The Sweaty Entrepreneur

We entrepreneurs sweat a lot. Our perspiration is the result of a lot of heavy lifting. It’s the byproduct of many a nervous moment whether it be scrambling to make a payroll or waiting to find out if we won a major contract. We’ve all heard the phrase – “don’t sweat the small stuff.” But what exactly does this mean? Someone needs to write a handbook for entrepreneurs on what we should sweat about! So here goes.

Don’t sweat what type of new office furniture to buy. Do sweat whether or not sales people are spending too much time sitting on the new office furniture instead of meeting face-to-face with customers. Don’t sweat whether the receptionist is wearing a sundress that is an inch too short. Do sweat how the receptionist is greeting customers in person and on the phone. Don’t sweat whether or not the expense report format is just right. Do sweat whether it’s clear to the team what expenses are eligible for the expense report.

Don’t sweat the design of the uniforms for the company softball team. Do sweat a bad Google customer review. Don’t sweat that someone parked over the line in the parking lot. Do sweat the cleanliness of the public restrooms in your place of business. Don’t sweat the fact that a team member seemed snippy to you this morning. Do sweat whether or not you made eye contact with and cheerfully greeted every team member you saw this morning. Don’t sweat the proposal binder that started to come apart in your client meeting. Do sweat the manner in which you differentiated your product or service in that proposal. Don’t sweat the naming conventions for your electronic files. Do sweat the critical documentation that needs to be in those files.

Don’t sweat those e-mails from colleagues that ramble on forever. Do sweat the content of the e-mails and what might be discoverable in some future litigation. Don’t sweat how much it cost for lunch with a customer. Do sweat how much that lunch helped to improve your relationship with the customer. Don’t sweat how you looked in a candid photo at the company picnic that was posted on your company’s Facebook page. Do sweat whether you made sure that every member of your team felt appreciated and valued at the company picnic. Don’t sweat it that you could only afford $25 gift cards for your team at Christmas. Do sweat whether your team members see you as a genuine and authentic leader.

Don’t sweat not taking credit for the successful completion of a project you led. Do sweat sharing the credit with members of your team that ensured the success of that project. Don’t sweat being a little late for the weekly game of pickle ball with friends. Do sweat being a few minutes early for a client presentation. Don’t sweat the fact that the restaurant mixed up your dinner order. Do sweat the note of condolence to be written to a team member who just lost a loved one. Don’t sweat that your name wasn’t mentioned in a newspaper article about your company. Do sweat whether or not your company will be mentioned in a newspaper investigative report for mishandling a customer complaint.

Don’t sweat the details of the co-pay on your company’s new health insurance plan. Do sweat the details of your company’s ten-year vision. Don’t sweat the wording of your personnel handbook’s section on the dos and don’ts of copy machine usage. Do sweat the wording of the contract you are about to sign for a major equipment purchase. Don’t sweat trying to look like a hipster in your new clothes. Do sweat looking to your team like a confident and competent leader. Don’t sweat bailing out on the umpteenth all-hands conference call to discuss (ad nauseum) the final changes to the company training manual. Do sweat making it to your daughter’s school musical in which she is performing.

Yes, there are plenty of things to sweat about and plenty of things to not. The trick is figuring out that which is important. The best measure is to focus on what is best for your customers and your team members. Much of the rest may be superfluous.

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 115 – Overflowing.

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.

Mickey Mouse’s Father – An Amazing Entrepreneur

I recently re-read a terrific biography by Bob Thomas called Walt Disney: An American Original. Thomas was a reporter and biographer who authored multiple biographies focusing on Hollywood celebrities. The Disney story is fascinating and is packed with incredible entrepreneurial anecdotes. As a kid in the 1950s and 1960s, I watched Walt Disney Presents and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color on ABC and NBC. I remember attending the Disney movie Babes in Toyland in early 1962 at the local theater. And then of course there was Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in 1964. The pièce de résistance was a visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, with my family. Of course as a boy I had no idea what entrepreneurship was all about.

