OK, Groundhogs, we’re almost done with the uncomfortable subject of discipline… for YOU, the owner or manager! We’ve discussed the first two sub-categories of discipline: 1) The ability to execute and 2) to hold yourself accountable.
Now let’s finish up with the last characteristic in the area of Discipline- the ability to get out of our own way! We all bring a set of strengths and weaknesses to our company. Our strengths are the personal characteristics that supported us when we launched our business. (And that continue to serve us as our company hopefully grows.) Things like a) creativity—to invent a better mouse trap; b) confidence—to believe you’ll succeed; c) resilience—to come back time and time again after defeat; and d) impatience—to never “settle for less”. However…
Our weaknesses are the characteristics that undermine our ability to continue growing our company. As strange as it may sound, our weaknesses are often mutations of our strengths. For example, “excessive creativity” can become an inability to focus on a strategy long enough to see it succeed. Or over-confidence can easily become arrogance. Plus if we’re not careful our resilience can blind us to possible threats to our business. And the impatience that wouldn’t allow us settle for “good enough” can morph into unrealistic expectations.
I am not one who subscribes to the popular philosophy that we should “focus on our strengths and ignore our weaknesses.” Too often I’ve found that ignoring our weaknesses leaves us vulnerable in the long run!
Arrogance, for example, doesn’t improve with age. If I’m arrogant ignoring the fact won’t help me to attract and keep the talented people I need to grow my company. Instead recognize your weaknesses and surround yourself with people who can help you work on them. (Or at least help mitigate the damaging affect your flaws may have on your company.) The benefit to you? Doing so will allow you even more time to focus on the things you do best.
Another example of getting out of our own way has to do with the business management skills of the owner. Most small businesses outgrow their owner’s original set of skills fairly quickly. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just a reality. When this happens growth stalls and the business will remain in “stall mode” until the owner develops himself enough to restart his or her company’s growth.
Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, states of the more than 23 million businesses in North America only 4% ever exceed $1 million dollars in revenue. In other words 96% of all businesses in North America gross less than $1 million in sales. In my opinion this is not due to the company’s markets, “the economy”, or the technical competence of the owner. Rather it’s overwhelmingly due to the owner capping out their business management skills!
Now your vision may not be to grow a multi-million dollar “Critical Mass” company. But the ease with which your run your business, whether or not it is dependent on your daily presence, and even the eventual sale value of your business will be affected by your growth as a business owner. Believe it or not, your management skills (which come down to “employee skills”) are something that is in your control!
The reality is that we as business owners are constantly in a process of bottlenecking and then getting out of our own way as our business grows. The problem is that this “growth-in-fits-and-starts” is based on trial-and-error. We would do ourselves and our company a huge favor if we took the time to pro-actively discover how we “bottleneck” the growth of our company. And then would simply… GET OUT OF OUR OWN WAY!