Monthly Archives: April 2013
You know your customers. You have a killer product to sell. The business plan is set, strategy thoughtfully documented and funds are in place. You’re ready to go to market or even poised for explosive growth. But, are you surrounded by the best possible teammates to make the dream a reality?
In my 40 plus years as a successful entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist, I have learned that business owners cannot grow an enterprise singlehandedly. Michael Jordan once said “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” A championship team begins with an inspired coach who has a world class plan to be number one. To achieve his dream, he recruits, trains and motivates skilled athletes who are willing to set egos aside for the good of the team. Working in harmony with a single purpose and a dedicated effort, the coach and the players are able to achieve greatness in their sport. The same model applies to starting and growing an award winning business.
I view a business founder as a coach. A leader who knows what has to be done, when and where. Every growing company has multiple tasks that have to be performed for an enterprise to succeed and flourish. The job of the coach is to recruit and hire the right people to accomplish given assignments. From my own experiences as a serial entrepreneur and from what I have seen from other business founders I have supported financially, I have learned that exceptional organizations engage a cadre of talented business people who perfectly fit five vital areas of the organization. Today I am pleased to share with you what I feel are the most critical team members any entity must have to win in business.
It all starts with the leader. The best business coaches are servant leaders. They recognize their businesses will soar if they hire great people and let them “own” their assignments. In this light, the business founder is there to support the employee’s efforts with needed resources, guiding principles and agreed upon priorities. He or she encourages, motivates, rewards and provides feedback on job performance. He corrects with kindness and celebrates achievement. This leader knows if he takes care of his employees, they will provide superior service to customers, who will, in turn, continue to buy and tell their friends to do the same. He is forgiving of mistakes. He lets people learn and grow. He provides a culture of integrity, honor, self reliance, innovation and camaraderie. They daily play their best game. Their output is superior to the competition. They are happy people and look forward to work every day. In fact, the leader is loved by his employees and they will do any for him or her.
Great business leaders succeed because they hire people who know the industry, the trends, the competitors, the market place, the customers, the products they sell, the vendors and investors. They surround themselves with workers, managers and other leaders who have years of experience. They bring vital information and deep knowledge to their assignments and are willing to share what they know with the business founder, peers and subordinates. These expert employees mentor others who are learning the business. They are vigilant and continue to watch and learn. They provide guidance and wisdom on what works and what does not work in the organization; the results -mistakes are few, productivity is high. I speak from experience on this important topic. I have scars on my back from numerous failed start ups because I hired a team of inexperienced and unseasoned workers who had little knowledge and therefore couldn’t perform.
The financial guru.
Successful businesses all have an experienced and talented financial officer. The importance of this critical leader can’t be overstated. No company can survive or prosper without a person who understands accounting, finance, strategy and cash flow management. There must be someone in the organization that can be trusted with the funds that are received and dispersed by the company. He or she who owns this key responsibility must know at every minute the health of the company; the availability of cash should be top of mind. I have learned that regular meetings between the financial guru, peers and the founder are critical to staying afloat. All leaders and managers need to know where the company is financially and what must be done to sustain viability. Again, from personal experience, I have watched many companies go out of business because leaders failed to put a competent financial player on their team. Most planned to do it, but did so too late.
Having a strategist on the team is another critical element that ensures prosperity. Why? Most entrepreneurs are busy taking care of day to day business. They have their heads down making sure the company is making money and that the right products are being made and that employees and customers are happy. They don’t notice the world is changing. They lack intelligence on emerging industry trends, changes in customer behavior, new competitors and disruptive product innovations. They are buried with huge tasks and pressing deadlines. They don’t have time to lift their eyes to the horizon and learn what tomorrow will bring. I know this life style. I have been there many times. I never had time to put my put my feet up on the desk and gaze into space and see the future. Yet, the future is heading directly at business founders at high speed. To maintain and grow, someone in the organization should be assigned to carry the crystal ball and report on what he or she sees. Yes, growing companies’ need a visionary to research, comprehend and report on opportunities and challenges down the road. Failing to have this key leader on the team will be catastrophic to the company. No owner wants to wake up one morning to learn they are now headed to the cemetery of expired businesses. Having learned this lesson more than once, I now have a strategist on my team that guides our enterprise into the future.
Every great company has a leader that owns the responsibility to execute or implement company plans. These assignments may encompass research, inventory management, manufacturing, distribution, human resources, IT, and marketing and sales. In many businesses, the person who oversees these critical tasks bares the title of chief operating officer. To carry out these responsibilities, he or she will hire an expert staff of employees with specific duties that must be accomplished for the enterprise to flourish. These workers are the heart of the organization and deliver what customers want and buy. Companies that fail don’t have this key person on the team. Those firms that do, have found and hired a highly talented executive who know what needs to be done, when and how.
In conclusion, as an owner, shareholder or board director, does your organization have these five critical executives? Are they performing as expected or do they need to be hired, developed or replaced? I would appreciate hearing from you about your organization and its leadership. I can be reached at @AskAlanEHall or via my personal website, http://www.AlanEHall.com.
The numbers are in and last week’s performance set a new company record! Great job team.
Also, the team’s reaction to our new remodeling was priceless!
Founded in April of 2012, Empire is based out of Lombard, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Since, Empire has grown in response to its clients demands for an increase in market share using Empire’s personal, “results driven” marketing techniques. Empire provides client acquisition and retention support to national clients through marketing/sales management and campaign support.
Empire’s main client is a retail division of the leading wholesale energy marketer and energy service provider. They focus on the physical natural gas, electricity, coal and crude markets operating across North America. The client provides competitive electricity and gas supply to retail residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The client offers several plans to fit each customer’s needs. At Empire, representatives work closely with client account holders to the best solution to their business and consumer needs.
Since opening, members of Empire have been taking part in charity events both locally and nationally. President of Empire, Mark Chern, explains, “While hitting our goals with our clients is our first priority, I wanted to make sure the company was making an impact on the community as well. I want to make sure we take time to give back and continue to do so as we grow.”
Operation Smile is a children’s medical charity with presence in over 60 countries. Founded in 1982, the charity is comprised of medical professionals and volunteers devoted to providing free reconstructive surgeries and related medical care for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Operation Smile has provided more than 3.5 million patient evaluations and over 200,000 surgeries.
The Operation Smile charity night was held at Empire’s head office. Participants donated a $20 entry fee for a night of games including cards, RockBand, bags and more. This event was one of many Empire charity events organized to raise money for Operation Smile.
In addition to continually helping raise money for Operation Smile, Empire has participated in several other charity events helping to raise money and awareness for such groups as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Feed The Hungry Foundation, and St. Baldricks Foundation. Empire expects to double in size by the end of the year and according to Chern, the company will continue its philanthropic efforts for years to come.