Roll the tape forward several decades and I find myself in awe of this amazing man. He epitomizes so many positive traits of a successful entrepreneur. For starters, he was one of the most optimistic individuals I’ve ever studied. Walt Disney was born in 1901 and began his career at age 18, and in the 1920s moved to California and launched Disney Studios with his older brother, Roy. The early days were lean – sometimes very lean. There were many weeks when the Disneys were scrounging for enough money to make the payroll. Roy took this very seriously and fretted considerably over their plight. But Walt was the eternal optimist. He would smile and say he never worried about money. He believed they would always figure out a way to survive. And he was right! Somehow the studio inevitably pulled a rabbit out of a hat and came up with the cash. Without Walt’s optimism and positive mindset, there would be no Disney legend that we know today.

Walt understood grit and perseverance better than anyone else. The Disney organization was just starting to come into its own when the Great Depression came crashing down upon the country. And yet Walt continued fine tuning his craft and creating cartoons that were well received by theater audiences everywhere. His optimism fueled this perseverance and every time he was knocked down, he was able to pick himself up, dust himself off and go back at it. This resilience combined with perseverance and a positive attitude was the key to surviving the dark days of the 1930s.

Creativity was another Disney hallmark. Walt got the idea to create a feature-length animated movie and introduced the world to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. No one in the film industry had every produced a feature-length animated movie and everyone doubted that such a production could succeed. Walt Disney proved the skeptics wrong and followed with additional masterpieces such as Pinnochio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942). When World War II took away many of his talented animators, he made movies under a contract with the federal government. While not nearly as profitable, the Disney organization was able to endure the war and remain in business. Walt’s creativity and ability to adapt to his circumstances were more entrepreneurial characteristics that led to his success.

He was a true visionary in every sense of the word. After succeeding with motion pictures, Walt foresaw the opportunity to create an amusement park that embodied the magic he had been delivering through his animated films. I can still remember that trip to Disneyland when I was five or six years old. I was overwhelmed by such an amazing experience. After Disneyland came his ideas for Disney World and Epcot in central Florida. Unfortunately, Walt Disney died from lung cancer in 1966 at the age of 65. The tragedy of this was the fact that he never witnessed the finished product of the Florida projects.

Walt was obsessed with detail and would often snoop after hours and look at the animator boards to see what his team was producing. Often the animators would arrive the next morning to find notes from Walt suggesting changes that would improve their work – and he was usually right about what he wanted. He demanded the highest level of quality for everything that bore the Disney brand. This was one of the major differentiators that enabled the Disney organization to consistently outpace the competition.

We entrepreneurs would be well-served to use Walt Disney as a role model. Wrapped into a single human being are the entrepreneurial traits of optimism and positivity; grit, perseverance and resilience; adaptability; creativity; vision; attention to detail and demand for quality. The impact he has had on our culture is indelible. The impact he has had in blazing a trail for entrepreneurs is profound.

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 114 – Exactly What is Accountability?

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.

Wall-Building Entrepreneurs

I’m shaking my head right now. Call it confusion, a lack of understanding or maybe even bewilderment. I’m really puzzled about something that I’ve been observing with more frequency. I’ve noticed a number of entrepreneurs building walls. Not necessarily in the physical sense but metaphorically. And the walls that are being built are designed to actually keep customers OUT! Huh? Why would any entrepreneur want to build a wall that keeps a customer out? You got it – that’s what has me scratching my head.

Let’s start with a sign I saw on the door of a shop in a resort town in northern California. The sign requested that customers NOT bring their dogs into the store because the store owner had dogs of her own inside that were “nervous” around other dogs. I’m truly not making this up. It’s become fairly common in many communities across the country to see people taking their dogs into stores, restaurants and other places of business. And it’s become a generally accepted practice for such businesses to welcome dogs. Rather than leave her dogs at home, this store owner basically told all customers with dogs to stay out of her store. I wonder how many sales she’s lost by building such an unfriendly wall.

