Building an Iconic Entrepreneurial Culture

We entrepreneurs live in a time where differentiation can be the determining factor between success and failure. As such, we are constantly looking for that silver bullet that elevates our product or service above the competition. Yet in our quest for this elusive competitive edge, we encounter a myriad of challenges involving everything under the sun. Often we have people issues – we struggle to find and retain qualified talent, or there may be low performance. Perhaps we endure periods where it just doesn’t seem that we can do anything right for our customers. Bottom line – entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart.

There is a differentiating factor that offers a nearly 100% guarantee for success – but is frequently overlooked by entrepreneurs. This differentiator is an iconic entrepreneurial culture. Well duh, you may be thinking. How could this possibly be overlooked? The reason is the fact that it takes a long time to build an iconic entrepreneurial culture. And we live in a society of instant gratification. The key is to start right now with this process. By taking positive steps every single day, we eventually will realize this objective.

So exactly what does an iconic entrepreneurial culture look like? It starts with a clear vision for the enterprise. Where are we going and what does it look like when we get there? This vision should be inspirational and easy to communicate. Then we must get the right people on the bus. We recruit and hire folks that share our dream and are committed to taking the necessary steps to achieve it. This is where many attempts to build a culture fall flat. We’re in a tight economy and acquiring talent is extremely difficult. Settling for a warm body (because we’re desperate) may actually be detrimental to the culture we are building.

Our team members need well-defined written roles and accountabilities. Without them, chaos ensues and many things fall between the cracks. Team members also need the proper training as well as the resources necessary to accomplish that for which they are responsible. I’ve written many times about our Why – that is, why we do what we do. Simon Sinek has identified the nine Whys – one of which makes each of us tick. When we can match the roles and accountabilities of our team members with their respective Whys, we’re well on our way to keeping them challenged and engaged. Team members want to feel valued and appreciated, so we do this in a genuine and authentic manner whenever possible. We express gratitude for the contributions made by our team and we recognize individuals for their achievements.

Incentive compensation tied to performance can be a strong motivator. Of equal importance is ensuring that each team member understands the importance of his role in the overall march toward reaching the vision. And team members need to be shown a path for their growth. This may involve opportunities for education, mentorship and career advancement.

Developing core values for the organization is another crucial stepping stone along the cultural path. Once established, advocate them and live them every single day. It goes without saying that core values are meaningless unless leaders model them consistently. In our company, we’ve heard from many new hires that the reason they joined was because it was obvious that we actually put our core values into practice.

An iconic entrepreneurial culture nurtures an environment of collaboration. Leaders work to obtain buy-in for decisions involving the team. It’s an environment that encourages experimentation and creativity. We promote the notion of a “laboratory mindset” for mistakes. In other words, when mistakes occur they are analyzed for what can be learned as opposed to being used as a reason to criticize and bludgeon.

An iconic entrepreneurial culture is positive and optimistic. Fear is eliminated and conflict is handled in an open and forthright manner. Team members are honest with each other and avoid triangulation. They celebrate together and cry together. Systems and processes support strategic thinking – but avoid becoming bureaucratic. Staying nimble is the eternal mantra. Finally, the entire team subscribes to a customer-centric ideology that worships at the altar of the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Creating an iconic entrepreneurial culture is difficult and time consuming . . . but it is possible. And once it has been achieved, it becomes one of the most powerful differentiators there is.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 101 – A Tip From Warren Buffet.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Stress and the Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship can be a very stressful proposition. We’re trying to build our businesses and encounter countless challenges along the way. Cutthroat competition, product design issues, labor shortages, cash flow problems, slow sales, shipping snafus, government regulations, incredibly tight deadlines, lack of sleep and a host of other struggles. A lot of this is simply unavoidable and part of the growth and scaling process. How we deal with stress under duress is the name of the game.

Here are several questions we can ask ourselves. Is stress negative and draining? Do we view stress with fear and trepidation? Is stress something that we must survive? Or do we embrace stress and use it to “lean in” and thrive? You may think that thriving in stress is counterintuitive. But it is not.

