06/07/2014:

Small Business Mentoring (Part 1)

Everybody thinks they want to be Warren Buffet, or at least to have a close approximation of his personal wealth. He is the favorite poster boy for every self-styled, rags-to-riches, guaranteed, you-can-trust-me, success guru and motivational speaker currently in vogue.

Reality check: none of us are, or ever will be Mr. Buffet.  Unfortunately, relatively few of us have Mr. Buffet’s God-given talent to retain and process complex business information, the coolness under pressure that allows him to make consistently rational, calculated business decisions based on facts rather than emotion, or his obvious drive as a young man to succeed in the business world. And sadder yet, most of us would not take the time, the effort, or the shear drudgery necessary to become an imitation Warren Buffet, even if we could.

Most of us set our sights considerably lower. 

Regardless of whether the small business owner has delusions of grandeur or not, they are not afraid of hard work; to own a small business is to work hard and to work long hours, often 18-hour workdays. Rarely do they have a full weekend off.  Even when the business, itself, is not open for business, the business owner is still doing the many other tasks necessary to participate in commerce in our complex world:

•  Planning and Strategy
•  Government Regulatory Compliance (federal and state business licensing, employment, worker safety laws, etc.)
•  Fulfilling Orders and Customer Service
•  Communications (Answering emails, etc.)
•  Handling Finance and Accounting
•  Business Governance (i.e., setting standards and priorities for the business operation)
•  Marketing and/or Networking the Business
•  Working with Technology
•  Stocking Supplies and/or Vendor Management
•  Legal (i.e., various kinds of liability and other business insurance, writing and reading contracts and proposals, etc.)
•  Travel to Customer’s Site and Business-Related Forums
•  Managing Employees and Training

And if the business is a Service Company, the business owner is very likely also providing the actual service, or taking-on the role of either front-line supervisor or front-line manager. In other words, everything that any other business needs to do, except with less of everything-and then some.

The problem for the small business owner is not whether they are willing to work hard, but whether they are willing to learn how to work SMART.  And whether they are willing to put aside the unrealistic expectation that the hard work ever stops.

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