People or Process Dependency

When Entrepreneurs start their business and during the initial growth stage, they rely upon a few people to know most aspects of their operations. Entrepreneurs depend upon these key people for everything and if someone is absent, it disrupts the operation as no one else is aware of the required details.

For companies to grow, it is critical to develop efficient, solid business processes. Reliance on an individual for knowledge of  the procedures to conduct business is risky.

A solid process provides the foundation for imparting knowledge to multiple people for understanding the procedures and if properly cross-trained, any one should be able to fill in or step up to perform the necessary tasks as required.

Information on business tasks residing with individuals not only poses a risk, but also eliminates improvements since the individuals have always been doing it the same way and see no need to change. A well-defined process on the other hand allows measurement and continuous improvement from many people to make it even better.

Entrepreneurs should have more dependency on processes than individuals.

Ravi Patel

 

Advertisements

Survival of the Fittest

The law of the jungle is “survival of the fittest.” This law applies to Entrepreneurs also.

Entrepreneurs need to find ways to survive in this economy and business climate. Having the best product or service, superior management, strong processes and so on are not the only things necessary for survival.

Imagine the cheetah – the fastest animal on earth. However if not alert, a lion or other predator will devour the cheetah. Being fast would not help then.

Similar having the best of everything is not enough for Entrepreneurs. Survival requires being alert, adaptive and quick to react to the changing circumstances. Relying on one’s past successes is not adequate for survival in the future.

Being fittest in this environment does not mean being the best. It requires having “street-smarts” to navigate these troubling times.

Are you fit enough to survive?

Ravi Patel

 

Letting Go

Parents have a difficult time letting their children venture out on their own – from the first play date to leaving home for college.

Entrepreneurs are not so different. When their businesses grow and new management is required or when Entrepreneurs need to move on to other things in life, they have a traumatic time letting go.

The successful Entrepreneurs are the ones who foresee such separations and prepare for such. Hiring the right management team, a capable Board of Directors or Advisors, and trust in their people and processes to continue the Mission of the company allows Entrepreneurs to easily transition away from day-to-day operations of the business.

Have you prepared your company and yourself to let go gracefully?

Ravi Patel

 

Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 5:01 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Importance of Following Up

Entrepreneurs cannot do everything themselves in their companies so they have to assign projects, goals, and objectives, or collectively tasks to various individuals.

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

 

Yet Another Golfing Analogy for Entrepreneurs

Having previously posted some golf analogies applicable to business, another one comes to mind. Learning how to build a smooth golf swing is similar to growing a business.

Before you start the golf swing, you need to have a proper setup that includes the stance, grip, posture, balance and so on. It is no different for a business. One needs to make sure that you are established properly – the relevant name, legal and tax structure, banking relationships, basic facilities, web presence, initial IT infrastructure are present.

The backswing is critical to the full swing. If the fundamentals of your backswing are not correct, it will be difficult to swing your club on the proper plane for a straight, long shot. Similarly, businesses need to make sure that when they start, the basic fundamentals are in place – a quality product or service with sufficient testing, core group of employees, proven customers and vendors, an organization to support growth, etc. If the backswing is rushed, the total swing is destroyed. When the business starts to run before it can walk, growth will be very difficult to manage.

The downswing starts slowly and accelerates just close to the point of impact to generate maximum power. If acceleration is sooner or later in the swing, optimum power is lost. In business, if one grows too fast without controlling the timing it can be problematic. Business growth has to be synchronized with the capability of the organization. If the orders come in but the organization cannot deliver, it leads to challenges. Timing is critical for the proper growth of a business, as it is for acceleration in a golf swing.

A nice, smooth, balanced finish completes the ideal golf swing. However, if the business is successful a finish is not what we need. Let us end the analogy before that.

Golf has many lessons for an Entrepreneur!

Ravi Patel

 

Risk Mitigation

When an Entrepreneur hears the word risk it does not concern him or her, since the very definition of an entrepreneur is one who takes considerable risk and initiative in starting and managing a business.

Some people perceive risk mitigation as something you obtain insurance for. That is partly true, but risk mitigation is more than that.

An astute Entrepreneur needs to assess and mitigate risks in numerous areas as many of these risks might not be covered by insurance. Such risks could be economic, governmental, client-related, competitive, employee-based, management turnover, process failures, unmanaged growth, and so on.

Entrepreneurs should take time to evaluate non-insurable risks facing their business and develop contingency plans to mitigate such risks.

Ravi Patel

 

Published in: on May 2, 2011 at 5:53 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Succession Planning

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 25, 2011 at 5:33 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Are your Employees Productive?

Entrepreneurs, how 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 not?

Ravi Patel

 

Looking at the Glass Half-Full

Entrepreneurs have a very positive outlook regarding new opportunities and ideas. They tend to look at things as a glass half-full as opposed to half-empty. This type of optimistic thinking leads to innovative businesses.

Is this always a good thing? It depends.

If the Entrepreneur has some basis in reality and/or surrounds him or her self with good advisors, there is a good probability that he or she will not venture deep into seeming opportunities that do not make sense or are far-fetched.

On the other hand, if the Entrepreneur is stubborn and relentless in the pursuit of an idea, despite repeated contrary advice, then chances of failure increase.

It is a wonderful quality for Entrepreneurs to have optimism, curiosity and a positive view of new ideas and opportunities, but a reality check is necessary for long-term success.

Ravi Patel

 

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 5:06 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Mentoring

Early in their careers, Entrepreneurs often have role models that they look up to. If lucky, the role models or other influential people could become mentors to the Entrepreneur and provide guidance and counseling, as needed

As Entrepreneurs themselves become successful and mature, do they provide mentorship to others?

Besides developing their senior management team, Entrepreneurs should identify and mentor high potential individuals. This would not only give back in kind what the Entrepreneur benefited from his or her mentors, but also develop future leaders for society as a whole.

Providing mentorship is a part of “Doing the Right Things” for Entrepreneurs.

Ravi Patel

 

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 4:59 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,