It’s a fact that there are many opportunities for situations to become stressful. However, just because a situation is stressful doesn’t mean that we have to buy-in and take on the stress for ourselves. I know – this is certainly easier said than done. We start by observing how we normally react when confronted with potentially stressful circumstances. Some people withdraw and climb into a shell. Others might be combative and hypersensitive. Still others may wear their heart on their sleeve and present a woe-is-me portrait. Finally, there are those who may show panic and confusion. As entrepreneurial leaders we cannot afford to display any of these tendencies.

How we react outwardly is important to our team. If we are snippy and curt with the people around us, they will sense that something is wrong. If we show fear they will smell fear and know that something is wrong. By maintaining an optimistic and cheery demeanor at all times, we can ensure the mental health of our enterprise. I realize that this is pretty hard to do if we really aren’t feeling all that confident in the situation. It’s very difficult to fake it successfully. What to do?

On April 17, 2018, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 bound from New York to Dallas suffered a massive engine failure that resulted in the loss of cabin pressure and the life of a passenger. Captain Tammie Jo Shults and First Officer Darren Ellisor remained calm under fire and safely landed the aircraft. They didn’t panic and followed their training to the letter. Once back on terra firma, Captain Shults personally spoke to each passenger as they deplaned. What was their secret? They eliminated the emotion and worked the problem.

When we’re overwhelmed, stress can build exponentially. This is the time to heed the old saying – eat the elephant one bite at a time. We break down whatever massive undertaking that is causing the stress into manageable tasks. I am a compulsive list-maker. When a mountain looms in front of me I try and avoid looking at it in its totality. Instead, I develop a series of individual tasks and check them off my list as I finish them. I know this may sound like a mental game but it works for me and it might work for you too.

The next idea may seem like a bit of a stretch, but actually can achieve the concept of leaning in and thriving. When faced with a sticky situation we look for the silver lining and ask the question, “How can I turn this into something positive?” Accomplishing this takes a lot of practice. It involves rising above the chaos and stress to take a clinical look at the landscape and find a way to succeed. I remember talking to a friend who had a major client that was terminating the relationship. Many entrepreneurs would have wrung their hands in despair. My friend immediately reached out to the primary competitor of the departing client and told him that he was now available to work with the competitor. This new relationship was worth twice the amount of business for my friend than before.

There are many other stress-busting techniques – and there may be times when we need to utilize all of them at our disposal. We should make certain we don’t become one-dimensional. Having other interests besides work provides outlets for our stress and frustration. This may include physical activities, hobbies, civic or charitable work to name a few. Meditation and deep-breathing exercises are excellent ways to remain centered and relaxed. It’s important to practice them continuously and not just when we are in distress. Finally, I’m a big proponent of creating and saying positive affirmations. Positive affirmations pattern our minds away from negativity and fear. For example, saying something like, “I am totally relaxed and ready to claim my good!” may be a great way to start. I know it may sound corny, but I’m living proof that it works. Saying a positive affirmation in groups of ten at least 100 times a day will lay the foundation. Doing it for a week or two adds the cement.

We all have moments where stress can build to overwhelming levels. But it doesn’t have to be debilitating if we choose to embrace it; lean into it, and thrive.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 100 – Congratulations – You Own a Gold Mine!

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

The Macho Entrepreneur

Just about everyone has heard the 1978 song called “Macho Man” by the Village People. The first verse goes like this:

“Every man wants to be macho macho man. To have the kind of body, always in demand. Jogging in the mornings, go man go. Work outs in the health spa, muscles glow. You can best believe that, he’s a macho man. Ready to get down with, anyone he can.” Ugghh. I never did like that song. Usually this term refers to the male species and generally speaks to “showing aggressive pride in one’s masculinity,” according to one dictionary. The word is often associated with “machismo” which introduces the concept of self-reliance. I’m going to take some liberties here and loosely use the term as it relates to entrepreneurs – male and female.

Allow me to paint a picture of the Macho Entrepreneur. This individual is scrappy and passionate about his or her endeavors. The Macho Entrepreneur is driven to excel – a real Type A personality. Hard-charging and brimming over with ideas, this person sometimes has a mindset of “if you want it done right, you must do it yourself!” The Macho Entrepreneur is not going to let anything stand in his or her way to achieving success and will always “die trying.” Do you know anyone who displays these traits and tendencies? This used to be my self-portrait though I think I’m in more of a “recovery” mode at present.

