Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

Your “experience” is what’s holding your managers back and limiting your growth

If you hired the right managers, who are better than you in their areas of expertise, then the key to getting them to excel is simply to unleash them.

In other words, get out of his or her way!

You just need to let him make his own decisions, his own mistakes, and allow him to lead his own team. Once you realize that your “experience” and knowledge is actually holding your team back, then real growth can start.

If you’re doing ANY of the following, you’re holding your leaders back:

  1. Addressing issues with the team members who should report to him. This should be clearly defined in your organizational chart.
  2. Addressing issues from customers who should be talking to him. If your customers have been trained to go to you to get the best deal, then un-train them by making sure all pricing goes through your chosen leader.
  3. Vetoing ideas and making decisions in his department. Your job as the CEO, Owner, President or Team Leader is to explain why you think something will or will not work. Not to make the decision.
  4. Dictating that leader’s schedule. Sure you can ask him to take care of an issue or help you with something, but dictating a schedule without his approval is more like putting on a choke collar and then asking him to chase away the rabbits. He can try as hard as he wants but he’s never going to get the job done.
  5. Second-guessing or analyzing every decision. The details are not important to you, only the results are. Allow him to work out the details. (I explain below what to do if you think he’s going to implement a bad idea.)
  6. Holding regular meetings to ensure you ultimately get to make the “big” decisions. Quite often this is done indirectly. You might never come out and say, “It has to be done this way because I said so.” But saying, “You know, I really think that idea won’t work but it’s up to you,” is interpreted as “You better not try that!“, when it comes from most bosses.
  7. Ignoring mistakes that are made. This is a major misconception. Allowing people to make mistakes, in and of itself, is pretty worthless. Not addressing those mistakes is downright harmful to your business and the mistake maker. Mistakes should only be made once and the only way to ensure that your leader knows that it was a mistake, and has a way to prevent it from happening again, is to openly discuss mistakes. Biting your lip because you’re afraid to hurt his feelings by pointing out a mistake, is a sign that you still have him on a leash.

So how do you keep tabs on your newly free leaders?

  1. You need some “Rules of the Game” in the form of a written Vision, Mission and Culture. Think of these like your 10 Commandments of business. Everyone on your team doesn’t need to memorize them. However, your key leaders do need to know what’s expected of them and the clearest way to do that is in writing.
  2. You must have a Weekly Action SnapShot (WacSnap) so you can keep regular tabs on the key areas of your business. Depending on your function on the team, this may be included in a weekly meeting with your key leaders.
  3. You need Key Performance Indicators for each leader. For example:
    1. Service leaders need to demonstrate a profitable service department with minimal call-backs and customer complaints.
    2. Marketing leaders need a target acquisition cost, marketing ROI, number of leads, and conversion rate.
    3. Sales leaders also need to know conversion rate along with average dollar sale and lifetime value of a customer.
    4. Finance leaders need to know cash on hand, cash in receivables, and pending payables at all times. She also needs a target goal for savings and capital available for upcoming large purchases.
  4. At least twice a year you need to conduct a 12 Questions survey with each leader.

What if a leader is going to make a bad decision?

Have you ever made a bad decision? Since you’re reading this, then you somehow managed to survive it. Most poor decisions will fall on that side of the coin – They’re survivable. Keep that in mind.

  1. Ask him (don’t tell him) why he thinks X will work out well.
  2. Ask him if he knows of anyone else who has implemented it successfully. If not, and you have a resource for him to talk to on this topic, then offer it. You don’t have to pretend to be the expert on every topic. It’s much better to have a list of resources available.
  3. Let him know you’ve tried something similar to that before and ask if he’d like a few ideas.
  4. Find out how he plans to measure if the idea is successful or not. Every idea should have a measurement for success and just defining that allows most people to see the flaws in their own ideas.
  5. If he still thinks it’s a good idea, no one is going to die, the business isn’t going to go under, and an account worth more than 5% of your gross sales doesn’t have a highly likely chance of getting lost, back off and let him implement the idea.
  6. Once he realizes he’s made a mistake (which will be obvious if you did step #4), ask him what went wrong. Again, don’t just tell him. If you ever want him to think critically and figure out how to catch mistakes before they’re ever made, you have to stop spoon-feeding him all the answers. 
  7. If the idea does work, congratulate him on a job well done! Now go celebrate because allowing a leader to do something you didn’t think would work and being proven wrong, just helped you take a giant leap towards growing your business without it depending solely on you.

Won’t that take more time than me just making all the decisions?

Yes. At first.

You can only physically make so many decisions so your growth will be limited. Additionally, your freedom and ability to take vacations will also be limited.

More importantly, the ability for your team managers to be fully engaged and satisfied with their work will also be very limited.

One last thought…

For some people, “unleashing” your managers is going to be a BIG change. You’re not quite ready for it and they don’t quite believe you’re serious.

So during this transition, when someone comes to you to ask a question, don’t assume she wants your opinion. Chances are she doesn’t. She just doesn’t fully believe the decision is in her own hands and still doesn’t want to do something you won’t like.