Next, let’s talk about credit cards. I know American Express charges fees on credit card transactions that are much higher than Visa, Mastercard and some of the other cards used by consumers. What puzzles me is the fact that some businesses won’t take the American Express card. Costco is the worst large-scale offender. In 2017 the company dumped American Express in favor of Visa – not Mastercard or any other card. In this case Costco made the move to enhance its profitability and not to benefit the customer. I’ve spoken to a number of entrepreneurs who offer the explanation that the fees are just too high and that’s why they won’t accept AMEX. What they fail to understand is that they are also building a wall to keep customers out when they make decisions like this that ignore customer convenience.

It’s Friday night and my wife and I are dining at a restaurant that we really enjoy. Our mouths have been watering all day in anticipation of the Panko-crusted calamari strips on the appetizer menu. But wait – we are informed that the restaurant is “sold out” of the calamari. On a Friday night! How does this happen? I’ve ranted before about restaurants that run out of a particular menu item and I’m going to do it again. Except this time I’ll expand the idea to encompass other products as well. In this day and age of technology, businesses that don’t effectively manage their inventory are really missing the boat. I realize in non-restaurant settings, it may be impossible to carry an inventory so complete that every SKU is always in stock. But care must be taken not to advertise specials on items that are sold out; and floor displays should be pulled when the items are out of stock. I went into a major national pharmacy every other day for a week looking for a particular item that was missing from the shelf. More walls being built . . . my solution – order it from Amazon.

Everyone will be able to identify with this next “wall” and sometimes it can be so huge that there’s no getting over, under or around it. You walk into a public restroom in a store or restaurant and it’s gross beyond belief. There’s an unidentifiable crusty substance in the corners where the wall meets the floor. The trash bin is overflowing; pipes are corroding; soap dispensers are empty; toilets and/or urinals are disgusting; only one dispenser has paper towels and the list goes on. When we start looking around at the public space outside the restroom we notice that it’s far from sparkling clean. This “wall” has been built so high that we can’t even see the top of it (and we probably wouldn’t want to touch even if we could see it)!

I’m sure you have your own examples of Wall-Building Entrepreneurs. Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call to all entrepreneurs to take a hard look at every aspect of our operations and identify any “walls” we may have erected that keep customers out. Then in the immortal words of Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987 in a speech given at the Berlin Wall, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

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 113 – A Mt. Everest Mindset

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.

Existential Threats to the Entrepreneur

That’s an ominous sounding title for this blog – right? But not necessarily for reasons you might be thinking. When most entrepreneurs think about what can “kill them” – in a metaphorical sense – they might list undercapitalization, the inability to hire a qualified and competent workforce, or chronic issues with their product. While these can be serious problems, they are much less severe than the existential threats I’m going to discuss.

I believe that the most menacing threat to an entrepreneur’s existence is his or her own mindset. Do we truly believe we can succeed, or do we feel victimized and constantly under siege? Great entrepreneurs are eternal optimists. We know we can win – there’s no doubt about it. We will pivot when we have to, but we are absolutely convinced that we will reach the Promised Land – whatever that might represent for our endeavor. Entrepreneurs who are too skeptical or pessimistic are destined to fail. They become tentative and can be paralyzed when making important decisions. Negative Nellies will usually crash and burn. They live in a world of lack and limitation. They can’t escape the negative energy that always surrounds them and eventually impacts their team.

Hand-in-hand with the negative mindset is another existential threat – that of low resilience. Look, we entrepreneurs get beaten up a lot. We make a ton of mistakes. We hear from plenty of people who don’t like us or what we are doing. If we can’t get up off the ground when we’re knocked down, then we’ll die lying there – again, metaphorically speaking. And it’s not just the ability to bounce back that’s critical. We do so with a smile on our face and new resolve that we have actually taken a step toward success with our setback. Does that sound contradictory? It’s this kind of thinking – that we’re actually moving forward when it seems that we’re failing – that is the real definition of resilience. The existential threat melts away when we are always tougher than the problems we encounter.

