Business is for real men

This is my company and my money and I will do what I want. I don’t need Board members and investors telling me what to do. If they don’t like what I’m doing they can leave. I don’t believe in democracy and voting in business. It slows things down and causes confusion. 

The same applies to anyone who works for me. My staff do what they’re told. They can’t question or challenge me. I know what’s best. I got us to where we are. Working for me is simple. Get the work done on time and under budget. I pay better than other companies if my employees perform well. If they don’t do it right, they get fired.

I don’t believe in training and all that soft development stuff. Business is for real men. It’s war.

The employee incentive program I set up backfired for the business

I know metrics are crucial to measuring and running a business. I got some books on entrepreneurship and business and found a set of common metrics startups and business used to measure their performance. I chose eight and added some more to capture a deeper understanding of particular aspects of my business. I then read about linking people’s performance to the metrics and using this to set targets for individual bonuses.

When I chose metrics, I didn’t pay any attention to their interrelationships. I quickly learned I had made a mistake by ignoring these. One of the key metrics was a 10% increase in new customers. Another was a 10% reduction in the investment in existing customers. I increased staff bonuses for each new customer they got. At the end of the first quarter we saw a 35% increase in new business but we lost 5% of our existing customers and only 15% of existing customers used our services more than once.

At the end of the next quarter the we saw another large increase in new consumers but a even bigger churn for existing customers and less than 10% using our services more than once. I brought this to the team and they saw no problems, they were following the metrics-based incentive program and happy with their bonuses.

Startup team: Am I the only one who cares?

I was excited and nervous for our first big tradeshow. Our team shared responsibilities: I had picked out the products, our staff were brining them over, and my cofounder was arranging the display material. We planned to meet at the hall at 7am to set things up.

I got there at 6am, nervous and ready to go. I waited; 7am came and went and no one else from my team was there. By 7:15am, I was getting scared. I called my cofounder but her voicemail inbox was full. The show opened at 8:30am and I had no idea how to pull this off without my team.

Our staff finally arrived with the products, but there was no display table. When my cofounder finally showed up I screamed at her; she had overslept. We quickly set up and started to layout the products. It immediately became obvious that our staff had brought the wrong boxes of products; there was only one color in one size. I sent two people to the warehouse to get the right boxes I had picked out. By 11am everything was sorted out. The show went well, but not as good as it could have.

That evening we took everything back to the warehouse and debriefed. No one was taking responsibility for their mistakes. I left that night feeling that no one cared other than me. I thought I was a good employer, that we had fun together, and shared a vision. Now I felt like I was the only committed one. For everyone else, it was just a job. I felt alone and isolated.