Last week, I had a brief conversation that helps illustrate why I teach. The dialogue was fairly simple Read more
Archive for April, 2012
Most leaders I know love to lead. But as we all know, love can be blinding. The instinct and passion to lead can obscure what is sometimes necessary: a need to get out of the way.
Have you ever observed a leader trying hard to make something happen? He has a vision, charts the course, articulates his goals, inspires his people, and provides the necessary tools and resources. Then he does everything in his power to bring that vision to life but for some reason, it doesn’t happen.
Sometimes, he just needs to get out of the way but he doesn’t know it. And even if others do, no one tells him. After all, unless you have the power to fire him, how do you tell a leader to get out of the way?
Wall Street, of course, has always sought profits — but if greed were to be countenanced, it should be long-term greed, not short-term greed, in the words of Gus Levy, who led Goldman Sachs in the 1960s and ’70s. With long-term greed, money was made with clients, not from them. Read more
Last week it was announced that Linda Darragh, Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the Polsky Center at Chicago Booth, was recruited away by Northwestern’s Kellogg School to run its entrepreneurship centers. Read more
There’s a group of entrepreneurs that fascinates me. They don’t show up at the startup gatherings which attract many of their peers. They don’t get mentioned by the press a whole lot, either locally or nationally. And if you talk about them with people in the community, you tend to get a response of “Who are they?”
They’re the ones who realize that all startups compete on a level playing field because they share one common asset – time. The difference is how they use it. They believe in working hard and working smart.
These entrepreneurs believe they can create more value for their companies by working, not going to events. They realize that there’s never enough time to get their work done and events don’t help check things off their to-do lists.
So if it comes to networking, rather than wanting to meet people, they want to build relationships. They eschew large “shotgun” gatherings in favor of targeted, one-on-one meetings through which they can build trust, confidence, and loyalty over time.
These entrepreneurs believe that the time required to raise capital early on, described by many as a “second full-time job”, just isn’t worth it. Instead, they’d rather build value and cash flow the old-fashioned way – revenues – and worry about capital when they need to grow, scale, or otherwise use money to achieve something faster than time can.
They use friends and family to pitch in whenever possible, find web-based tools to automate processes, and leverage off-shoring not just to save money but to create time. They can’t stand doing payroll, managing the books, posting to social media, or filling out annual reports for the state.
These entrepreneurs value the experiences of peers over the expertise of service providers, saving both time and money. It’s far more efficient to reach out to a few fellow entrepreneurs to learn how and why they did something (and what happened) than to go through the process of finding, vetting, and selecting a so-called expert.
We like to say that, in order to build something valuable, entrepreneurs must focus, focus, focus. I’ve always wondered why that’s so much easier said than done but perhaps these entrepreneurs hold the key.
Perhaps the key to unlocking the door to focus – and value creation – is by simply getting rid of the friction in a startup.