Monthly Archives: February 2016

Meet the entrepreneur 5: Favouritism in small businesses

Entrepreneurs and favouritism in small businesses“It’s not what you know, but who you know”

Nepotism and favouritism are significant issues in most small companies. These seem to be accentuated in the entrepreneurial sphere, where either family and friends are employed because the entrepreneur knows and trusts them, or it becomes a convenient recruitment process short cutting many aspects of red tape and inconvenient checks. 

It is also a common habit of entrepreneurs to show preference to those who work well, further the company’s goals, or simply ‘click’ with the entrepreneur. Although this sounds natural, and in some respects even acceptable, the concept of inequality in the treatment of staff raises its head as a significant issue for both the favourite and non-favourite employees. It is not only unethical, but also counter-productive.

The favourites often become victimised and comments such as “you get anything you ask for” become prolific in the hallways, whereas “I never get anything, no matter how badly I need it to do my job!” is often also heard. Whether the favouritism is justified or not, whether it exists or not, the reality is that it is a destructive practice in any business, and even more so in a small company where each staff member needs to make a difference.

What is the solution? A simple and structured performance based reward system that correlates directly to work tasks and projects. The problem in implementing this is the general lack of systems in entrepreneurial businesses.

A final note worth considering: if you were building a business, and some employees worked harder that others and added greater value, do you think you could conceal a preference for them?


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Meet the entrepreneur 4: Accountability

Cultures of accountability in the workplaceAccountability is something that tends to come naturally to the entrepreneur in his or her own business. However, to implement a culture of accountability is not so easy.

The main reason is because the entrepreneur owns and runs the business – everything is his or hers. That includes taking credit when a big deal is closed, or putting out fires when that yelling important client is angry.

Embedding a culture of accountability in an entrepreneurial business is a process.

It starts with individuals feeling a sense of ownership in their jobs, and then a sense of ownership in the business.

When there is ownership in a job, it doesn’t really matter whose business it is, the person responsible and ultimately accountable for finishing off a specific piece of work remains responsible through to the end.

When it comes to feeling a sense of ownership in a business, here the entrepreneur needs to be instrumental in ‘sharing’ the business. By making people feel that the company is ‘ours’, the clients are ‘ours’ and the successes are ‘ours’, accountability also becomes a culture of ‘ours’. There needs to be a zero tolerance for blame, and an embracing of ‘failing forward’ – growth from mistakes.

Accountability is an invaluable culture. Once an entrepreneur has embedded this in the business, each employee in the business builds feels empowered to grow their section and develop the company as a whole.


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The five habits of successful people

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They say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and just two days of not doing something for a habit to be lost. That sounds like quite a bit of hard work!

The truth is though that there are certain habits that are worth forming, and worth working on, because the end results yield wonderful rewards.

There have been many studies that analyse what successful people do, when and why. What is most interesting is that commonalities do exist. These are some of the practices that successful people engage I before 9am:

  1. They meditate

Meditation is not for everyone, but meditation takes various forms. You don’t have to sit cross legged on the floor, humming. Rather, it can also be quiet introspective reflection where you contemplate your life, your business and your goals in a quiet and concentrated space.

  1. They read

Successful people read prolifically. They focus and become experts on topics that are pertinent and relevant to their businesses. They take the time to develop their knowledge base and skill-set so that they are ahead of the pack, and create their own opinions and frameworks.

  1. They exercise

Successful people take care of their bodies as well as their minds and spirituality. They keep themselves active in such a way that their bodies are a tool and not an inhibitor. Successful people realise that accomplishment requires an holistic approach, and that exercise provides energy, endorphins, and improves overall health.

  1. They eat well

Food is fuel that energises your body. Healthy eating maintains a healthy mindset and provides the ability to concentrate on what matters. Most people will tell you that if they start the day eating well, they tend to watch what they eat throughout the day. Successful people will verify this. Breakfast is taken seriously, and it’s healthy.

  1. They network 

One of the fundamental components to success is networking. And believe it or not, this is a habit. Successful people prioritise networking and work on networking all the time. They also follow up and build relationships with their network so that it is stable, accessible and the business person remains memorable.


