Let’s say you are quite happy and content with the state of your business. Sorry, but I’m disappointed to hear that. Not because I don’t like good news but because I know an insipient problem when I see one.
The hard truth is you should never be ‘happy and content’ with the state of your business simply because every successful enterprise must be a perpetual work in progress. You — the entrepreneur, the owner and manager in chief — must be restless in pursuit of ever-higher levels of performance.
I used to visit a client, a chief executive of a major enterprise who started out as a man with a dream and a home-equity loan and built his company into a juggernaut. On his desk was a sign that read for all to see: The Boss Is Not Happy!
This was his way of declaring war first on himself and second on everyone who worked on his team. It was not destructive, mean spirited or evil. It was instead a perpetual battle against the cancer of complacency that can and will inevitably set in when the leader gets ‘happy and content’ with the state of her business.
To build profitable, proud, innovative and truly productive businesses that meet the ultimate test of being scalable and sustainable, we must all declare war on ourselves now. And not let our guard down.
What to do?
I suggest the following actions:
1. Stop asking if your customers/clients are satisfied
Satisfied customers are easy prey for aggressive competitors. We have to raise the bar, shooting for a new standard: Thrilling the people we serve. When you are thrilled you are a customer for life.
2.Get out of the office and into the field
Do the ‘dirty work’ now and then because it’s not really ‘dirty’ to get behind the grill and cook a burger, show a guest to a room, answer the phones when the public calls. When Charles Revson was building Revlon into a powerhouse, he would allocate part of his time manning the customer complaint line.
He wanted a clear, undiluted sense of how the company was pleasing, or failing, the women who spent money on his products.
Of course you have to spend most of your time making leadership decisions, but if you watch Undercover Boss, (screens on BBC Knowledge on DTSV) you will see that every time the boss goes out and does what they used to think was below them, they come away with a powerful epiphany.
3. Become stricter
Terminate anyone on your payroll who you have warned about their subpar performance, but have failed to get rid of because you don’t want to be disliked or you feel sorry for them. You’re not engaged in a popularity contest and furthermore making an exception for one slacker is a slippery slope that almost always leads to a systemic problem: a ’can’t do’ culture. Try taking that to the bank.
4. Give yourself a pay cut any year the company underperforms
You need to feel the pain too. Sitting alone in an isolated bubble of generous compensation removes the hunger, the drive, the rubber hits the road mindset that keeps companies alive, agile and vital in spite of the inevitable challenges they will face.
5. Try something you always thought was wrong for your business
As entrepreneurs, we can sell ourselves a bill of goods that is pure nonsense. For the first 14 years of my company’s evolution, I refused to advertise, thinking that PR, social media and referrals were the only way to go.
But after a TV appearance where I suggested to the viewers that they try something new, I took a shot at radio advertising. I declared war on my own closemindedness. Today advertising is a mainstay of our marketing and I have tripled down, investing a large percentage of my budget each month.
Hone your leadership skills
Experts on leadership and organisational culture, Rob Goffee and Gareth Jone’s best-selling book, Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?, began as one of the Harvard Business Review’s most popular articles.
The book asks one core question: what does it take to be a real leader – one who is confident in who they are and what they stand for, and who can inspire people to achieve extraordinary results.
Available on Kalahari.net
4 Tips To Become A Team Whisperer (And Improve Your Employee Engagement)
Engaged employees are motivated, innovative and willing to take on more responsibility.
Your team needs to be nurtured on an ongoing basis if you want to attract and retain the best employees. You can hire people, you can fire people, and you can tell them what to do. But you can’t make them like what they do. Some business leaders are content with having an unhappy team; as long as they do what they are paid to do then the state of their mental health is seen as superfluous.
This line of thinking is not only wrong, but it is entirely counterproductive to the continued survival of a business. Gallup has run some excellent pieces that demonstrate the difference between engaged and disengaged employees. In particular, they list several additional things that engaged employees bring to the table: Motivation, innovation, and a willingness to take on more responsibility within the company. So how can you keep your team engaged?
