May 10, 2013, by Malvika Johal

My guide to starting your own business – Part 4

Written by: R L (Bob) Hall (BSc, PhD; University Of Nottingham )
Owner & MD of Top & Jeffries Limited; Co-owner & Chairman of Fuel Additive Science Technologies Limited, Shropshire, UK

Welcome to the fourth in the series – “Starting your own business – what I wish someone had told me 25 years ago.”

This is the most common mistake made when starting your own business.. Often if people have a  lot of things to do they just try and work faster to “get through the list”. You need to understand that it is OK not to have completed all tasks you need to get done. It is inexcusable, however, not to know what is involved with each task and to not have a plan at your fingertips in order to deliver. Without having thought things through, or a plan, you are not in control of your work. Not in control is a bad thing in the work place, a  written plan also helps you to relax more and have less of the “what ifs?” buzzing around inside your head. Be realistic when developing the plan (this skill will develop with practice) and err on the side of “under promising” and “over delivering”.

We never have enough time to get things 100% perfect, there are just not enough hours in the day. In the real world, you need to start becoming comfortable with accepting that 80% is good enough. This is difficult for most people, as we tend to be perfectionists. The more experience I have, however, of observing successful people the more I see them embracing the 80% rule. Time is our enemy in the competitive environment we live in. Getting 80% of the way there on time is much better than being perfect but too late.

Make swift decisions, and not delaying decisions, which creates personal stress and means that those around us do not know what needs to be done or how to interact with you. The most effective work colleagues I have observed have always made swift decisions combined with setting the broad directions and letting others make their own detailed decisions within this context. Delaying decisions nearly always creates more problems – one of the laws of unintended consequences.

There is no correlation between academic intelligence, emotional intelligence and being effective in the work place. I have seen some intelligent people not write things down because they have a very good memory and it has not let them down so far. This trait is intellectual laziness and is a disaster waiting to happen. The world of work is too complex for anyone to “keep it all in their head” and not having a systematic approach to review the plan and progress versus the plan is just plain stupid. Smart people do dumb stuff every day. Effective people do not. Look for effective role models in the workplace and learn some hints and tips as to what makes them effective. Furthermore, always reserve the right to become smarter. People advance in their careers through their achievements, not their IQ. Unsatisfied potential geniuses are scattered throughout many work places.

Next in the series discusses selling, no matter what you do there is always an element of sales or promotion.

Posted in Entrepreneurs