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Meet the entrepreneur 3: Delegation

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Passion and drive are key characteristics that enthuse the entrepreneur. Usually the business owner starts off by themselves, or with a partner, taking care of every aspect of the business – from marketing to tea making, from finance to floor sweeping. This is their business, their dream and they are going to make it work.

One of the greatest challenges that the entrepreneur has to deal with is the shift of doing it all yourself to learning how to ask for help.

Delegation has been cited as one of the most difficult areas for an entrepreneur to master. Not because the skill in itself is difficult; rather because the process of letting go and learning to trust others can be very painful.

Entrepreneurs will often make statements such as “If I want it done right, I need to do it myself”, or “it takes too long to explain; I’d rather just get it done quickly”.

The problem with those statements is that the culmination of tasks not only results in a huge quantity of time that could be spent more productively, it also clouds mind space.  The entrepreneur could be strategising or negotiating, but he or she finds themselves buried in a pile of operational tasks, where they feel themselves drowning in admin.  This does not grow the business.

Learning to delegate is a skill which takes practice. It is also a gift for the entrepreneur to give themselves – the gift of extra time, a free mind, and the knowledge that the entire business doesn’t only sit on their shoulders.


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Meet the entrepreneur 2: The need for processes

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In order to start a business there needs to be a spark of creativity. An innovator, maverick or unique thinker who has the capacity to see things in a way that others just don’t. This talent is rare and admired. This is the entrepreneur.

One of the greatest issues that entrepreneurs face is their ability to thrive in chaos. So often things are done in a way that serves the client, without any thought or structure going to the way things are done. Business processes and systems are often the last consideration on an entrepreneur’s mind. The emphasis is on opening a market, gaining market share and building a business… everything else comes second, to be dealt with as needed.

It’s not a matter of ability, but rather a complete lack of motivation to implement policies that will become standard operating procedures. Putting in place processes often offers no challenge to the mind that is seeking gaps and opportunities.  Often entrepreneurs see processes as something that large corporates must have in order to keep a whole lot of people really busy, but not achieving business growth.

However, processes are what keeps the business on track and the people maintaining and improving their standards on an ongoing basis.

For the entrepreneur, as their business reaches a certain level, suddenly the way things are done in the office become a frustration. The need to standardise and optimise , with office and procedural functions, become a priority.

This is a natural progression from an entrepreneurially run business to a professionally run business.

The fact that it is natural doesn’t make it easier to grow through, but it does mean that the business is no longer a start-up and is now becoming an established organisation.


 

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Meet the entrepreneur: Employee motivation

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The entrepreneur, by nature, is a highly enthusiastic and energetic individual. This person normally has an exceptional passion for his or her business with an incredible drive to ensure their business’ success. Their passion and drive often seems endless and relentless, and herein arises the first significant problem that many entrepreneurs face: Employee motivation.

So often an entrepreneur will say to us: Surely their salary is enough? They’re being paid to do a job, why must I incentivise further? There is a lot of validity in this argument.

The problem lies not in the action of having to incentivise; rather in the understanding that for the employee this is very often a job, whereas for the entrepreneur, this is their life.

The culture of an entrepreneurially run business is frequently one in which the owner is synonymous with the business. It is the charisma of the entrepreneur that motivates employees to want to work as part of a team to grow the business.

Therein lies the solution to motivating employees without providing external incentives: make the employees feel that they are part – and an important part – of the business.

To initiate a business, market, or even an industry is exciting and dynamic. There is nothing quite like creating your own space in the market, and then building it to the next level. No person can create and build a business single-handedly – there is always a need for people to assist, innovate and proactively contribute.

By making people aware of their value and their role in growing the business, they start to feel appreciated, and they start taking ownership of their part of the growth. Isn’t that the greatest accomplishment for any entrepreneur? Not owning 100% of their own small pie, but rather building an enormous pie in which all the contributors share a piece, and each piece can grow and grow through joint nurturing. Entrepreneurship is about creating, and developing “intrapreneurs” within your business is a creation in itself.


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