There are two main reasons that entrepreneurs fail to grow their business and maintain a healthy personal life. Dr. Ollie Malone, author of 101 Leadership Actions for Performance Management (HRD Press), has spent over 30 years working in major corporations as an executive, developer of executives, consultant, author and speaker. He holds a bachelor's degree in Communication, a master's degree in hearing and speech, a master of business administration degree, a Ph.D. in adult learning and development, and a D.Min. in transformational leadership. Dr. Malone’s insights are a prelude to sorting this out:
Q. How has the recent economic situation affected the way people structure their personal and professional lives?
A. Many leaders are looking for ways to improve the overall quality of life for employees in their organizations—especially when they are less able to do so through financial means.
One approach that many of these companies are using is one that allows employees to work from home one day a week, multiple days a week, or allows them to work from home 100% of the time. But, in most cases, these companies don’t know how to manage employees they can not see.
The historical assumption was that if employees are in their cubicles or offices, they are working. Somehow, we didn’t consider that they could be playing solitaire, managing a sideline real estate business, or lining up interviews for their next opportunity. What the current increase in employees working in a non-residential capacity is pointing out is the fact that we didn’t know how to manage their work EVER, and the current situation only brings that reality into sharper focus.
Q. How do you think people have changed the way they approach organizational development?
A. Since OD (organization development) tends to be the first cousin of training and development, it has often suffered the same fate as T&D: when times get hard, programs, services, and staff get cut. This penny-wise-and-pound-foolish approach has been institutionalized in most organizations without giving a moment’s consideration to whether this approach makes sense and brings benefit to the long-term strategy of the organization.
Q. Moving forward, what do you think is the biggest challenge that organizations will face?
A. Communicating the value of organizational development in the midst of all of the issues that are demanding attention and resolution is one of the most formidable challenges. If the issue is organizational survival, does it really matter if you have an engaging succession plan?
At some point the organization is going to have to at least ask the question. For too many, issues of longer-term interest are being sacrificed at the feet of “immediate results.”
Dr. Malone’s thoughts lead me back to my title: Two Reasons You May be Failing to Grow Your Company and Have a Life.These reasons are why you’re stuck and cannot grow your business; they’re the bottlenecks that keep you from growing your business while keeping a personal life.
Whether you're a solo entrepreneur attempting to grow to 5 people, or a 20 person team attempting to fuel momentum for 20+ percent growth, or a larger organization looking at international expansion or franchising – the challenge remains the same. After alignment, there are two basic barriers that get in your way for business growth:
- Control. Whether it’s a false sense of control, a need to control, or even the illusion of control – it will be your downfall. When entrepreneurs begin to delegate to others they usually fall into one of two patterns: 1) thinking that once a task is delegated all will be fine (after all, I hired good people), or 2) once you begin to delegate to others you need to know their every step and decision (it’s called micromanagement). As you grow your company, every weak link will be tested, and as you strengthen one, another will be discovered or magnified. Our Rhythm methodology offers the right balance between the two, and you should ask yourself, “how do I find and keep the right balance?"
- Identity. Many start-up and small company entrepreneurs identify themselves with their business. Since I was experienced at speaking, I named my company after my last name (Pruitt) and what I did (speaking) to form “Pruspeak.” It was sort of like Wal-Mart. It became my identity. If you were a great HVAC installer named Bob your business might become “Bob’s HVAC.” Since the business is named “Bob’s,” who do I expect to see on my property when the HVAC isn’t working? Bob.
As my Pruspeak business scaled, clients wanted more of me (since they knew that I was the guy). It didn’t take long to realize that my company (and I) needed a new identity. Once rebranded there was less resistance for clients to accept consultants or speakers other than me. If your dream is to build a scalable business, then carefully consider your company name. The E-Myth and Rhythm are good reference books for then building a scalable business. You can read more about scalable processes.
The above two reasons may be why you’re failing as a growing company and can’t seem to get a life. The probing question is, what to do about it? You should give serious thought to your business activities today, and how you might delegate each tomorrow. Look for ways to pass duties to others so you may focus on your most necessary role and activity. After all, if you were a brain surgeon, your best use of time would be in the operating room, not sterilizing equipment. It has nothing to do with what you can do, it’s a matter of the highest use of resources and skills. This works for your team and your resources as you succeed in growing your business. Now go get a life!
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images