In this TED Talk Jason Fried discusses how managers and meetings disrupt the productivity of employees at work and, therefore, of the company as a whole.
It’s definitely food for thought for business owners. I especially liked the part about recognizing that a 1 hour meeting with 10 attendees costs the company at least 10 hours of productivity.
If you’re an entrepreneur, make sure you and your managers are cognizant of the opportunity costs of every meeting you/they call. That way meetings will only be held when truly necessary and your company’s productivity will improve.
Imagine that a family member came down with an illness and needed you to care for them so you had to step aside as the primary manager of your company. You’re going to hire a manager to make sure that your company continues to thrive and is able to reach its full potential even though you’re not there every day. Make a list of the attributes that you’ll look for in the perfect candidate and it probably looks something like this:
- Industry experience
- Management expertise
- A commitment to the values and mission of the company
- A track record of growth at similar companies
- The ability to motivate and energize employees
- The ability to quickly assess a problem and find solutions, even in times of crisis
- Comfort in assessing team members’ strengths and weaknesses and delegating tasks
- The ability to identify problem employees and under-performers and fire people when necessary
- A strategic mindset
- Ability to develop and execute growth plans
Make whatever list make sense for your company writing down everything that a manager you would hire must have.
Now take that list and honestly evaluate whether or not you have all of the attributes that you require of a manager. If not, you need to consider hiring a professional manager to run your business or you risk your company’s future.
Founders tend to be very possessive of their companies: they put in the blood, sweat, and tears to turn the company from a dream into a reality. The company is their baby and they want to control every inch of it. However, the skills that make a great founder are not necessarily the same skills that make a great leader for a more established company. Often one person does not possess both sets of skills.
Be honest with yourself and if you’re truly a founder, not a manager, pass the torch at the appropriate time. Your company will be better off for it, and so will you. Now you’ll have time to turn that next big idea into a reality….
For more info on how to decide whether you step aside or not, check out this article by Carol Tice: Should You Be the Leader of Your Small Business?
One of the most important – and also most challenging – aspects of business growth for entrepreneurs is figuring out who to hire and when to hire them. In her article, How to Build a Brilliant Team, Katherine Duncan describes how to hire correctly for optimal business performance and growth. Her first tip is to start by filling the key roles of the highest importance to the company. After these basic needs of the company are met, you can then move on to hiring other team members.
In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed a psychological theory known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The theory reflects on fundamental human needs and their hierarchical nature, arguing that basic needs must be met before a person can focus on higher-level emotional or intellectual needs. The theory has been criticized for a number of reasons but is, nonetheless, still used today in business education as a way of understanding a consumer’s motivations for buying a given product or service.
Whether or not you believe the theory holds up for the individual, it is a great way of looking at a business and can help an entrepreneur expand his/her team in the right order.
The graphic below shows Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs as it applies to both the individual and to the small business:
In any small business the owner wears a million hats and must address a range of company needs simultaneously in order to get things started. The roles a founder plays do not fall neatly into the hierarchical categories described above. However, when looking to expand beyond the original founder, and owner should start by honestly evaluating his/her needs and then, starting at the base of the pyramid and working his/her way up, fill in the gaps with new team members who excel in meeting the various needs:
- Basic Needs: A business’ primary needs are the basic elements necessary for survival: the supplies and tools needed to deliver a product or service and a customer to deliver it to. Without either of these your company does not exist. This is why Duncan identifies a salesperson as one of the first employees that must be hired after the person or people that actually perform the work.
- Safety: Once the company’s basic needs are met, it looks to preserve itself. A manager who can appropriately track where resources come into and leave the company and appropriately plan for the future and allocate those resources will ensure that the basic needs of the company will continue to be met and should be the next key hire.
- Love/Belonging: After ensuring the company’s survival, a business owner next strives to make sure that the team is cohesive, happy, and committed to the company’s mission. Proper team building ensures that employees continue to do their jobs well and the company can grow. Thus, a leader who can motivate, inspire, and create cohesion should be next on the list of hires.
- Esteem: Now that the company is secure and the team is happy, it is important that its brand is managed appropriately so that the team remains proud to be a part of that brand and customers want to be associated with the brand. It’s at this stage that a marketing strategist becomes valuable enough to justify a salary.
- Self-Actualization: Finally, the company is thriving and is ready to continually strive to meet its full potential.
This way of looking at who to hire when is clearly an overview and at the high level. Other roles particular to your company’s needs can be fit into the model where you deem appropriate. The basic principle remains the same, however: when hiring, address the company’s most basic needs first and higher level needs second. It does no good to have an amazing brand manager for your widget company if you’re not able to produce any more widgets.
As I’ve mentioned before, one great way for small business owners to get their brand out there and meet new customers is to become a public speaker at events related to your industry or entrepreneurship in general. However, not everyone is a great speaker and boring your audience isn’t really the best way to gain a following.
One great way to liven up your public speaking engagements is to add some humor to your presentation. Keeping the audience laughing and engaged helps you build rapport and trust and helps the audience absorb what you’re explaining. With that said, check out this article from Humor Consultant Malcolm Kushner to make sure that you’re the star presenter that everyone wants to talk to at every event and you’ll be picking up heaps of new clients and partners in no time.
On a side note, who knew there was such a thing as a Humor Consultant? If you have a passion for something and the know how to make money off of it, go for it!