For me, especially when evaluating a potential investment, the difference in what can become only an average or possibly good business instead of a great or even exceptional business comes down to the intangible things about the business. Sure, the things like team, traction, target market et al are all important and still they are only conditions of the state that can create an exceptional business.
What do I mean by the intangibles? Simply put character and leadership! … and I imagine several people’s eyes will roll and glaze over at that statement as they ask themselves, ‘so what am I supposed to do with that?’.
Here’s what! Is your way of being in your business the way of an owner? Does what you do and how you do it help other people? Do you do the right thing, especially when no one's watching? The worst type of employee mentality is to do the right thing when it serves personal agenda and do enough to keep your job instead of actually doing your job, which is part of doing the right thing even when no one is around.
Great and exceptional companies and organisations are constructed around people who have the mindset of owners. People who are consciously on a journey to figure out what they believe. People who have the guts to be in a way that helps both the organisation and helps other people. If you are the business owner or a C-level executive it is your responsibility to foster this mindset in the business.
So understand from this, I am not just talking about the business owner or C-level management. Anyone, everyone, in any company or organisation has the ability to be like an owner. If you are the actual owner or part of the C-suite of a larger organisation then it is your responsibility to hire people who have the mindset of an owner and nurture that in them and in the team. But here’s the rub, unless you have it yourself, how can you ever identify it in others to hire them let alone to nurture it in them?
I get it that we all tune into the same radio station wii.fm … what’s in it for me … and that’s fine as a concept. Only a lot of people take the approach that their reason for being in business or following any profession is simply to put money in their pocket so they can put food on the table, a roof over their head, procreate and have a vacation once a year, and then rinse and repeat with the next generation. They’re clueless how robotic their lives are.
Helping other people, adding value as a focus, really is not part of the equation. That kind of mindset, is not going to manifest experiences for anyone to be like a leader. You are not going to be like an owner and the time will come when it catches up with you. The way you be in your business will be reflected in the people you hire, their way of being, the type of clients you attract and the results of the business.
It’s innate in the human form to want to promote others or advance others who make others better, not simply those who produce. In a professional setting people feel good about promoting others that make the organization better.
A key part of this is the ability to detach, which you’ve probably heard of and may have explored to some degree. In this context I mean detach from the need to be right, the need to be acknowledged for having a great idea, the need to protect from potential ridicule or worse fear of repercussions. The mindset of an owner has none of these needs.
When they figure out what they believe and are passionate about something people with an owner mindset stand up and speak out no matter what the perceived consequences. It’s a choice rather than a calculated decision. It’s doing the right thing versus backing down because of the thought that "yeah, that's a bit too risky. I don't think so." which is part of the worst type of employee mindset.
Part of that mindset is the person, whether work-floor or management, who thinks that maybe they should figure out what the boss thinks and then act as if that's what they think. Or when the boss suggests a course of action and they disagree with it and think it's a mistake, they say nothing
“Oh but the boss doesn’t like people disagreeing with him so they may not like what I have to say.” … so instead of standing up and speaking out like an owner, they sit down and shut up. That helps no one! … and the crazy thing is that there are a lot of business owners and senior executives who act more like employees than bosses, afraid to upset people and never speak out. Then they wonder why the whole dog and pony show goes to hell and back.
You have to say, "Okay, I'm going to take the risk. I'm going to be myself." Why try being someone else? You can’t. It never works and if the outcome is they are pissed off consider the possibility that the relationship is one that is not in sync and possibly should never have been.
Now, this is not open or creative license to go off the reservation. Far from it.
You have to use good judgment and you have to express yourself respectfully. At the same time you also have to play this game of life with detachment from the outcome. It is in part that detachment that will liberate you to be yourself.
If you master this, I believe will go so much further and take your business so much further than is currently within reach. With over thirty years of business under my belt, I can honestly say I prefer to elevate, promote, work with, invest in somebody who's willing to speak up and disagree, when they do it with conviction and accept responsibility for the outcome of their choices. These are the people I want to be a part of and have them be a part of me. These are the people around who you can build a company.
My wish for you if we work together is to help you to transform your situation so you can shine. So you can be yourself, and be authentically you. So you can do what you are meant to do and build a business that serves others and you and gives you the lifestyle you desire and an exit you deserve. My wish for you is that you and the people in your business get further than your current potential.