with Aliza Sherman
If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.
To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.
That said, I still believe I’ve got a killer idea that I could ramp up quickly and sell, but I was thinking that I had to have a company to make that happen. Now I’m not so sure I need one.
In one of my previous posts, I blogged about two opportunities I have to get me out of my rut, to shake off the business blues, and to move forward. One is an online process and forum where I’ll be guided to better articulate my business idea. The other is working with a friend on an entirely different level, another plane if you will, and get her input about the direction I’m going.
In my most recent brainstorming session with her, I expressed my frustration. There was some kind of barrier in my brain that I couldn’t seem to dismantle. Through the course of the conversation, she nailed what has been bugging me all these months.
“Tell me why you don’t like having a company,” she asked me. There it was. And she was absolutely right. I hate having a company.
As we continued brainstorming, it dawned on me that even thinking about having a company creates what I called “bricks and mortar thinking.” I’m more comfortable in something more fluid, more flexible. My brain works best without boundaries and borders. Trying to structure my idea into a company is like building walls around my creativity. It kills my spirit.
Here are eight things I hate about having a company:
1. Clock punching. I don’t like being tied to what I consider an arbitrary, outdated construct of time. My own body clock and the ebbs and flows of my creativity and productivity don’t correspond with specific time constraints. I can be more productive in an hour than others are in a day. Having to account for every hour of my time during a prescribed work day drives me crazy. If possible, work based on milestones and deliverables versus exact number of hours worked. If people turn in great work on time every step of the way, does it really matter that they put in exactly 8.5 hours?
2. Structure. There is something to be said about structure and having a specific framework to work within, especially the more people working in a company. But sometimes structure can turn into that box that many people who talk about breaking out of when you’re stuck in a rut. We tend to overstructure things to control them or feel we have control. I don’t mind a sense of order (although I can thrive in chaos), but not when it boxes me in. Set up structure as a framework, not a box. Be open to change, expansion and restructuring.
3. Rigid process. I’m all for creating systems and processes to be more efficient, but when the process takes over the thinking, squeezes out room for creativity, doesn’t let one improve something but rather simply “master the process,” we move from innovation to factory line. Let others bring their expertise to the table to co-create processes because often those “in the trenches” have far more insight as to what works and what doesn’t than those at the helm.
4. Being responsible for others. This is a scary thing for me. I sometimes feel I can barely take care of myself much less employees. I end up in a panic that my actions - or inactions - have such a major impact on the livelihood of others. Now that I have a child, that takes all my “taking care of someone else” powers, and I feel like I have nothing left to give. Make sure that the life of the company isn’t tied to a single person - including you.
5. Managing others. I suck managing other people. I like working with others and especially like it when they get things done on their own. If they do it “right,” bonus. But I struggle with communicating what is in my head so others can do what in the past I’d do. Maybe it is delegation that I hate. And the managing that comes after delegating. If you’re not a good manager and are thrust into that role, seek out training on interpersonal communications and other management skills. Yes, you can learn to manage well even if you don’t love doing it.
6. Limitations. I don’t like to be held back. If I have an idea that could be a new revenue stream for the company, I want to be able to explore it. I understand the value of being focused, but I hate wearing blinders and not paying attention to - and responding to strategically - the changing business landscape. Try not to squelch innovation or actually encourage it with monthly brainstorming meetings where the goal is identifying new business opportunities or better ways to do what you’re doing.
7. Entrenchment. I find that as a company grows, roles become so ingrained that suddenly someone who did one thing before can no longer do that because someone else does it now. I’ve always missed the work I originally did when I started a company and tend to be thrust into positions where I don’t excel. Maybe that’s the nature of the beast, but it feels defeating. Let people work to their strengths and hire people based on the strengths your team is missing rather than pigeonholing people into positions with unchangeable job descriptions.
8. Caution. I’m all for being conservative with company finances, but I’m comfortable taking risks and making changes, and in fast-changing industries, being nimble is key. Maybe this is just fine for a “visionary” role but probably not advisable for the one keeping an eye on the bottom line. If you’re a risk taker, partner with someone who is more grounded and cautious to balance you out. Yes, it may create some conflicts, but always work to find a middle ground or taking turns “giving in.”
Can a company maintain it’s spirit of innovation and flexibility as it grows? At certain points, somethings got to give. And yet I look at a company like Zappos and realize that a big company can also be an awesome company that creates space for human beings to be creative and be the best they can be without stuffing them into boxes with corporate crowbars.
How do you feel about having a company?
Subscribe to blog via RSS