1 September 2009

Entrepreneurs and business people. Being a business man or woman is not clever. It doesn’t make you any more special or less special. Yes you can get a great feeling of connection from some of the things success can help you achieve, yet these are no more important than those of doctors, teachers, nurses etc.

Yet there are those amongst us who feel the need to talk about their goals. What they are going to achieve and what they nearly did. I am talking of the ones that you have a sneaking suspicion are “all talk.” Yet, they keep talking and that is all they seem to do.

And on the journey because of their gregarious nature and confidence they have a tendency to land great jobs and rise through the food chain. Yet they never take the plunge themselves.

I know a few people who fall into this category. I dont need to name them as my aim is not to embarrass them. It is something that intrigues me however.

One person in particular on the out side, has all the skills necessary to run a business, yet for some strange reason cannot take the plunge. Even when offered all the cash necessary to set up a business in a sector where they previously have a very successful record, this person chose the easy option. A slightly higher salary and share options (Fake shares as I call them!) over a slightly lower basic, true  50% ownership and zero cash investment from themselves.

Why does some one take what at first seems the easy path, yet it is a path they have trodden before only to find it leads to redundancy and ends in tears. Once the business is established you are a very expensive luxury and extremely expendable.

After selling my first business to Granada TV once I had integrated the 2 businesses and I had trained all the staff I was no longer needed. I was quickly squeezed out. It was a lesson that meant I could never work for another organisation again.

So why do they never take the plunge. Personally I believe it is because they are not true level 5 leaders. What is a level 5 leader? It is a person who shows the correct set of skills and characteristics to lead a business of any type through all seasons.

Yet a level 5 leader is not the sort of person that traditionally gets the job of the MD or other directorships in the UK and US. We seem to employ the loudest, most confident, best communicators, yet ironically these are never the best choice. Yet they rise to the top becasue they are more pushy than their fellow colleagues.

Often these sort of people want to take the credit for all the good that happens, yet when there is a problem, they are quick to point the finger and blame anyone but themselves. A level 5 leader is more likely to apportion luck to their success and be relatively shy when it comes to public speaking or taking the credit.

I suppose it is also about  what makes people tick. Their “significance” as Tony Robbins puts it. The person I am referring to in this article is very happy to have the lifestyle, the clothes, watches all the trappings of a senior director, yet does not want the responsibility or real control of the whole business.

So if you are put off by becoming a businessman or woman because you are not as confident as others, this is not a bad thing. In fact you are in good company.

A great friend of mine, Dan Innes has finally set up and gone it alone after a decade of growing someone else’s business in London. His new business Innesco is already super successful as he has a long client list of those strong relationships he has spent years developing. Dan merely needed the confidence to make that final push.

I gave up ranting and pushing him, knowing he needed to find his own feet in his own time. Last year at his wedding in Bath I said to my wife, “there you go, he will be self employed with in a year from now.”

A great man like Dan simply needed a great woman at his side. When you have someone you love to this extent, being in business suddenly becomes easier. You have someone to work for, someone to build a future for.

If you are not destined for the madness of entrepreneurship however, do not let this stress you out. I do not think any the less of my friend who prefers to work for other people than himself. Definitely not. When the businessman sits at home worrying about the bank, the tax or the detail, the managing director or senior manager is still able to switch off!

One thing I can say though, for Dan embarking on this new journey, “It is a lot like the day when you set off and rowed across the atlantic. You had a goal and a purpose. To that end, you achieved what you set out to achieve. The same applies in business. Set your goals out clearly and stick to them. Revisit them regularly, take nothing for granted. Have fun on your journey and good luck to you sir.”

If you are considering being in business and going it alone, take a pen and paper. Draw a line down the centre. On one side write down all the reasons why you want to be in business, and on the other the reasons why you have not done so yet.

If you find yourself procrastinating  and looking for reasons not to, seek help, but never give up. It’s easy.

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