The next existential threat is that of a lack of vision. Entrepreneurs absolutely must be able to see into the future. The ability to be a visionary also leads us to think more strategically and work on our business more than in our business. An entrepreneur who is a good operator but lacks vision will eventually “die.” It may be a slow death, but death nonetheless. Why? Because without a vision – especially one that inspires our team – we are simply stirring the pot. Over time, things begin to unravel. Key people leave because the future is unclear. Important customers leave because a competitor (with vision) has offered a more innovative product or service. Rather than create a clear vision, the operator-entrepreneur takes tactical actions to try and solve the problem. This may include belt-tightening measures or price increases, neither of which addresses the underlying issue. R.I.P.

Poor communications skills are another existential threat to entrepreneurs. This encompasses many elements. The entrepreneur who can’t persuade through artful communications won’t be able to sell his or her ideas to customers, team members or anyone else. The entrepreneur who is unable to communicate effectively will have difficulty building important relationships. When communications are non-existent or garbled at best, misunderstandings will occur and feelings are hurt. I have found that a very large percentage of challenges that we encounter are the result of inadequate communications. Entrepreneurial leaders must communicate clearly, concisely and constantly to eliminate this existential threat.

There’s one more existential threat that’s a biggie. Entrepreneurs who operate without integrity will eventually die. Our stock in trade is our integrity. It matters not how positive and optimistic we are, how strong our ability to bounce back, how grand our vision might be, and how well we communicate, if we lack integrity we’re dead as a doornail. Customers want to do business with entrepreneurs who are honest and forthright. Team members want to work for entrepreneurs who always do the right thing. Of course there are examples abound of CEOs and companies that seem to have “gotten away” with underhanded behavior. It may take a month, a year or even longer, but eventually the jig is up. Maybe it’s karma or there’s some other explanation, but the entrepreneurs who don’t play it straight will lose in the end.

There are many existential threats to entrepreneurship. A negative mindset, low resilience, a lack of vision, poor communications skills and a deficiency in the integrity department, top the list.

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 112 – Asshole Self-Test.

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 Scalable Entrepreneur

Many entrepreneurs have big dreams . . . really big dreams. We start a company; nurture it; live with it through thick and thin, and then someday it turns into a major enterprise. Perhaps we’re selling a product or service across the nation. Maybe we have hundreds or thousands of employees. Possibly our top line revenue and bottom line profits extend seven or eight digits (or more) to the left of the decimal point. At this point we’re thinking that the dream has come true. But how do we get to there from here?

Some entrepreneurs believe that they can achieve scale if only they had sufficient capital. I believe there’s more to it. There’s no question that capital is an ingredient to achieving scale. But I don’t think capital comes first. What comes first you ask? The customer. Here’s my theory. We scale to meet customer demand. We don’t scale to meet capital demand. As we grow our business we’re always looking for ways to design systems and processes that are scalable – that’s a really smart approach. Maybe we even hire team members who we believe can handle scaling when the time comes. In other words, we’re take preparatory steps toward scale. But we don’t actually pull the trigger and start moving to scale just yet.

Max started a premium t-shirt company three years ago. His t-shirts are unique in terms of design, material, construction and incredible artwork that feature the work of an up-and-coming artist. Sales have been steadily growing and the venture is now turning a small profit. Max has a wealthy uncle to whom he’s pitched the idea of providing capital that would allow for significant expansion. Uncle Frank has agreed to lend Max $5 million which would be used for a larger plant, equipment and raw materials. With this capacity, the company could produce five times the number of t-shirts as it can presently. In effect, Max has taken the “build it and they will come” approach to scaling his business. He is being capital-driven rather than customer-driven. There’s nothing wrong with what Max is doing, however it is inherently more risky than expanding to meet customer demand.

Here’s how the story might be told differently from a customer-driven standpoint. Max has customers beating down his doors to buy his product. He runs three-shifts 24/7 at his small manufacturing plant and has a six-month backlog. There’s just no way he can wring any more production out of the current facility. He has heard from eight distributors that they would double their already sizable orders if he could increase his production. Max finally decides to scale his business based upon the exponential increase in customer demand he is experiencing.

