January 13, 2009

Are You Sharing Your Misery?

woman_frustratedTo be successful you MUST share the misery!  Yes, you heard it here folks we strongly believe in handing your problems off to everyone else.  Isn’t this the kind of advice that you have been waiting to hear?  Well it’s kinda true actually.

If you have ever worked as a small business owner you are very familiar with the fact that work never starts at 8 and ends at 5.  Owning a small business is a 24 hour comittment which means that we NEVER stop thinking about it.  Over time, this constant focus on profitability and success can take an ugly toll.

The other trait that many small business owners have is a reluctance to lean on outside help.  Afterall, your business becomes like a member of your family and who in their right mind would leave their own baby with a complete stranger?!?  Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is flawed and can lead to burnout, frustration and office rage (for example, it’s a really bad idea to whack your computer monitor. See here for more on that!)

teamwork_puzzlew300h199As a Type A personality myself, I often had a “go it alone” mentality that served me well, until graduate school.  It was in my MBA program that I finally had to come to grips with the fact that there weren’t enough hours in the day to micromanage every one and every thing.  It was a hard habit to break but in the end I learned that there are a lot of  talented people who can produce phenominal results if you trust them and more importantly empower them to do it “their” way.

Brock Blake, the CEO of Funding Universe learned this lesson at a much earlier age than I did.  Early this month he sat everyone down and challenged us to elimate costs and improve profitability.  In a matter of hours thousands of dollars were eliminated from our overhead.  New ideas and strategies were put into place and a feeling of ownership was felt up and down the hallways of our office.  Funding Universe is “my” company. No good idea is ever turned down and often, good ideas are tweaked into GREAT ideas.

Again, this leadership style comes with a severe warning.  If you give power to your employees to solve problems, you must do it with the full faith and confidence that they will come through for you.  If you give power and then pull it out from underneath them you will damage credibility forever.  Trust but verify, guide but empower.  If you view each of your employees as problem solvers versus problem causers you will find small business ownership a constant delight!

Joel Nielsen is the Director of Debt Services for Funding Universe.  He can be reached at jnielsen@fundinguniverse.com