Theory vs. Practical: Smart Entrepreneurs Don’t Take Sides

art1“I don’t believe in sitting in class to learn about management and how to do business. All they teach is theory. I would rather be out there doing the practical stuff,” said a young man on discovering that I was taking MBA classes. When he was done, I quietly asked him, “Why can’t you do both?”

You don’t have to do an MBA to succeed in business, but what I don’t support is the disdain that some folks have for the theories of management.

The young man would have found some of my management classes useful because at that point he could barely pay his staff and was making grave business mistakes. His disdain for theory was simply not smart.

Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern management explained that, “…Every practice rests on theory, even if the practitioners themselves are unaware of it. Entrepreneurship rests on a theory of economy and society…”

Theory doesn’t make practice insignificant. Rather, it gives people the basis to research, test and refine ideas in order to get better at their trade. Also, theories prove that results are systemic – and that’s the truth.

Fail, Learn, Do Better

29iht-melikian29-pica-articlelargeNow, blogs, books and other media reveal that the idea of failure has been embraced by entrepreneurs. In fact, some investors won’t consider your idea if you’ve not failed at something. Failure is now a badge of honor that entrepreneurs proudly display.

But what’s the point?

Has failing suddenly become fun? Do you have to fail in order to succeed? Does failure serve any real purpose? Really, what’s the point?

I’ll tell you right now (for free): failure is no fun. As an entrepreneur, I hate to fail; it’s never the goal. Winning is the preferred option – always! However, the new attitude towards failure helps the entrepreneur and this is why.

Failure is now a tool for learning. These days, little time is spent crying over spilt milk. When failure occurs, effective entrepreneurs switch to exploration (or study) mode. Yes, they feel bad, but learning begins almost immediately.

The entrepreneur engages the learning process with one purpose in mind: TO DO BETTER. Failure has no other use.

The proof that you’ve learned from your failure is better performance. Until then, you’re yet to figure out why you failed – and in that case, keep learning.

Boss, Hire Better People!

romero-britto-in-the-parkOn a consulting assignment, many years ago, I got into a conversation with a business owner who told me that she was careful to hire low-skilled individuals, who asked fewer questions and would not challenge her ideas.

If you were educated beyond high school, showed too much smarts or opinionated, you had no chance in her organization. I was stunned!

Then, it was hard to believe that this individual would deliberately seek out low-skilled, ‘yes’ folks for her business. I didn’t expect that kind of thinking at that level

Well, I’m way past the initial shock because I’ve seen this thought pattern displayed in various ways in the corporate world. Instances where entrepreneurs and business leaders stifle sharp minds due to the leader’s insecurities – abound.

There’s a downside though. These leaders forfeit the benefits of good feedback which in turn hinders business growth. In such organizations, innovation is rare because the atmosphere is designed to frustrate it.

A leader’s insecurities should be properly managed to avoid the alienation of brilliant minds. This is vital because in the face of current business challenges, you need all the mental ‘firepower’ you can find.

Startup Tip: Keep It Simple

IMG_1362-waechter-guardians-of-time-guards-contemporary-art-arts-arte-design-sculpture-statue-light-art-installation-show-fair-manfred-kielnhofer-kiliAn idea is a living thing – it has a life of its own and a starting point. Finding the right start is the entrepreneur’s challenge.

It’s a challenge because startup excitement often makes it hard for entrepreneurs to recognize simple steps in the startup process.

Every idea can be broken down into simple steps – and ideas evolve from stage to stage. This principle brings ease to the entrepreneur’s effort.

Find a simple start. For instance, you don’t have to rent out the traditional office space, a virtual office could do for now. Irrelevant business practices are traps. They make the new venture tedious. Avoid them.

Fortunately, we’re in the 21st century. Communication is cheap, the internet is effective and social media has slashed the cost of advertising and marketing. It’s a great time to start anything – on a simple note and still make a decent profit.

For starters, keep your business framework simple, flexible and change friendly because the startup is genetically designed for growth.

Should Every Idea Be Sold?

Forming Attachments Layers Merged 750My first book will never be published.

It’s a manuscript of over 34000 words written within a 30day burst of inspiration – many years ago. It was my first attempt at a full-length book and I don’t want it commercialized. It’s for me, not the public.

At first, I thought I wanted it published, but later realized that I didn’t want to share it. Apparently, this behavior isn’t unusual; creative minds – writers, artists and songwriters – experience it.

The Vault is where the profusely creative singer/songwriter, Prince, stores some of his works. BBC reported that, “…if Prince was to die tomorrow, he has so much unreleased music, he could release an album a year for the next 100years…” He records and simply puts them away.

What’s his plan? We’re not sure. He’s in no hurry to make them public – we may never hear the works. But the songs are finished and kept away.

In the creative process, you’ll discover ideas that are just for you and for some reason you feel no pressure to share. It’s okay to share these ideas when you’re ready and if you don’t want to, it’s fine.

Say it: “I Was Wrong”

contemporary-artworkIn certain communities, getting older means that you’re supposed to know ‘everything’- it’s an unwritten rule, a common notion.

It’s worse if you’re an elder or a leader, folks get shocked if you show that you don’t know – you’re expected to know. It’s shameful not to know.

Sadly, the ‘know-all’ attitude doesn’t work well with people today. Folks are smarter, more sophisticated and exposed than you think – and can easily call you out on your bullshit. It’s hard to manipulate people these days; they see right through your act.

Hence, if for some reason you were wrong, made a poor judgment, messed up or missed it in anyway, your best bet would be to own up and admit you were out of line.

As a CEO, it’s now harder to lord it over your management team. In the 21st century, effective leadership entails that you get comfortable with admitting your mistakes and then seeking ways to make amends.

You don’t know it all – not even with Google at your disposal. On that note, you’ll make mistakes; we all know that you will – and that’s OK!

Do I Follow My Dreams Or Keep My Real Job?

Van-Gogh-Paintings-10Or: Are you living in fear?

That’s the real question.

Fear is a dominant factor in the life of many adults and its power to regulate decisions and actions is profound.

I’m not entirely for the ‘just-do-it’ school of thought because sometimes you have to scheme your way out of certain limitations in order to step into your dream. Neither am I for over-planning; there are times you just have to jump in. Rather, my concern is this: is fear keeping you where you are?

Fear can make you quit a great job and pursue your dream at the wrong time. Also, it can make you stay too long on your job and miss the right timing for your goals.

So for now, you probably need a job – stay the course and do great work. Or, it’s time to follow your dream – then make the moves. But don’t stay anywhere due to fear and if you are, start plotting your way out.

Fear is blinding, but once you assess and confront it, you’ll start to see exactly what you’re supposed to do.