Now you might be thinking that this is all pretty obvious. But in practice we see entrepreneurs scaling their companies all the time because they have access to capital – customer demand is secondary. There’s often the belief that they need to get big really fast in order to beat the competition and succeed. There’s no question that bigger is better under certain circumstances. The unit economics may be more favorable at scale, and marketing, general and administrative costs may be more efficient. But what about the customer? Is the demand sufficient to meet the increase in supply? Or will the corporate balance sheet reflect ever growing inventory levels?

I understand the entrepreneur’s desire to grow and scale. We’re doing just that with our companies. However, the apartment-related businesses we operate are responding to an increasing demand for the apartment lifestyle due to some powerful demographics that are at work in our industry. Capital is abundant, but we’ve been driven by customer demand first and foremost. As long as customers want our product we will use the capital to scale our portfolio. We’ve seen other firms in our space that are awash with capital and are building apartments to soak up that capital. We’d like to think that our approach is less risky because we understand customer demand and are meeting it.

Scaling an entrepreneurial venture is exciting and can be very rewarding. Doing so by responding to customer demand is undoubtedly less risky than growing a business primarily as a result of accessible capital.

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 111 – Gut Check.

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 Reactionary Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is all about innovation and being on the cutting edge. It’s about dreaming, creating and doing things our own way. Sound about right to you? Then what would you say if I told you that another aspect of entrepreneurship is being a reactionary? Actually I’m taking liberties with the term. When I was reaching adulthood in the late sixties and early seventies, a reactionary was usually associated with a person who was protesting the Vietnam War, and might use extreme measures to do so. To be sure, I’m not referring to entrepreneurs as this kind of reactionary. Entrepreneurs are reactionary in the sense that we are often reactive. What we react to can be make or break for our enterprise. Let’s look at two different aspects of being reactive.

Many entrepreneurs react to their competition. This is evident every day as we watch companies raise or lower prices based upon what they see their competitors doing. But there are many other examples of how this is being done. Company A produces a wearable device that measures the steps taken by a consumer. Company B produces a similar device that measures steps, but it also measures sleep patterns. Executives at Company A become concerned that it will lose market share, so they order the  production of an upgraded device that measures, steps, sleep and calories consumed. This is the additional “bells and whistles” approach. This arms race continues unabated – we’ve all seen it over and over.

While it’s important to know what our competition is doing, there’s something even more important to which we must react. Smart entrepreneurs react to their customers. Just because Company B produced a wearable device that measures steps, sleep, calories, plays music, allows the viewing of text messages AND counts the number of black cats that cross our path, it doesn’t mean that their customers actually want such features. Rather than participate in the aforementioned arms race with his/her competition, the smart entrepreneur drills down to understand what customers want and need, and then focuses on producing a product that responds accordingly.

Normally we say that we want to be proactive. We tend to think that being reactive is somehow “behind the curve.” In many areas of entrepreneurship this way of thinking is absolutely correct. We may equate being reactive to being unprepared, slow to respond or being a step or two behind. As entrepreneurs we need to be proactive when it comes to our production methods, marketing and sales ideas, and in all areas of human resources. But, being reactive to our customers is just plain good business.

Let’s break this down further. If we are totally and continuously connected to our customers, we are going to know immediately when they perceive issues with our products and services, giving us the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments. For example, maybe we make a thing-a-ma-jig that is blue. But we learn from some of our customers that they really want it to be red. We react and begin making a red version. This is good. Suppose that our delivery time used to be one week and now is two. Our customers begin telling us that two weeks is too long. So we react and tighten our delivery schedule. This is not good. Why? Because we should know that customers don’t want to wait two weeks for anything – everyone wants everything yesterday. We should have been proactive in this instance and never let the delivery schedule push out to two weeks. Instead, we should have been proactively trying to figure out how to shorten the timeframe from one week to a couple of days.

