Learnings from a business owner’s perspective

What I have learned so far as a small business operator. 

On employees

All employees are actually freelancers in reality. They are entrepreneeurs. And the business they are dealing with is the product of “peace of mind”.

The ability to take responsible of an area where your boss can finally focus on other more productive activities. Your pay depends on how interested/passionate/self-motivated yourself is on the subject matter, your ability to learn and train yourself, your ability to direct and make independent decisions that aligns with company mission, and your ability to hire, train and grow others to replace your own low level activities eventually.

These employees have cumulative growth of value to the company. Their good work/services are seen by everyone. One customer grows naturally to several through good word of mouth and reviews. These employees attract other good employees. Their natural passion in the subject makes them a happy person, and they are constantly growing themselves.

These employees are assets.

The other kind of employees are liabilities. The 9-5 mentality, the watercooler gangs. They wait for instructions, they are unmotivated. They have no clue most of the time. They are potential costly lawsuits, the office drama, the politickers. They bring themselves upward by bringing their peers downwards.

These employees are like leeches. They suck of the juice of life and money from the growth of good employees. They bank on and extract as much money from the good works done by others while doing as little work as possible for their own.

In short, good employees think value. Bad employees think entitlement and rights.

On Strategy and Execution

80% of all strategy is lost without good implementation and execution.

Execution is the who, when and how.

Execution is good habits, follow through. Its follow up and organization.

Its wise resource management. Its good planning, failure proofing and accurate budgetting.

Strategy is purposeful, good planning, knowledgeable expertise on what to do and good motivation and understanding to get it done.

Strategy is knowing priorities and therefore, what to give up as tradeoff.

On Management

The first thing anyone thinks about when anything happens is “how is this going to affect me?”

Before any interaction with anyone— whether its employee, customers or bosses, asking this question beforehand is extremely practical and useful in giving you an idea on how to approach someone.

How you reward someone determines what and how they behave accordingly.

On Customer Service

Great customer service comes from ownership and total responsibility of the entire customer’s experience.

Ask yourself, “how likely is the customer going to come back or recommend someone to me next time”

On the way you treat others and the world

Remind yourself this golden rule “Treat others the way i want to be treated. Am I treating others the way I want to be treated?

Another one is to be honest. We choose honesty not because in this new economy we stand to gain the most by being truthful and transparent as an organisation, though it is. But simply, because honesty is the best policy.

To iterate, no matter what happens, the other party will definitely go through “how is this going to affect me?” in their heads.

For Asians, they have a convenient concept called “face”. And everyone’s primary motivation is to save their own “face”. The closest interpretation to “face” in the western world is “ego”.

It behoves anyone who works with other people to understand this, and take the concept of face seriously and apply it in everyday activity.

On strengths

This concept so severely underlooked and forgotten in the business world.

In marketing, positioning and USP, a business’ strengths determines its competitive advantage and its uniqueness and value to clients.

In employees, how many times do we forget to build their job around their strengths and instead of focusing on getting them to fit in like cogs in a machine?

Similarly on ourselves personally, how much do we focus on using our strengths to achieve our goals?

I think there’s an 80-20 principle behind using your strengths.

And great leaders always take this seriously into account, and they concentrate heavily on strengths when its to their advantage. Its an area where you should take risk in, if there’s opportunity to do so.

On learning

There’s much to learn everywhere. The best learners cultivates the art of learning. They learn anything from anyone they meet and anything they encounter. They are indiscriminate absorbers and unbiased observers. They accept reality and its “so called” stark ugliness.

If you’re doing business, you have to be a learner. There’s absolutely no other way. Learning new things and going into an area of total uncertainty and unknown is a preresquisite skill for entrepreneurs.

Here’s a tip: Learn using your strengths. Its the difference between productive success and abject miserable failure.

Here’s an observation: most of learning does not comes from book. Reading is an act of gathering data and occassionally perspective. and very rarely, knowledge.

Accurate knowledge comes from quick conversations and sharing of results from face to face meetings, through questions and inquiry.

Questions are more important than answers. Good questions are rarely answered, and should stay that way.

Knowledge comes from perspectives of others. We always know what we already know, and we will keep on confirming what we already believe in (despite inconsistent data) if there’s no other perspectives involved. Talk to others.

On attitude

Attitude is much more important than you think. Its the necessary condition for success and its the only thing you need, if you got nothing else at all at your disposal.

On optimism

Theres pros and cons to it, but if you’re in the entrepreneurial field, you need it, a lot. Period.

On holiday seasons

New years events for business owners means differently compared to everyday laypersons. Employees think of holiday, holiday promotions, holidays and personal vacations.

For business owners, its a socially shared event of acceptable irrationality. In reality, its just another day. Yet, this is also a date with certain taught rituals and has sentimental meanings behind it. With there’s market irrationalities, there’s business opportunities.

New year events also mean there’s a high chance of robbery, extortion, request for bribery and handouts and bonuses.

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