How to employ an entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs focus on goals, achieve success and create wealth. Boy, wouldn’t you want some of them working for you?
The problem is that the best entrepreneurs are unemployable. They do things their way, they don’t care for the niceties of policy and procedure – especially when defined by someone else, they won’t do what they’re told, and they don’t care too much if they upset a few people along the way. In summary, they’re unmanageable.
Not only that, but if they’ve been successful, they’ll probably have a few quid and won’t be that interested in the sort of salaries most businesses can offer.
But, wow, what a powerhouse, what a supersonic boost to your business, if you could harness the energy, drive, motivation, tenacity, results-focus and business skills that many entrepreneurs have. So is it possible? Answer – yes, if you follow the guide below…
Well they’re not sitting around in the local job centre, so where are they? Generally the ones you would want to meet are going to be hanging around in business orientated places doing business orientated things. So, they’ll probably be active on LinkedIn – possibly taking part in various LinkedIn discussion groups, members of organisations such as the Institute of Directors (IOD), doing the rounds of angel investor clubs, looking at or doing a non-exec job or two, or perhaps setting themselves up as a business consultant of some sort. If you start hanging around the same sort of places, possibly put a job ad on LinkedIn, or search the Non-Executive Director register at the IOD, you’ll find them.
Why would they work for you?
They might not need the money, but they do need the intellectual stimulation and the buzz of achievement. So if your business has the potential to grow significantly, in a market sector that they find interesting, and they like and believe in you personally, you’ve got a chance.
Confidence to employ people better than you are
Do you feel inferior because they’ve more business experience or expertise than you? Well don’t. Any more than the fact that your Marketing Manager knows more about marketing than you do, or your Sales Director is better at selling, or your Development Director understands the nitty-gritty of your products a bit better than you – frankly that’s great. Because you should always be aiming to employ fantastic people who are better at their specialisms than you could possibly be. Your job is to find them and hold it all together.
Don’t mess else they’ll walk
When people need their salary to pay the mortgage, put food on the table and clothe the kids, they’ll generally put up with a boss that doesn’t always deliver what s/he promises. Successful entrepreneurs are much less likely to do so. So if you make an agreement, honour it. Don’t mess your entrepreneur around, because they’ll simply leave (or worse – they’ll get their own back).
Chuck out all the constraints that you as an employer impose on your employees – hours of work, holiday entitlement, job descriptions, performance appraisal and so on. You can’t put an entrepreneur worth his or her salt in a box and expect them to perform well. Anyone who’s run their own business probably values the freedom they get from doing so above everything else. It doesn’t mean they won’t conform when necessary – they generally will if there’s significant valid business benefit from doing so – but let them make that decision for themselves, don’t impose it.
Entrepreneurs are nearly always goal orientated. They don’t need to be told how to attain the goal, they just need the goal, and then the freedom and tools necessary to get on with achieving it. Process, procedures and politics that get it the way inappropriately (in their opinion) will be ignored or torn up. And don’t impose the goal – work with the entrepreneur in a way that results in them deciding what the goal is, and you agreeing it with them. The goal is theirs, with 100% buy-in and complete focus on its achievement.
The most your entrepreneur will want is coaching and advice when they need it. And that means when they perceive the need for it, not when you decide to give it. The only other management technique you need to know is ‘hands-off’.
Equity is a must, and don’t mess around with a few percent – it will need to be a significant chunk. On the other hand, salaries don’t have to be enormous – enough to be sensible but not necessarily astronomical. These guys are motivated by the success of the end-game, by ownership, and by making a major contribution to business success.
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