If management is an attentive combination of Art and Science, then entrepreneurship is a watchful blend of Practical Philosophy and Advanced Mathematics. You have to have a really good, above average, understanding of those in order to be a thriving entrepreneur. Otherwise, you condemn yourself to the position of a mediocre investor who holds back the future of his venture without even realizing it.
Do entrepreneurs need managers to run their business? Absolutely yes! Do they recognize that? Most of the times not. Do they use managers to run their business? Well, they hire some, but… Do they give them the authority to do things, to take decisions, to rule the situation? It depends on the blend above…
Exceptions taken out, three distinctive cases/categories can be easily identified to roughly cover the whole picture:
Case No1: Entrepreneur runs the business himself. “I don’t see why I should pay a manager. Mine is a small business. I can run it myself. After all, my father and my grandfather did the same. The business has not grown much, but it’s pretty ok for the family income required”. So no managers are employed. This means that concrete skills are missing – even if the size is small and the activity is limited. Investing money and having a vision is not enough to grow a successful business. Plans need to be designed, executed, reviewed, altered. Decisions have to be taken based on operational capacity and long term targets. Behavior has to “smell” professionalism toward all directions. So, what happens at the end? The entrepreneur gets confused (and sometimes lost) between daily operations and long term vision, between “what” and “how”. He cannot distinguish his dreams from the crucial short term goals. He constantly struggles to play a role he’s never rehearsed. The business never grows significantly, never achieves what it could achieve if managed by a professional.
Why does the entrepreneur behave like that? Well, because he doesn’t feel as being an entrepreneur. In fact, he feels and acts like a “blessed” employee who won the lotto. He doesn’t need anyone to tell him. He knows. But the mere truth is he knows little. He knows less than he needs to become effective and efficient. Of course, it’s hard to admit that. The tough market situation, the challenging economic environment, the destructive government regulations are responsible for the (non) progress of his business. What a great excuse!
Case No2: Entrepreneur hires a manager, but he’s involved in micro-managing the business day in – day out. “You do as I say, Mr Manager. This is my business, my money, my people, my products, my customers. You are here to do as I wish. If you cannot my (family) relatives surely can (!)”. So the manager is “chained” like in jail (upward and downward). He cannot breathe, he cannot follow the path he believes appropriate for the business. He cannot apply what he knows. He cannot engage the people. He is helpless and desperate. “What do they pay me for?” he asks himself. Conflicts and quarrels with the owner take place quite often. The employees do not know which way to go. At the end, they choose the easy (=obvious) way: the boss is the owner. He will decide at the end. And the business? Well, the business reflects the managerial capability of the owner – if such quality exists at all.
Why does the entrepreneur behave like that? He doesn’t trust. He just needs someone to do the “washing up”. He can imagine no other added value coming from someone “external”. He believes he knows best. Everything. And that’s where the major discrepancy lies. He doesn’t listen, he’s not willing to learn, he keeps authority as the most valuable piece of fortune he’s got. And he feels extremely uncomfortable to let things go in another guy’s way. In fact, the entrepreneur holds himself accountable for every little decision. It’s like a never-satisfied mummy that will always amend her kid’s bed, although the kid has very explicitly been told (by her) to strew his bed every morning.
Case No3: The entrepreneur has decided to rest aside while the people he’s hired are running the business. He cares, of course. He worries. He thinks. He questions. But he stays out of everyday decisions. So he’s got time to dream further and big. He’s given the vision, he has approved the strategy, and at the same time he has facilitated the processes to run without his involvement. He stays tuned and expects results. He encourages initiatives. He embraces risks suggested by his team. (By the way, he does support teamwork!). He holds the team accountable and therefore happy and motivated. He interferes only to give the high level guidance.
Why does the entrepreneur behave like that? He trusts. He respects. He recognizes the importance of professional management. He clearly perceives the benefit for him in it. He recognizes that tasks like running a business and managing an organization need skills that other people might have at a much higher level than he does, than he will ever be able to obtain. He distinguishes the roles (manager & entrepreneur) and takes the best out of each. He practically exercises Philosophy and Maths.
And he succeeds. He checks regularly and let people do their job. His job is to ensure that the short term results go toward the direction of the big dream he envisions every night. He has built a win-win situation to grow his business, increase his profits, enhance his competitive advantage, ensure the long term sustainability of his business activity.
Despite the turbulent times we face, despite the negative economic consequences of global crisis, despite the socio/psycho “decadence” effects of it, I strongly believe that there are still lots of healthy-visionary entrepreneurs and lots of trustful-competent managers. The matching of those two can undoubtedly contribute to building a long term sustainable economic development and societal prosperity.
This is a savior two-way LEADERSHIP approach toward which we absolutely need to move fast!
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