The Macho Entrepreneur means no harm and thinks he or she is being noble by modeling strong-willed behavior and commitment. But there are inherent pitfalls in this approach that don’t promote the notion of building a team and ultimately a sustainable organization. When I was much more inclined in the macho mode, I received feedback that some people felt it was my way or the highway. In reality, I have a high level of ego-drive which when translated, means that I want to persuade anyone and everyone to see things my way. And my enthusiasm could sometimes come across to others like a steamroller. I was somewhat of a perfectionist – even when it made no sense to be so – which is a result of some obsessive-compulsive tendencies on my part. Finally, I’ve always been inclined to keep calm and “never let ‘em see you sweat.”

Here’s what I’ve learned. Being a Macho Entrepreneur is a dead-end. Well, maybe it’s more of a cul-de-sac because one can turn around and exit the behavior and take a new path. Regardless, the macho traits really don’t lead to building a successful organization. Trust me on this because I’ve lived through it all from start to finish. So, what’s the alternative?

I’ve said it many times – we must have the right people on the bus. These are people who share our values and have passion for what they do. This is critical because they will be motivated only if they understand our vision of the future and how they fit into the process of getting there. When we know we are surrounded by the right people we are more inclined to delegate. We don’t have to do it all ourselves. And we understand that while others may do some things differently than we might have, empowering them is even more important. As long as the ultimate objective is achieved in an efficient manner with integrity, we agree that allowing some latitude is a healthy thing. This gets us to the point of allowing others to make decisions. I once heard an entrepreneur say that he only wanted to make four decisions a year – four major decisions! This forced him to delegate decision-making and truly trust his team.

Discarding the Macho Entrepreneur label also means collaborating with others. This sends the signal that their opinions are valued and desired. And believe it or not, many members of our respective teams actually have some pretty good ideas! What comes next? We get to celebrate the success of others which reinforces the notion that they are capable of making decisions and moving the organization forward. Finally, we learn how to be a coach rather than command. No longer is coercion a necessity or an option (it probably never was). We help our team members look at the different possibilities and work through a process of determining the right approach to achieve the desired outcome.

Our lives and our organizations will be richer and more rewarding when we figure out how to transform away from being the Macho Entrepreneur. We accomplish this by surrounding ourselves with the right people who understand and share our vision; to whom we can delegate decision making and promote collaboration, and who we can coach and ultimately celebrate their victories.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 99 – Narrow Guardrails.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

The Entrepreneurial 2×4

Building a successful business requires human interaction at many levels. We’ve all seen the stereotypical entrepreneur who is moving fast and speaks in a short-clipped manner. He (or she) is the picture of efficiency and wastes little time in getting down to brass tacks. Sometimes this entrepreneur can be seen as brash and even a little bit arrogant. He (or she) often wears this description as a badge of honor. This might be a typical conversation with a member of the team. “Matthew, this is not your best work. It’s sloppy and totally misses the mark. You can and must do better. I’m very disappointed in you.” The entrepreneur might see this as brutal honesty. But is it productive?

Carol Burnett talks about her storied career in show business. She reminisces, “Back in the day, the men – Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar and Milton Berle – if they said: ‘Hey guys, this sketch sucks. Get with it! What’s the matter with you?” they were fine because they were guys. But if a woman did it, she would be labeled a bitch. So I tap-danced around it a lot.” Burnett went on to say, “If a sketch wasn’t working, I’d call the writers down to rehearsal and I’d say, ‘can you help us out here? I’m not saying this right. Maybe you could come up with a different line that would make it easier for me to get a laugh.’”

In his book, The Culture Code, author Daniel Coyle introduces a concept that makes a lot of sense for entrepreneurs to adopt. He contrasts Brutal Honesty with Warm Candor. Warm candor is the notion that we can still make our point – very clearly – without causing another person to feel small and unworthy. Feedback can be delivered without tearing down that person in a de-motivating manner.

