Many years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I had a major problem . . . I couldn’t get quality help to save my life. I’m not just talking about just quality employees; I had issues finding vendors that could deliver on time and with minimal issues as well. Even getting help in stores or at a restaurant left me less then satisfied. Could it be that everyone around me was simply incompetent?
Way back when, I used to own a pick-up and delivery dry cleaning business, but I outsourced all the actual dry cleaning. Over a two-year period I went through three different cleaners. I actually would have left the third cleaner as well, but I couldn’t find another cleaner that I liked enough to even consider switching from the one I only kinda disliked. And let’s not even get me started on employees. Again, back in my dry cleaning days I seemed to have to find a new route driver every 6 to 9 months. Door to door marketers wouldn’t last a week. Was everyone around me actually incompetent?
It’s Not You, It’s Me
One day, after a rash of “challenges” with vendors, employees, etc., I wondered to myself, “Why is everyone so incompetent? Can I really be the only one who ‘gets it?’” As I pondered this, I came to two obvious conclusions . . .
- The idea that everyone else around me is incompetent is an incredibly cocky idea
- Maybe the problem isn’t everyone else; maybe the problem is me . . .
After a lot of self-evaluation, I did conclude that I was, in fact, the problem. Not an easy thing to admit at the time. I micromanaged my people, my vendors, everyone. When a mistake was made, I was quick to point out everyone else’s errors and slow to admit to my own. Overall, I was difficult to work with. It’s taken me years but I have changed drastically.
95% of the entrepreneurs I work with and know today have either never had this problem or have already solved it, but roughly 5% of entrepreneurs I know have not solved this problem.
Are you part of the 5%?
I recently had to fire a client because no matter what we did as company, we couldn’t make them happy. We would make what they considered a minor “mistake” and you would think we had just kicked their dog. On the other hand, the client would make a major mistake and find a way to turn the tables and blame us. I am not going to sit here and tell you that we never make mistakes, but we are happy, as a company, to own up, apologize, and fix our mistakes. This client didn’t want to own his mistakes.
This particular former client is pretty successful in the grand scheme of things, but they are drastically limiting their overall success. They’ve hit a ceiling in their business and they can’t figure out why. I can see the problem plain as day and my guess is that their employees and other vendors can see it too, but no one would dare say anything for fear of the wrath that would come down upon them.
Keys to Success!
My most successful clients are completely different. They value the opinion of experts and, like all other successful people, seek out those opinions as well as the experts’ help. The most successful people invest in employee training and empower their employees to make the correct decisions. When an employee makes a mistake, they don’t come down on them like a ton of bricks, they help the employee learn from the mistake so they can do better next time.
My most successful clients collaborate to innovate and aren’t interested in being the smartest people in the room . . . I think many of them prefer to be one of the least smartest people in the room, so they can learn from everyone else.
Finally, one other trait I see that many of my most successful friends and clients have in common is that they are introspective and are always looking to improve themselves.
If you are part of the 5% I won’t sit here and tell you that changing habits, no longer micro managing, and learning to trust others is easy, but it is possible. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but if you are committed to growth and being a better you, you’ll put in the hard work to make those changes happen. Once you do I promise, not only will life and business both be more fun, but you will be happier, the people around you will be happier, and you will earn more money.
The choice is yours.