Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Gospel for Small Businesses

You've got to hire people you can trust (in terms of ability and integrity) to do the work of your company.
You've got to let go, allow your people to work.

So many Nigerian small business owners are actually what Rich Dad, Poor Dad's Robert Kiyosaki would call "self-employed." They do not have scalable businesses, that is they would faint if the amount of customers/business/money doubled. Why? Because there is one person - the owner - doing a lot of critical work.

If the fear is of people running away with your money, then design a system in which people can't run away with your money - some checks and balances. Then go off and network for more clients, hang out on the beach, learn more about how this internet thing can transform your business, or just do something more high value than going to work everyday to boss over your employees.

Sometimes the fear is of the people you hire becoming "bigger" than you. Think about this: while your employees are bowing, sweating, and generally kow-towing to you, they are wasting brainpower that they could have used to make money for you. Look at Accenture, a company that lets smart people work their bums off. Whoever the owners of accenture are, are they making money or not? They are making money even though their employees have high status.

If you're paying them, you should be letting them work. Right?

3 comments:

t said...

Small business owners and managers, don't forget to take a look at the SME Toolkit

t said...

Source: New York Times, interview with Mark Pincus

"...you’ve got to find some way to keep everybody going in productive directions when you’re not in the room...

Q. So give me an example of what you did to change that.

A. I’d turn people into C.E.O.’s. One thing I did at my second company was to put white sticky sheets on the wall, and I put everyone’s name on one of the sheets, and I said, “By the end of the week, everybody needs to write what you’re C.E.O. of, and it needs to be something really meaningful.” And that way, everyone knows who’s C.E.O. of what and they know whom to ask instead of me. And it was really effective. People liked it. And there was nowhere to hide.

Q. So who were some of your new C.E.O.’s?

A. We had this really motivated, smart receptionist. She was young. We kept outgrowing our phone systems, and she kept coming back and saying, “Mark, we’ve got to buy a whole new phone system.” And I said: “I don’t want to hear about it. Just buy it. Go figure it out.” She spent a week or two meeting every vendor and figuring it out. She was so motivated by that... "

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