How do we move toward a more “Carol Burnett-style” of offering warm candor and not be namby-pamby about the message we want to deliver? I believe it starts with our everyday personality. Are we generally positive and upbeat? Are we always looking for the good in every situation? Do we acknowledge others and give them pats-on-the-back when they are deserved? Or are we generally assaholics who are negative about everything and complain incessantly? Are we such perfectionists that nothing is ever right . . . and our team members know it?

If we embrace the positive personality previously described, candid conversations with members of our team can be very constructive. I rarely ever tell someone I’m “disappointed” in him or her. If I do use the term, it’s that I’m disappointed about something – but not in that person. There are other key words and phrases that are unnecessary. Attacking someone personally may seem like brutal honesty, but it’s just mean-spirited and serves no purpose. I’m not looking for a confrontation. I simply want to provide feedback that is factual and will help my team member do better next time. I try to communicate with empathy. If after multiple attempts to coach the individual on how to step-up and there is still no progress, then I have no problem starting the transition process for this team member to exit the organization. But there’s no reason that I can’t show a level of respect at all times that allows the team member to maintain his or her dignity.

Building strong and positive relationships with our co-workers and colleagues allows us to effectively use the “entrepreneurial two-by-four” of warm candor when warranted. Purity of intention is critical. We all know entrepreneurs who prefer to act like “bosses” and want to be seen as big shots. Their deployment of brutal honesty is not so much about team member growth as it is demonstrating their dominance. These so-called leaders do not understand the value of connection and creating an environment of safety. Their team members live in fear of being singled out and ridiculed. True leaders go the extra mile to create a nurturing culture that sees mistakes not as failure, but as unfinished experiments in the laboratory of life.

Honesty and candor are vital ingredients to the success of an entrepreneurial endeavor. Delivering them in an empathetic and constructive manner will seal the deal.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 98 – A Rabbit and a Hat.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Entrepreneurial Energy

What do you think of when you hear the word “elimination?” Does it have a positive or negative connotation? What could “elimination” possibly have to do with entrepreneurship? Is it a sinister plot to get rid of the competition? Happily, “elimination” is a very positive concept for entrepreneurs. Let me explain.

Nature has installed a regular elimination process within our bodies. We eat and drink foods and liquids which provide nourishment. But not all of what we consume is useful and our system eliminates this as waste. If this elimination process did not exist we would eventually become so bloated we would explode – or at least that’s my speculation!

I read a staggering statistic recently. Apparently the National Science Foundation published a paper in 2005 stating that the average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day! The paper went on to say that 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of them are repetitive. If true, this is astounding. It’s no wonder that the older we get, the harder it seems to remember things – it’s probably because our minds are so cluttered with the cumulative effect of our thoughts.

So, what does this mean for us as entrepreneurs? Having a fresh mind that is able to think clearly is paramount to our success. And of course mental clutter and negative thoughts impede our creativity. If truly 80% of our thoughts are negative, we are living in a danger zone when it comes to flourishing entrepreneurship. It’s one thing to acknowledge that we need to change our mindset. But that is easier said than done. After years of “practice,” negative thoughts may come naturally to us.

The answer is to embrace a process of elimination. The first step is to realize when negative thoughts have crept into our consciousness. Keeping a “thought journal” for a few days might be helpful in this regard. Every time we have a negative thought, we write it down in our journal. In a short period of time, we will become very mindful of our thought patterns and actually identify the triggers for negative thinking. The second step is to eliminate the negative thoughts. This might be accomplished in a symbolic way by taking the negative thoughts we’ve transferred into our journal, then tearing out the page at the end of the day and burning or destroying it in some manner.

Because nature abhors a vacuum, the elimination of negative thoughts will create a void into which we can pour positive thoughts. A few that come to mind are gratitude, enthusiasm, optimism, exhilaration, confidence and fulfillment. It’s these positive nuggets that will provide us with the “entrepreneurial energy” to reach the pinnacle of success. Just remember that the elimination process is just as important as the positive thoughts we think. Without elimination, the negative thoughts of fear, lack, limitation, envy, jealousy, hurt and unworthiness, continue to hang around and fester. They make it that much harder to usher in the positive energy that allows us to thrive. The bottom line is that we must be very intentional about the process of elimination.

