September 25th, 2009 20:17 EST
Scattered & All Over The Place
The word entrepreneur has become a catch all title for just about everyone and anyone who starts and or builds a business. I`ve always had a bit of trouble throwing that overused, imported moniker around because I believe it`s not always applied in the correct manner.
Is an entrepreneur someone who takes the family business and keeps it going? Is it the person who builds a new division of the company where they`re employed? Or should it be reserved for only those who have put everything on the line in order to build their business? I`ll opt for the latter.
I`ll never forget being at an area Chamber of Commerce awards dinner some years back when I was surprised to find that the recipient of the Entrepreneur of The Year award went to a gentleman whose father had started the business many years before and built it into quite a successful venture. By the time the son had arrived to run the company it was already a multi-million dollar operation! Wait a minute ", I said to myself, How can this guy be the entrepreneur of the year when he was handed the reins of a large, seemingly profitable, corporation? " Dad did all the risk taking and sonny boy gets the awards, huh?!
So let`s be a little cautious when throwing around that wonderful term "entrepreneur. It`s too near and dear to those genuine, Hey I`ve got an idea "I think it`ll work "I`m quitin` my job and goin` for it " folks who really put their life on the line for the challenge.
The entrepreneur is an interesting study. He or she, by definition, is a person who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assuming the risk for the sake of their dreams and hopefully profits (which may be one and the same).
Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, yet there are some attributes that seem to be common in most of them.
They are for the most part pretty good at getting things going. They are an excitable bunch. Caught up in the enthusiasm of their ideas and dreams they rush forward with their embryonic plans until they become reality. They certainly can organize and manage their business in the beginning, but then what?
Many of them get stuck. Why? Because they`re entrepreneurs, that`s why. The entrepreneur gets his or her juice from creating new things, conceiving great ideas and putting them into action. However, once the thrill is gone, so is the impetus needed to keep it going in an orderly fashion.
Classic entrepreneurs often have trouble taking their businesses to the next level. I like to call it going from an entrepreneurial venture into a corporation. Of course, I realize that the entrepreneurial venture may actually be a corporation, but that`s in name only. It`s changing a mindset and beginning to act like a corporation.
That means structure and manuals, policies and procedures. It also means less nepotism and more qualifications.
Unfortunately, the entrepreneur quite often doesn`t realize what he or she needs because they`re to busy creating and building to worry too much about the details. All of a sudden they turn around and they start to see that they could easily busy themselves out of business. Yes, that is possible.
Lack of a solid structure can do that.
Entrepreneurs have a tendency to do everything themselves. That often comes from the way they started the business. But as the business grows that becomes impossible. Yet, too many of them can`t let go. They become scattered, do too many things, and at times compensate by micromanaging. It`s tough to watch your baby grow and realize that someone else can do this or that task better than you.
That doesn`t mean losing that good old family feeling or stopping the Let`s go for a drink after work " routine. What it does mean is beginning to realize that you`re in need of a controller and hiring one, putting a person in the marketing department who has actually done something like that before and even hiring a President or COO to run the ship and its structure so that you, the entrepreneur can do what you do best, create and build, direct and play.
If you are a classic entrepreneur stand back and look at yourself and your company. Yes I know that that may mean that you might have to stop running around like a chicken without a head. Take a second and assess what`s really going on around you.
· Are you trying to do too many things yourself?
· Do you have so much work that it seems like you`re never finished?
· Do you know what you want your business to look like by the end of the year, three years and five years?
· Do you waste time doing tasks that you shouldn`t be doing?
· Can you delegate better than you do?
· Have you lost sight of your original goal?
· Are you not as organized as you could or should be?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions it`s time to sit down and write out an operations/expansion (OE) plan. The plan must include:
- A breakdown of the tasks involved in the day-to-day operation of the business
- A listing of the priorities of those tasks
- A clear vision of where you would like the company to be at year`s end, in three years and five years
- A realistic understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of all employees, including yourself
- A breakdown of your typical day. This may necessitate time charting your activities for each day for a week.
- A outline of why you started the company
- An inventory of how organized, or disorganized, your office and/or work area is
With the information in your OE plan you can begin to structure yourself and your company. You may find that you may be quite capable of taking your company to the next level or that you may be quite content leaving the structural part of that mission to someone else while you play the creative role and still have the ability to reap the benefits without the stress of being in a position that`s uncomfortable.
Take the time to understand that entrepreneurs can be great at one thing but as the entity expands, not so wonderful at the tasks needed in the new environment that the growth they started brings. It`s ok. Think of it as a parent watching their child leave for their first of so many days of school. They`ll do fine on their own, they have a structured environment, with good instructors and a president (principal) to oversee the situation.
But when it comes time for some really important life decisions, the child comes back to the parent (or entrepreneur) for the insights and wisdom that only he or she can provide.
Dan Goldberg is a keynote speaker and the President of Dan Goldberg Consulting, L.L.C. a training, coaching and business development firm located in the Philadelphia, PA area. He is the author of the book Lighten Up and Lead, " co-author (with Don Martin) of the book The Entrepreneur`s Guide to Successful Leadership, " and author of The Six Steps To Solid Sales Success " and The Seven Elements of Successful Management " programs and the audio tape Growing A Successful Business ". You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his website at www.dangoldberg.com or reach him at (215) 233-5352