Years ago I realized that I didn't know what I didn't know. I was clueless about running a large business and it wasn't until I realized it, that my "learning" started!
I had been put into the role of COO of our family spice and nut business and then I came to realize that I was not in the spice and nut business, I was actually in the people business.
What do I mean by the people business?
Let me share with you my experience with many businesses.
Most business owners that I come across these days are struggling with multiple issues. For many it's talent, for some it's partners, for those in family business it's the family, etc. One business owner shared with me that they flushed a million dollars down the drain because they had no clue how to read a financial statement.
A family business I know had to go to court to find out what one member was doing with the finances...
Most business owners start and run their business with certain expertise. i.e. real estate, Amazon, etc. They understand that they need to be very competent in their knowledge in order to succeed.
However as the business grows they need to learn new skillsets and at each level there are new things they have to learn. Sometimes they have to learn, unlearn and relearn!
The model they must go through is called:
The Hierarchy of Competence-
1. Unconscious Incompetence….Wrong Intuition
2. Conscious Incompetence...Wrong Analysis
3. Conscious Competence...Right Analysis
4. Unconscious Competence...Right Intuition
My mentor, Roy Camarrano says that as the entrepreneur build their company they need to build his or her's leadership skills and empower the team to run the day too day. Or as Michael Gerber in eMyth says, you need to work more on the business than in the business.
Instead the entrepreneur gets entrenched in running (parts of) their business and as it becomes more demanding they "abdicate" or wha I call "sink or swim", the other departments, they can't handle, to others . It usually doesn't work out.
Mostly, because they don't realize that in order to take the business to the next level they need to learn a whole new set of skills.
They are now in the "people" business.
I would say that there are 5 primary skills that an entrepreneur needs to learn.
In leadership or as Roy calls it, Visionary Leadership, it's all about creating the vision and implementing the vision but only by empowering others and not jumping in and out when they think someone is messing up...This is the most challenging aspect of true leadership.
Empathic Listening. Covey in the 7 Habits says that the hardest habit for leaders is to listen, really listen. Most people listen with the intent to reply. Listen with the intent to understand.
Accountability is an art and science. Most entrepreneurs get it wrong if at all. They're either micro managing their people or abdicating. Both are a disaster.
When people, especially good people are leaving it's usually because of either micromanaging or abdicating.
Relationships based on trust will help build your organization. Make sure you are trustworthy in order to build trusting relationships. One important aspect is to be consistent. Inconsistent behavior in leadership creates mistrust.
Negotiations are a continuous need in building a business. With vendors, clients, employees, negotiations are very important, though it needs to be based on "win-win". The key elements of a win-win is Courage and Consideration. You must have equal parts of courage to stand up for your needs as much as equal parts of consideration for other people's needs.
When I meet with entrepreneurs, I'm interested to hear about how they are reinventing themselves, otherwise, it's what Einstein calls "the definition of insanity. Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results".
Entrepreneurs don't even realize when they're doing the wrong things and as someone once said the entrepreneur always reserves the right to shoot himself in the leg.
Employees will not jeopardize their jobs to tell you the truth as most of the times they get fired. So they will stay and either look for another job on your dollar or just do enough to get by.
Getting to the first step is the hardest, as entrepreneurs need to be humble about their ignorance and that's not easy to hear.