There’s one more thing we can do that will physically reinforce the notion of elimination to make way for more good in our lives. If you are like me, we have all sorts of “stuff” that has accumulated over the years – material things in our garages, attics, basements, storage sheds – you name it and it’s probably there. While cleaning out these areas may not be our idea of a fun Saturday project, it certainly can be therapeutic when we see it working in tandem with eliminating negative mindsets. And it never ceases to amaze me that I save some of the darnedest things. For example, I’ve received a monthly financial publication for decades and have saved every one of them. I guess I figured that I might go back and look at them at some point in the future. Except that I never have – not one single time. And now all of that information and more is easily available on the Internet. So, I found it somewhat liberating to get rid of all of these magazines (and my house is less of a firetrap to boot). The point is that eliminating unneeded physical possessions is an act that supports the elimination of unneeded and unwanted thoughts of mind.

Entrepreneurial energy can be gained when we intentionally practice the process of eliminating negative thinking. Then the creativity and positivity that flows into the void will help propel our success like rocket fuel.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 97 – Rabbit Trails.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

The Entrepreneur’s Trap

There are many motivating factors for becoming an entrepreneur. Some of us want to be in control of our own destiny. Others are overwhelmed with passion for a particular idea. And still others want to change the world. As we embark upon our entrepreneurial journey it’s important that we understand exactly what is motivating us to do so. Are we seeking recognition; do we want to build something important; do we desire to express greater creativity, or do we want to become wealthy? Likely our motivation is a combination of a number of these factors and even others not mentioned here.

As we contemplate our motivations there’s something else that is very important for us to consider. I’m going to call it the Entrepreneur’s Trap. It could also be called the Money Trap. The thesis goes something like this. An entrepreneur – let’s call him Dylan – wants to start a business. His friends ask him why and he professes that he has a novel idea that will make a real difference in the world. He doesn’t fit the corporate environment and has always wanted to be his own boss. These friends along with members of his family shower him with accolades for the purity of his motivations, and encourage him to take the plunge.

What Dylan doesn’t tell anyone is that he really believes he can make a ton of money. He wants a massive mansion and a 70-foot yacht on an exclusive beachfront somewhere in the world. In fact, he may be suppressing this urge and trying to fool himself into believing that wealth and materialism really isn’t his main motivation. And of course if he were to state publicly that he wants to become filthy, stinking rich, he would be viewed in a negative light by his friends and family.

Let’s get one thing straight. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the desire to amass great wealth. An entrepreneur who denies that making money is a motivating factor may struggle to succeed. Why? Because driving profitability is vital to the survival of every company. The investment of capital and time along with the inherent business risks deserves a return. Where it goes off the rails is when wealth and materialism is the ultimate objective. On the other hand, if achieving wealth and materialism is a means to a bigger end, the calculus is healthy.

What does all of this mean in a practical sense? If Dylan is obsessed with making money so he can build his massive beachfront mansion and buy the 70-foot yacht, he may become quickly frustrated when he misses his profit forecasts early on. He may lose patience just when it is needed the most. Certainly there are examples of instant wealth that can be cited. But more often than not, creating and building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. The quest for being a “one percenter” can be fraught with other baggage. There may be an inclination to take shortcuts that are deficient in integrity or even legality. And how exactly do we build an organizational culture that is solely about making money for the entrepreneur? That’s certainly not a very inspiring mission for a team.

I’ve written and said before that earlier in my career I was more inclined to worship the almighty dollar. But it seemed that the more I chased it, the more elusive it was. As I grew older and more mature my focus changed. There’s no doubt that wealth accumulation was still important, but it wasn’t my singular focus. Eventually my wife and I determined that we wanted to build wealth for the purpose of giving it away. Thus was born the notion for us that generating wealth through entrepreneurship was a means to a bigger end. In our case, we established a family foundation with a mission and a purpose that will eventually provide funding for our preferred charitable causes after we are gone. But we aren’t waiting until we’re dead and buried to start this process. In 1999 we launched a scholarship program to help young people with their college expenses who aspire to become teachers. Not only do we know that in the future our financial assets will be directed to doing good work, but we get to witness the difference it makes right now while we are still alive.

