Everybody Wants Success, But Many Are Afraid to Reach for the Golden Ring

Ken Kayse

It takes a tremendous amount of intestinal fortitude to be an entrepreneur.

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Of all the qualities that are necessary to be a successful business owner, none of them are more important than having the guts to actually run the business.

You can have all the business acumen in the world — money, education, desire, type A personality, and degrees that make you an expert — but, if you don’t have the guts it takes to make harsh, ruthless decisions, or the guts to take action before it is needed, you will not succeed.

When action is needed, procrastination is a business owner’s Achilles heel.

As an entrepreneur myself, more than once I hired the wrong person for my new position. Some of those wrong decisions were more costly than others.

How?

I procrastinated and waited way too long to fire the misfits. I kept delaying the firing by giving the employee the benefit of doubt. “Maybe I didn’t give them enough guidance, enough training, enough wages, or enough benefits to motivate them to do what I expected from them.”

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Looking back on each of these errors in my judgment certainly is easier now than it was as I lived through their terrible performances on the job.

Making excuses for an employee’s performance is one of the most critical errors, I believe, in owning a business. They can either do their job, or they can’t. There is no gray area in performing one’s job.

Be slow to hire and quick to fire!

In my industry—insurance—finding qualified staff to hire, train, and retain is always a chore. The learning curve for someone who has never worked in this field is quite long, at least 18 months to get them productive on a consistent basis.

With that in mind, what entrepreneur can afford to wait 18 months for results? Right! None!

Naturally, what happens next in my profession is the owner will hire one person with no experience and another person with experience to satisfy this year’s production results. That means the owner has to advertise more heavily, maybe offer a higher starting rate than the industry standard (which is already too low) and possibly offer an immediate sign-on bonus for those with experience.

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The next problem that will arise (trust me on this) will be when the employer has to get the new hires qualified to use whatever current computer system is being used at the time of the hire, along with paying to get them licensed and professionally trained so they can be great ambassadors for the owner.

Remember, your employees are the first line of contact with the customer. They should treat each customer the same way you would treat the customer.

In conjunction with the training period and licensing or another form of certification that they can do the job, the owner still has to worry about and plan for the employee ghosting them for a better opportunity from another employer — who, by the way, won’t have the same expenses as you when they bring them on because you’ve already paid for their licensing and training.

At this point, many an entrepreneur will give up. Yes, seriously. They get so frustrated from having to start the hiring process all over that they start falling behind on their own job performance.

You will be amazed at the number of entrepreneurs who have “the heart of a pea,” which is an old horseracing term used to define horses that will lead the pack from the start of the race until the top of the stretch.

Once the horse sees how long the stretch is, it loses focus, or it loses its wind, starts to steadily fall back in the pack, and then gets outrun by many of its weaker foes, ending up a disappointment to the bettors.

According to the Small Business Administration, 65% of new startups won’t see their 10-year anniversary, with as many as 20% not making it past their first year in business.

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The Small Business Administration conducted a study of failed business owners and found there are a variety of reasons failure will happen, among them:

  • Not recognizing the scale (employees) needed to succeed.
  • Lack of cash flow
  • Little knowledge of competitors
  • Wrong market
  • Lack of research
  • Bad marketing
  • Bad partnership
  • Not an expert

It is impossible to grow a business if you don’t have enough employees hired and trained to satisfy your customers.

Having the intestinal fortitude to offer your employees unique benefits that your competitors can’t match is difficult, but absolutely necessary, in my opinion.

Perhaps it is more personal days off, higher starting pay, bonus incentives for reaching tenure milestones with your company, or any other combination of special extras you can think of that Joe Blow, your competitor, can’t or doesn’t offer. In today’s employment world, entrepreneurs must be creative in their hiring practices to prevent ghosting.

I know how difficult it is for a business owner to ‘spend money to make money’, especially in today’s environment. The cash flow is restricted by the budget restraints placed on the business because the owner has to make sure he/she can pay all the bills.

That’s where “guts” come into play. Perhaps a visit to your local banker to ask for a line of credit is needed. Going farther into debt than you anticipated is never a welcome solution. However, you have to weigh the possible use of debt to keep the business afloat, as compared to the failure of the business.

If your business is in trouble from any of the problem areas I’ve listed above, you must solve the problems to succeed. That takes time, patience, and a lot of guts!

Thanks for reading this!

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Being a "Lefty," my writing tends to lean a little to the left, but I consider myself an Independent--I'm willing to listen to all sides. Writing gives me a chance to gather my thoughts. All my life I have been a glass-half-full believer.

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