The entrepreneur who is constantly reacting to his/her competitors is the one who is behind the curve. Always trying to one-up the competition is a dangerous game to play unless it is done in concert with understanding the needs and wants of the customer. And then, the focus actually shifts from the competition to the customer. In the end, this may result in besting the other competitor in the space – but that wasn’t the primary objective.

Being an entrepreneurial reactionary makes sense when we are reacting to what we can do better for our customers. Then we can be proactive in all other aspects of our enterprise.

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 110 – Exciting Disappointment.

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.

Bedlam, Chaos and the Slammed Entrepreneur

Tony owns a five-year old company that produces several different flavors of a healthy energy bar. Business is booming and the company is flirting with profitability. The business will soon reach a scale where profitability is consistent. Sales have been growing at 50% per year and the team has now expanded to 75 employees. The production facility runs two shifts and plans are in the works for a third. Sounds like a dream situation – right?

Here’s a look at the other side of Tony’s operation. A piece of machinery in the plant seems to be on its last legs with periodic breakdowns at the most inopportune times. Capital is needed to add two more pieces of equipment to accommodate the planned third shift. Tony’s not exactly sure what the source of those funds will be. His marketing director quit and the position hasn’t yet been filled. Also, the company needs to hire 15 new employees for the upcoming third shift – but it’s been very hard to find people that are willing to work all night long. On top of all that, a product recall may be in the offing due to a problem with the packaging. Tony has been working 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week for months without a break. He’s stressed and badly needs some time off. But he’s worried that if he steps away – even for a long weekend – the business might go off the rails. Tony is experiencing bedlam, chaos and is overwhelmingly slammed.

If you are an entrepreneur can you relate to this not-so-hypothetical scenario? Everything is go-go-go and seems totally out of control. We find ourselves spending the vast majority of our time working “in” the business rather than “on” the business. We know we probably need to add another key staff position or two to allow us to work more strategically, but we worry that profitability and cash flow might be too tight if we do. We figure we can “muscle through” for a few more months and eventually the profit picture will improve to the point that bringing on the key personnel will be easier. Unfortunately, the “few more months” stretches out a big longer than expected (or desired).

What we are solving is not how to cope with the chaos, bedlam and stress, but how to move out of this mode as quickly as possible. Every minute we spend mired in this mess is another minute that is added to the ledger of total frustration and wheel-spinning. We all know the eventual outcome of this – a loss of passion, burnout, health issues and potentially much worse.

Step OneStop the madness. Seriously, stop and step away for 24-hours. Without a clear head we can’t fix a thing. We don’t check our e-mail; we don’t call the office; we go dark and do something – anything – that will turn our attention away from the bedlam, the chaos and the stress.

Step TwoAssess. We catalog all of the pieces to this crazy jigsaw puzzle. What is working and what isn’t. What are the biggest issues we are facing? This is not a time to find solutions. We have a single focus and that is to take stock of our situation.

Step ThreePrioritize. Once we have identified all of our issues we next prioritize the swamp. In other words, which alligator is the largest and most likely to eat us and which is the smallest.

Step FourDelegate. Look, we can’t do this all by ourselves. If we have key members of our team that can help, we bring them into the picture at this point. If we don’t have key people, we may need to turn to outside consultants to provide assistance.

Step FivePlan. We take each issue and create a project plan in collaboration with our key team members or consultants. The plan needs to take a step-by-step approach that identifies what resources will be needed for successful implementation as well as a specific timeline to get there.

Step SixExecute. With a plan in hand and the workload delegated, it’s the entrepreneur’s job to pull the trigger and turn everyone loose to execute. Then he or she must monitor the activity and hold people accountable for the desired results.

You may be thinking that this is a pretty obvious process. Except that it’s not. When we are stuck on the treadmill of bedlam, chaos and stress, it’s hard if not impossible, to rise above it all and take the six steps I just outlined. Discipline is needed to stay on course – that’s another responsibility of the entrepreneur. Gradually sanity will be restored and our enterprise will hum like a well-oiled machine.

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 109 – Super Powers.

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.