We can avoid the Entrepreneur’s Trap by using wealth and materialism as a means to a bigger end. When we focus on that greater calling – whatever it may be – wealth will become a healthy result.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 96 – Just Say It.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Driven or Driving?

There’s a Netflix series that I am enjoying entitled, “Better Call Saul.” It’s about a scummy low-life ambulance-chasing Albuquerque lawyer named Jimmy McGill. Spoiler alert – in one episode, McGill becomes a minor celebrity when he rescues a man hanging from a billboard. A wealthy eccentric rancher sees the local newscast video of the rescue and calls McGill for a meeting. The rancher proceeds to announce that he and his multi-thousand acre ranch are going to secede from the United States. He needs a lawyer and offers Jimmy $1 million to handle the case – $500,000 up front and the other $500,000 when secession is final. You can see McGill sitting in the rancher’s living room – about to burst into a massive happy dance. The rancher goes to his safe and brings back a tray with bricks of 100 dollar bills. Wait for it . . . when McGill takes a look at one of the bricks, the bills are emblazoned with the face of the rancher! Perfectly legal tender portends the rancher, in his newly formed country. The scene ends with McGill driving away from the ranch in his beaten-up two-tone Suzuki Esteem.

You may be wondering what this television episode has to do with entrepreneurship. Jimmy McGill was clearly “opportunity-driven.” In other words, opportunity knocked and he answered. You may also be wondering what’s wrong with this – why wouldn’t every entrepreneur grab opportunities as they emerge? And that’s just the problem. Being opportunity-driven is effectively allowing external factors to shape our businesses and lives. Sometimes we win and sometimes we end up with a brick of fake 100 dollar bills.

There’s a great temptation for young organizations (and young people) to “grab” opportunities as they see them. This is certainly understandable. Perhaps we don’t have a lot of traction or credibility yet and need to pay the bills. The entire career of many entrepreneurs is stuck in the opportunity-driven mode. I call it the “Jim Rockford-$200-a-day-plus-expenses” approach. Those of you old enough to remember James Garner’s Rockford Files television series from 1974 – 1980 can relate to this. As a private investigator, Jim Rockford would do anything (mostly legal) for $200 per day plus expenses. I loved that show, but it taught me a great lesson – the lesson of personal limitation. Rockford would pretty much take any case that came his way and limited himself to a fixed amount of compensation and lived hand-to-mouth in a trailer on the beach.

There is another way. It’s called “opportunity-driving.” The difference between being opportunity-driven and opportunity-driving is rooted in strategy. The entrepreneur that is opportunity-driving is operating on a very strategic basis. He or she has a winning aspiration; knows where to play; knows how to win; has developed core capabilities and resources, and has created the necessary systems and processes. Utilizing this approach, the entrepreneur is focused on creating opportunities that fit the strategy.

I can relate this concept to my own business interests. In the earlier days of our organizational evolution, we would take pretty much any business that dropped in our lap. Our property management operation handled all sorts of properties – apartments, condominiums, office buildings, shopping centers, industrial facilities, and even a golf course at one point in time. We rationalized accepting assignments of all types by positing that we were in the property management business. It’s true that we developed enough critical mass with these various types of properties, but I know for a fact that not all of the business was profitable. In fact, we lost money on certain assignments. We also claimed that we were taking assignments to develop relationships that could grow into something bigger and yes, profitable. Once in a while that happened. More often than not, it didn’t.

Today, we are much more targeted with what we do. Our different business units are disciplined to handling projects that are strategically aligned. And yes, we once again are involved with a golf course, but only because it came with the 612-unit apartment community that we acquired as part of a strategic initiative. Fortunately, we found a competent operator to whom we have contracted the golf course operations since this specialty is outside our wheelhouse.

Being an opportunity-driving entrepreneur will almost always produce better results than being opportunity-driven. To accomplish this we must be strategic and disciplined.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 95 – Hedges.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.