almost there. Practice your pitch and perfect it. Now put it in a nice, readable, short presentation and you are done.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on April 2, 2019 at 4:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Be Decisive

An Entrepreneur needs to be decisive to be a good leader. A decisive person shows the ability to make decisions quickly but effectively.

When an Entrepreneur takes too long to make a decision – either due to lack of knowledge or fear of making the wrong one, it creates a period of anxiety in the employees. Uncertainty in any organization is a killer.

Procrastination is not an admirable virtue for great leaders. It is often better to learn to say “yes” or “no” more often than “maybe.” Your employees will respect you for making quick decisions even though you might be wrong sometimes.

Being decisive does not mean being impulsive or basing decisions on your gut feel. You need to consider all pertinent facts in arriving at the decision, but don’t over-analyze and delay unnecessarily.

Entrepreneurs need to lead by example. Being decisive themselves will instill the same level of rapid response in the rest of the organization.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 26, 2019 at 4:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Validate Your Idea Before Full Development

Soon after Entrepreneurs have ideas, they tend to forge ahead on product or service development at full speed. Is this always a wise course of action? Bias for action is a commendable attitude, but it needs to tempered with reality.

It is essential to obtain validation from potential customers or users before proceeding too far down the path of product or service development.

Regardless of how brilliant the idea, it is ultimately the customer that will decide if it going to be accepted. If the customer does not buy the product or service, there is no long-term value in the idea. Asking potential users about the idea and its potential features is a great way to validate its further development. Customers might even have thoughts and features that the Entrepreneur might not have considered.

There is always the argument that for a revolutionary idea the potential customer might not even be aware of the need, and it is the task of the developer to educate the users. There is merit in this argument; however, it doesn’t hurt to obtain some initial validation of the feasibility of the idea from potential customers.

A solid product or service development process should require some form of meaningful validation from potential users prior to going too far down the path of detailed design. Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel