Monthly Archives: February 2014

Five Biggest Mistakes made by Successful Business Owners

19 Feb
by Bridget DiCello
  1. Not Following their Vision. A successful business owner sees possibilities, has strong opinions how things should be done and how the product or service should be delivered. Over time, that vision may get eroded due to obstacles, people who tell them their expectations are too high (employees, managers or peers), or getting plum worn out. No one sees the exact vision of an entrepreneur (yes, that can be a lonely place to be), but that also creates an extremely valuable niche and competitive advantage, which should not be ignored, buried or seen as too idealistic. It may not be achieved tomorrow, but if the owner remains the driving force, it will be realized! Their vision of the future needs to be shared, embodied in the written goals which are communicated to the team, and success measured against this vision regularly.
  2. They get bored.  Yes, despite all that is going on, successful business owners have an ongoing desire to innovate, intense drive towards a unique path, and a strong focus on improvement. Because of these factors, the owner may find themselves getting bored maintaining consistent business practices, accountabilities and adherence to quality standards – all necessary to run a successful business well. This is the point where they must have a team who can maintain the success they’ve created and still find time for the owner to innovate and drive new initiatives.
  3. Blinded by success. I would never assume that my four-year-old who plays soccer is the best he will ever be at the game. However, owners may tend to assume that as adults and professionals they have stopped growing. Sure, they may learn new technical skills, but they also need to be willing to work on themselves and their team members, even the star players, to grow professionally. Both successful owners and key team players must be challenged in order to not lose motivation, and this must be a purposeful activity.
  4. Forgetting their least favorite basics.  In order to start a business, you have to get a lot of things right, and not all of them are an individual owner’s favorite things to do consistently and purposefully. These might include:
    1. Hiring the right people, through a careful process
    2. Measuring performance and providing routine accountability
    3. Innovation in sales and marketing
    4. Providing structure to enable the team to be successful
    5. Watching the profitability and not just the growth in revenue
    6. Watching the top-line revenue and not just the profit margin
  5. Too much, or not enough, delegation.  Out of a desire for life balance after working so hard to bring the business to this level of success, owners may move too far out of the business, assuming their wonderful team can handle it without their leadership involvement. On the other hand, the owner may also desire to micromanage what is most important – often an area they may have a greater ability to execute than anyone on the team. Certain things need to be delegated, and others don’t. When tasks are delegated, certain reporting structures and accountabilities must be in place to ensure the owner still experiences the results they desire.

Has your level of success been stalled due to one of these mistakes?

The Real Difference between a Manager and a Leader

04 Feb
by Bridget DiCello

Managers do things right. They create and ensure adherence to processes. The measure performance and hold people accountable. They increase efficiency, speed and outputs.

Leaders do the right things. They inspire trust and engage others to follow their vision. They rally the troops. They build strong teams. They innovate, think long term and challenge the status quo.

Both roles are important, and critical to success.

These are typical definitions of a manager and leader, and they miss something VERY important.

Recently, I heard Osama bin Laden and Hitler referred to as effective leaders because they were able to rally their followers towards a vision and build a strong team. This pinpoints what the definitions above are missing.

Leadership is about two things:

  1. Having a unique vision and being able to rally others towards it, AND
  2. Bringing out the best in the people who work with you.

As human beings, we are each created with a purpose in life; strengths, talents and skills to be able to accomplish that purpose; and both obstacles and assistance that meet us along the way. We are at our best when we are using our strengths to become the best that we can be. When we only have a manager, they help us use our skills and knowledge to accomplish things, but not necessarily to become a better version of ourselves (Matthew Kelly has brilliant work on this topic.)

Leadership is about connecting with a person to help them to access their amazing potential, of which most people never get anywhere near discovering even half of it, experience success, and applying that towards the inspired vision of an entrepreneurial leader. Leadership towards something that is immoral or unethical is simply manipulation. People are not created to do evil. We may not all agree with each person’s vision, and hence the bountiful variety of people, businesses and charitable efforts. However, a leader is not a leader if they don’t work to bring out the best in those who work with them.