Before you answer her question, you need to ask directly, “Are you looking for my approval or my opinion? If you want my approval, you have it. If you want my opinion, I’ll only give it to you if you treat it for what it is. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the best decision for your team.

More importantly, when you say that, you better mean it!

To your success in unleashing the talents within your leaders, Bryan

Why I decided to buy my first new cell phone of this millenium…

A few weeks ago after much research and debate I finally decided to fork over the money and buy my first brand new cell phone of the millenium. The only other new phone I have ever owned was the phone I originally bought when I first started cell service in 2000. Since then I had an Ebay phone and a $20 phone that I bought from my bro. So what prompted me to spend $200 on a brand new Blackberry Curve 8830 and renew my contract for 2 years???

  1. The $400 discount was more than the $200 cancellation fee. I absolutely hate phone contracts so I haven’t had one since 2002. The main reason for that is (A) I’m always moving and need to make sure wherever I live the phone service is going to have good reception. (B), and more importantly, on about a yearly basis I would call my phone provider, ask for the cancellation department and get them to give me additional minutes, services, or credits because without a contract they’ll do whatever they can to keep my business. 🙂 So even if I have to pay the $200 cancellation fee at some point, that’s still better than not signing a contract and forking over an additional $400 up front.
  2. I wanted to know immediately if a sales lead or other important email came in. It’s very important to respond to sales leads right away so if someone emails us an inquiry I want to get them a call back within 20 minutes. The only way I could ensure that was if I was in front of my email all day or I was able to check me email on my Blackberry Curve.
  3. I needed an efficient way to stay in touch with my office. Not everyone has a company cell phone so text messaging isn’t a good option though it’s used at times. Very often talking on the phone while in a meeting (or out on the golf course) isn’t really acceptable. However a quick IM through GoogleTalk allows people in my office to easily ask questions that I can respond to while someone else is teeing off… err… uhhh… I mean presenting. 🙂
  4. I moved 1900 miles from home and my sense of direction is lacking… Integrated GPS helps. The GPS has search function to tell you where to find the cheapest gas in your area, how to find businesses and restaurants, or even a friends house. And since it’s all right in my phone it easily moves with me from car to car. It’s even integrated with my calendar so that when my phone texts me to remind me of an appointment, I just click “Drive to” and it tells me how to get there. Time is money so not getting lost is a valuable feature.
  5. It is a legitimate business expense. Since I always worked for someone else, forking over $200 after-tax dollars for a phone always seemed like a lot. Now that my business pays that and the monthly service plan pre-tax, its a much better deal.
  6. Provided the perfect way to always have my schedule. It instantly syncs with Google Calendar thanks to googles free mobile sync options. Within minutes of putting an appointment on my Google Calendar it’s synced up to my phone wirelessly and vice-versa. No sync cables or docking stations or any of that silly stuff.
  7. It has unlimited internet access. So whether I’m checking into a flight while sitting in a car on my way to a wedding, keeping up on the Pens score, looking up the departure gate for my connecting flight, or reviewing the weather forecast at “Current Location” (GPS integration, baby), having the internet at your fingertips never seems to get old.
  8. My goal is to be as mobile as possible so I can run multiple businesses at the same time. When you add all of these things together, it sums up the most complete mobile toolbox since a laptop. Obviously I can’t do everything with it, but I can do most things.

Other technologies that are on my “Must-have” list for a mobile work environment:

  1. Kindle: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device – If you’re like me, you read. A LOT. And every time you travel you have 2-4 books to pack away in your bag that you’re working on. Or you’re at the office and need to reference something that’s in a book at home. Well the Kindle gets rid of all of that. Imagine having all of your books (120,000 at last count are available) at your fingertips in a device the size of a single book. Don’t forget you can also have your favorite magazine or newspaper (I prefer The Wall Street Journal) delivered wirelessly to your Kindle. You can even buy new books for $9.95 (less than a paperback version) anywhere you have a cell signal and have it delivered to your Kindle in about 60 seconds. This is by far the coolest thing that has come along in a long time.
  2. Document Scanner – How can you possibly be mobile if your important documents and all of your customer’s information is stuck in filing cabinets??? You can’t. Buy a good document scanner and scan EVERYTHING into your computer. The time you invest to do that will payoff 10 fold in just having access to everything you’ll ever need at the click of a button. You’ll be able to serve your customers better and be more efficient. My personal recommendations are anything with Fujitsu ScanSnap as well as the Fujitsu 5110c. The Canon DR2050c and 2080c are also top-notch units. Don’t ever spend less than $100 on your business scanner. It won’t be worth it. Trust me.
  3. Server with remote access. Along with my receivables, scheduling and lead-tracking software, this allows me to work from almost anywhere I can find internet access. My preference is a Windows 2003 Server with Terminal Services since I can access it with my Linux laptop, a Macintosh, or obviously any windows based computer.

What technologies are allowing you to become more mobile???

To your success, Bryan

P.S. You can access my blog on both the Kindle and the Blackberry. 😉