WHAT YOU FEEL: no one that you work with – employees, consultants, vendors, family, friends – seems to live up to your standards
PERSPECTIVE: I recently had an entrepreneur tell me “no one can perform up to my standards.” I asked her “what about Steve Jobs or Arianna Huffington or Martin Luther King, or Donna Karan or Jack Welsh?” Would they be OK? I was trying to prove a point but I have no doubt I said the same thing when I started my company.
Entrepreneurs need to understand this feeling, why they feel it, how to manage it and the consequences. It makes a lot of sense. At early stages, you don’t have the financial or human resources to put in place normal relationships. This applies to many constituents such as employees, vendors, advisors, board members and consultants. Employees, for example, are often working for below-market compensation packages, for equity or even working for free on the side of their current jobs. Vendors are rarely paid full freight and are often asked to make financial concessions for the promise of working with the company in the future. Advisors often help the company without compensation and for the potential of the future. Same for board members. Even individuals that help with raising capital, especially at early stages, are not paid normal compensation.
Not only are many constituents underpaid (or unpaid), but you also don’t have the resources to manage them effectively. Combine this with a few other realities. First, no one cares as much about the business as you do. Second, no one has spent as much time thinking about it as you do. Third, these people have lives in which they laugh, relax, sleep, drink for fun (and not for serenity) and even take things lightly. Finally, what you spend all day thinking about is a blip on their screen. With the exception of full time employees, these resources dip in and out of your world. When a member of your advisory board wakes up in the middle of the night (like you do), he likely did so because he was worried about his sick daughter or his new boss or his mortgage bill or his golf game. Think of it like a pie. Your pie is 99. 999% your business. Their pie is life, love, family, business, sports, travel and the rest of their normal lives.
As entrepreneurs, we lose perspective all the time. The common denominator in these issues is you. You fail to recognize that given below market compensation and the other factors noted above, these resources will not be effective and valuable unless you manage them.
The failure to recognize the nature of your relationships with these resources and their level of commitment will lead them to underperform in your eyes. You will get frustrated that people won’t read voluminous materials and don’t spend every waking moment living your perspective. The sooner you realize this, and understand that it is your responsibility to manage these resources by aligning their skills and time commitment with actions that serve the business, the sooner you will no longer think that everyone sucks.
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