Business management challenges haunt the average manager in most businesses every day. Goals get blurred. Motivation sinks. The mission fades into the background. Innovation withers. Time management becomes nonsense.
This is the time when both manager and business owner develop a roving eye or rather a longing for a better way. This challenge is beyond change management, mentoring, globalisation or marketing strategy! It’s the call for a paradigm shift.
Let me tell you my story and a possible antidote called “Entrepreneurial Management”!
During the past 20 years I have been a personal advisor and mentor for several thousand business owners and entrepreneurs. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have been my playground!
I have spent thousands of hours looking into the eyes of these entrepreneurs, listening to their stories and questioning their motives and actions. Business planning was on the agenda every day.
While consulting and mentoring with them about their goals, mission and business plan, I found that 80% of the most successful owners and entrepreneurs had uncanny similarities in their storylines.
At first, they gave me a rag-bag of information which had no particular common elements that I could detect.
I saw specific patterns of behaviour, mindsets and styles in each of them. As this common feature became more apparent, I became more obsessed with unlocking the ‘secret’ of entrepreneurial success.
Over the same period, I was involved with numerous management and organisational development projects with thousands of professional managers and corporate leaders who head up corporate teams and lead businesses.
I discovered that some believe that management is something you were born with’, others believe that it is something you do to other people. Motivational issues were always on the table.
The majority try, often unsuccessfully, to practice management as a science and a skill.
The elite few know that professional management is a mix of innate abilities, acquired competencies, and a mature mental mindset.
Facing each other across a room the entrepreneur and the professional manager play an ‘if only’ game.
The professional managers say: ‘If only I could shake off the shackles of the bureaucratic set-up, I would reach my enormous potential with relative ease. I want to take risks, and have a go, but I am so restrained by the system that I am now in’.
The entrepreneur says: ‘If only I had the skills of the professional manager, I would plan, organise, lead and control my business activities with more discipline and effectiveness, through a more streamlined management structure’.
I believe that half of the world’s professional managers and executives would like to be entrepreneurs. I believe that half of all business owners and entrepreneurs wish they could steal some of the professionalism and business management skills and competencies of real managers.
My contention is that the entrepreneur and the professional manager have a lot to learn from each other.
From working with both sides of this equation, I believe there is a big need for a fresh approach, which I call entrepreneurial management.
Let me give you an example:
John Smith is the 38 year old CEO of North Midland Construction Company, which employs more than 550 people. He is an ENTREPRENEURIAL MANAGER. His business has grown from being a small family enterprise quadrupling in size over the last five years to being a major player in the construction industry.
The challenges he faces in growing and managing his business have changed from operational issues, like where to get business for the next quarter, to issues of managing change, strategic development and building a strong management team.
John says; My biggest mistake over the last number of years has been not getting key people on board, early enough. You must think about the monster you are about to create long before it arrives, otherwise you end up grappling with it. You can buy a machine and have it working within 12 hours. A key executive, however, takes a minimum of six to 12 months. This time lag must be controlled. It’s strategic thinking and planning in action.Ð‚Ñœ
He believes that business is all about developing people who can bring the business forward. Building a quality reputation, managing resources and building structures all give an essential confidence to the leader himself and everyone in the business’.
His advice to any business owner thinking about rapidly expanding their business is threefold.
1. Plan for the growth. Decide the level of the growth and the ripple effects on every other aspect of the business (resources, structure, communications, systems etc).
2. Then believe in yourself and just go for it.
3. Get the right people around you. Then build their competencies.
Different belief systems and different motivations are at play here
My own belief is that the entrepreneur has a different belief system than the professional manager.
The manager’s need for stability, structure and safety is the antithesis of everything the entrepreneur believes in. They become conditioned to certain ways of doing things.
Professional managers have a twin challenge; one is to break out of their own mental comfort zones and a second is to deal with their own organisation’s stranglehold.
In contrast, the pure entrepreneur has more mental freedom and is not as hemmed in by organisational constraints.
Few people understand what motivates the entrepreneur. Many believe that entrepreneurs are driven solely by money, by greed, or by self-promotion. They do not comprehend that entrepreneurs have a kind of spiritual loneliness in their focused pursuit of their life’s passion.
Initially the motive is bread-and-butter’, says John Smith, but then it becomes like a self-esteem issue because your business is an extension of your own personality. As you are making it happen you get totally locked-in to it and therefore by implication you have to lock out other things sometimes the important things like family, which is wrong.
John Smith is motivated by seeing other people grow and succeed and seeing good people taking more responsibility and growing personally and professionally. He gets a great sense of achievement from doing a good job well and for having a reputation for reliability and quality.
He also has an exit strategy for himself which gives him a goal and a sense of freedom and the possibility of a more fulfilled existence doing other things. He reckons this will take a minimum of five years.
The entrepreneur has been given a dictionary definition of :
one who organises and directs a business undertaking, assuming the risk for the sake of the profit.Ð‚Ñœ
These elements of personal risk and the profit motive differentiate entrepreneurs from the corporate professional managers and executives who perform their duties in return for a salary.
Because of this difference, it is not surprising that for generations entrepreneurs and professional managers have approached their work with different mindsets. Such different approaches were acceptable in the past.
Today, certainty is replaced by choice. Choice is scary. Change is scary.
If we combine the original, raw entrepreneurial spirit with solid and structured management skills, we achieve a new synergy, which I call Entrepreneurial Management.
This new dynamic is critical to handling choice and change and creating personal and business advantage.
Professional managers and entrepreneurs face conflicting demands and expectation, constrains and opportunities. 21st Century Management will be full of paradoxes which will be directly related to professional management and the entrepreneurial movement.
Entrepreneurs are in more demand than ever and we seem to be entering a new era in which most members of the labor force will be offered some form of self-employment during their career. The evidence of this move to self-employment is everywhere. It is evidenced in contracting, outsourcing, value-adding partnership, tele-cottaging and small-office-home-office (SOHO) entrepreneurs.
Management and work performance competencies are being measured as never before.
Different formulas of employeeship are replacing the traditional job-for-life.
The business world needs a fresh approach and I believe that a combination of the entrepreneurial spirit and professional management competencies present such an approach.
If your business is struggling, perhaps it’s because you’re using old tools. Perhaps it’s time for you to rethink and restructure how you do things?
Entrepreneurial Management is a mix of the disciplines that professional management and the entrepreneurial spirit the ultimate objective of which is to create sustainable business growth and advantage.