That level of motivation contrasts greatly with employees who don’t even want to be there. They do their jobs, but they never put in more than the bare minimum of effort. Don’t expect them to ever go beyond what their job description requires, and if there is a chance for them to duck out of work without getting fired, they’ll take it. Obviously, you don’t want to have a team that consists of these people. But without the right knowledge of how to motivate a team, you’ll find yourself unable to inspire your employees to go above and beyond what is required of them.
A great company cannot exist without great employees, and there are steps you can take to mould them into the people you want to have working for you. These tips are proven methods of getting your employees to be engaged in what they do, and anybody can learn to apply them.
1. Be a team, not a dictatorship
Every ship needs a strong captain, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend every second reminding your employees who’s the boss. Your employees look to you for guidance, but they also want to feel as though you are in tune with everything that is going on. Some managers come off as though they are giving mandates from heaven, or worse, they rattle off long lists of orders because they don’t want to do the work themselves.
If you give the directive and then pitch in to reach the goal, you’ll show your employees that they are all part of a team, and they sink or swim together.
2. Give them a chance to shine
It’s true that some people are placidly content with being a cog in the wheel. I’m sure you know of at least one person who is sitting in a job they are relatively indifferent to just so they can collect a pension in twenty years. Those that fit that mould will gravitate towards jobs that give few chances to stand out and plenty of job security. For those who want to achieve more, they will never settle for a job pushing pencils all day.
These restless employees are always looking for a way to prove to you that they are capable of so much more than low-level work. Denying them this opportunity will either push them to greener pastures, or if they can’t/won’t quit, cause them to become disillusioned with what they do.
If you find somebody who wants to prove themselves, let them. An employee who shows the initiative and drive to better themselves is a person who will bring your business an incredible amount of value. Don’t waste this potential.
3. Don’t take them for granted — show your gratitude
This goes beyond a simple “thank you,” although those two words can have quite a bit of power in themselves. If your employees feel like their contributions are not recognised or rewarded, they will feel little incentive to go above and beyond in what they do. How you show this gratitude is as important as the action itself, because a perceived token gesture is even more insulting than a lack of a reward. Put another way, if somebody comes up with a million-dollar idea and you give them a monogrammed lanyard as a gift, don’t expect that person to stick around. Rewarding achievement is the flip side to punishing failure, and a balance between both is necessary to craft the ideal team.
As intuitive as these three traits seem, you probably know from personal experience that a lot of managers don’t quite know how to implement these strategies effectively.
4. Share the bigger picture with them
A really important element of keeping your team engaged is to share the bigger picture with them. This involves amongst others:
- Constantly communicate the Vision and Mission of your business to your team. If your team can buy into why the business was started, where it is headed and why you exist as a business, they will be able to be as passionate as you are.
- Provide a monthly update on how the business is tracking against its plan and this will empower them to focus on the areas that matter most to the business at that time. This includes sharing financials with the team — here one needs to take into account any legislation that might be applicable — but the more you share, the more you show your team that they are trusted with the information as well as being able to make better decisions that affect the business.
- Keeping your team engaged, excited and energised is a pre-requisite to developing a high performing team that is able to take the business to the next level. It takes a team of dedicated people to build a successful business. Without this team, your ability to expand at the rate you had planned to will be severely hampered.
IN YOUR TOOLKIT
Become a leader that inspires greatness
“Multipliers is profound. It’s been lifechanging for me and everyone that works with me. Leadership is not about having the best answers. You need to ask the best questions, and what happens is that you are turning people into productive engines. Micro-managing stops people from thinking for themselves as they wait for answers from you. The principle is that micro-management on that level means you are paying people 100% salary for 50% productivity. The multipliers effect allows you to pay 100% salary for 200% productivity.” — Robin Olivier, co-founder and MD of Digicape, a R240-million business based in Cape Town. Go to multipliersbooks.com for additional tips, tricks and surveys.
Radical Candor means challenging employees directly and showing you care personally at the same time. It will help you and your team do the best work of your lives.
Developed by Kim Scott — who led AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick Online Sales and Operations at Google and then joined Apple to develop and teach a leadership seminar — Radical Candor is all about becoming a leader who is both respected and followed, without being falsely ‘nice’.
