Avoid Entrepreneurial Sticker Shock

Jim Blasingame

One of the markers of American culture is the "sticker" glued on the window of a new car. This document helps the shopper by listing the standard equipment and options on each vehicle, plus of course, the manufacturer's suggested retail price, or MSRP.

But what if you're shopping for an entrepreneur? This may sound silly, but prospective employees do it all the time. So, what would be on that sticker?

We're not interested in the MSRP because, as MasterCard might say, we're priceless. What we're looking for is the list of standard equipment.

Naturally, this list would include things like courage, creativity, perseverance, determination and motivation. But one feature that is typically not found on the list of standard equipment for most entrepreneurs is patience.

Entrepreneurs have many redeeming characteristics, but patience is rarely one of them. And our only redemption is that we're more intensely impatient with ourselves than anyone or anything else.

The reason for this self-directed impatience is because seeking excellence requires that we demand much of ourselves. Unfortunately, in our quest we can also be too impatient with those on whom we most depend -- our key employees.

And while impatience with ourselves can be constructive, it has the potential to produce adverse results when directed at our people.

But when you think about it, impatience with key personnel is actually pretty understandable: They show up every day, just like us; they work hard, just like us; and they're dedicated, just like us. Certainly such evidence of commitment creates the impression that they are -- just like us.

And for many key employees it's not just an impression. They are committed or they would work somewhere else. The problem occurs when we're impatient with our people because they didn't read our minds.

The road to business failure is paved with the stories of key people who left because someone mistook commitment for ESP. And any employer lacking this understanding will have key employees wishing they had traded up when they first checked out the sticker on their entrepreneur.

So how do entrepreneurs avoid destructive impatience? Communication. We must communicate our plan, strategy, and vision to our employees. We can't demand as much of our staff as we do of ourselves if they don't have access to the same information as we do.

In 1776, General George Washington said, "We must make the best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish."

Effective communication skills will eliminate the need to find employees who are mind readers. Plus it will make employees more productive, since they won't have to spend so much time trying to make the best of us.

Write this on a rock... Patience may not be standard equipment on an entrepreneur, but effective communication practices should be.

Jim Blasingame
Small Business Expert and host of The Small Business Advocate Show
©2008 All Rights Reserved

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