There are two great YouTube videos that will give you her tips and lessons in under 20 minutes:
- Radical Candor — The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss | First Round Review
- INBOUND Bold Talks: Kim Scott “Radical Candor”
And if you’re interested in really unpacking the lessons behind radical candor, read the book: Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.
5 Signs A Business Is Being Poorly Managed
Are you considering investing in a new company? Evaluate its leadership with these five factors first.
Ideally, every business’s success would be so simple that anyone could run it – even an untalented person. Unfortunately, though, many businesses cannot withstand the leadership of an unqualified or untalented person, and, if a business is lucky enough to achieve longevity, odds are that someone unqualified or untalented will run it eventually.
But, how can you, as an investor, identify when a business is being run by one of those untalented people? More importantly, how can you spot when a business is being run by an untrustworthy person?
In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Phil Town breaks down five signs of bad leadership you need to consider before investing in a new company.
Click play to learn more.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
4 Essential Steps To Take To Successfully Sell Your Business
Here are 4 essential steps that will help you avoid potential setbacks and increase the chances of a fair and satisfying transaction while you are selling your business.
Many startup founders and small businesses dream of receiving an offer to becoming the next billion dollar business. Whether its because they are ready to move onto another project, or they are ready to expand and are looking to leverage the financial power of a bigger partner, selling a business is a big move for any business. For many business owners, getting an offer from a buyer is certainly exciting, but before you jump into anything, remember that are important steps to take before you sign the paperwork that will move a successful transaction forward.
From making sure you have a functioning and potentially lucrative business model, to working with an expert to establish goals and expectations on both ends to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Here are 4 essential steps that will help you avoid potential setbacks and increase the chances of a fair and satisfying transaction while you are selling your business.
1. Preparation is everything
Since you’re already a business owner, you most likely already know the importance of preparation. When it comes to selling your business it’s always wise to conjure up all that you have learned along the way and apply that to the process of making a sale.
Some of the key documents that buyers expect to see are:
- Corporate records
- Records of any important contracts
- Information concerning stocks and investments that would affect the relationship with the buyer.
Preparation also entails that you are forward about any setbacks or issues you had in the past that currently affect company operations. Being open about what failed in your business model will help buyers feel confident in their decision working with you, in addition to understanding what to potentially avoid in the future.
2. Setting up the right environment for buyers
Your business may have received endless praise from the press and has made the “most up and coming list” time and time again that doesn’t mean you are ready to sell. Good press will very likely attract buyers, but if you haven’t created the right environment to continue along with a merger and acquisition, those investors and businesses that were one so eager to scoop you up may not stick around that long. To ensure a productive environment for selling your business it pays to be open to new ideas, while also maintaining a professional setting from which trust can build.
3. Make sure your finances are in order
Financial records are vital when making a sale. Not only to they provide a clear outline of your businesses progress in numbers, they are also key to making sure you get what you want out of the final sale in the end; investments and any and all financial commitments. Ensuring that both parties are satisfied.
4. Hire a merger and acquisitions advisor
Even the most experienced business owners can benefit from the expertise of a mergers and acquisitions advisor. Trained specifically to help owners assess their the value of the business by reviewing it’s strengths and weaknesses on both a macro and micro economic level.
Some of the key ways that an M&A consultant can help you streamline the selling process are as follows:
- Professional who specialise in mergers and acquisitions are highly skilled at preparing for due diligence, helping you to navigate and organise the necessary documents and information that is needed by all prospective buyers
- If you are in the unique situation that you have more than one buyer interested in acquiring your business, an M&A consultant can help you assess which one will be the right relationship for you, especially if you will still be activity participating in daily business operations.
Again, experienced business owners may know everything there is to know about running a company, but that doesn’t mean they know how to appeal to buyers. Not only do you have to be in tune with your own company’s needs, but it’s essential that you understand what buyers and investors expect from a sale.
At the end of the day, even if you think you’ve found the perfect buyer, taking a few extra steps to ensure that a potential buyout will meet both parties needs and is overall good for the business can be done by being fully prepared and and working alongside an expert that will help to point you in the right direction. Successfully taking your business won’t happen overnight, in fact most transactions take about six to twelve months to complete, so it pays to be prepared every step of the way.
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