The Effective Entrepreneur

The above headline is my play on Peter F. Drucker’s landmark writing, The Effective Executive (1967 Harper & Row). Just as Mr. Drucker was ahead of his time in the ideas of management, as well as what the executive of the modern era needed to both know and understand. The times that ushered in those ideas and philosophical dictates are being once again echoed and, it will be the adaptation of these insights that will extend forward the needed cohesion for today’s entrepreneurial successes.

From the solo practitioner, all the way to the boardroom members of the latest trans-continental conglomerates there seems to be not only a gap, rather that gap seems to be growing ever wider as to resemble chasms. And not from some new unknowns. Rather, it’s from both sides digging deeper entrenchments.

It’s as if each side vaguely understands there is something to be gained from the other. Yet, acts as if whatever it may be, it’s either old or irrelevant to their needs. Both are horribly mistaken in my view.

One can not grow or maintain a viable business in today’s ever-changing business climate without having both feet firmly planted in a mound made up of scoops taken from both the entrepreneur side, as well as the executive or management pile. Regardless of size or stature.

One without the other will be worse than trying to build sand castles near the water’s edge at low tide. For a brief time the footing feels solid and the walls feel firm giving confidence as they keep the forces of ruin at bay. However, the forces of the bay will eventually overtake any for-drawn conclusions of confidence right out to sea with a never-ending barrage of new waves.

Just look at any retailer, technology, or media company today. Balance sheets, retail locations, readership/viewership, cost of entry, and more were once heralded as near insurmountable obstacles less than a decade ago. Today? These once intimidating mountains are not even viewed in the same light as a mole hill. Now, they’re no more than speed bumps. And that is being kind.

Navigating within this new framework is not something to take lightly. It’s serious business with serious dollars at stake. Both in the accumulation of sales and profits that can rocket exponentially in a heartbeat, backed with the possibilities of fatal losses of both equity and/or market share just as rapidly. Let alone any personal monetary exposure or damage of repute.

Think of today’s business environment in the light as to what the early explorers of yesteryear would need to relearn, know, or have access at their disposal if venturing off into the unknown today. Just what and how much of an overview and understanding would be needed or required?

If the venture were to search for new lands. Would only the skills and disciplines of let’s say a 1492’s Columbus be anything remotely necessary to strap him into a space capsule and launch to Mars and expect success? Of course not. Yet, many newly minted entrepreneurs as well as their counterparts in established corporate structures are viewing and acting in today’s business climate as if their skills or needs haven’t needed to change or adapt.

The traits needed of the person in my hypothetical venture such as: bravery, willingness to face unknowns, survival instincts, the ability to lead, and more would be needed in spades today, just as they were needed and present yesterday in Columbus. Yet, unless my fictional Columbus had a crash course or was proficient in computer skills and operation, the most likely outcome of the new venture would be – just a crash.

Today the business landscape is very much like the above example. We have in some ways begun to make today’s modern employee or executive rethink the term “work” or “company.” Along with, for some, an understanding of the need to head back full steam into entrepreneurship styled thinking. (Yes it’s an overstatement today but, it is something that will take on ever greater and greater momentum in my opinion.)

The effective entrepreneur of today (as well as tomorrow) will need far more than just the willingness (or the guts) to venture into the uncharted waters of being responsible for their own business lives or enterprises. What they’ll also need are skills along with the understanding of true executive management and effectiveness. Size and scale will be irrelevant. Knowing and learning will be just as important as the ability to read a ledger and understanding expenses, incomes, and net profits.

Just because as an entrepreneur you’ve developed some widget or service that creates so much buzz it’s deafening on your upcoming IPO. (initial public offering) Doesn’t mean you can’t blow that IPO marvel to smithereens in just as little (or even less) time than it took to create it. If you want confirmation to what I’m trying to express. Just look at most of today’s tech juggernauts.

Many entrepreneurs had to be restrained if not cut out all together from running the company they began as to save it from ruin or themselves. For others it was only after years where both the employees, as well as the board, and stock holders were comfortable as to let them once again take the reins. (a classic case of late is Google®)

Just being the creator, founder, and entrepreneur is not enough. Real effective management, as well as executive skills are what is and will be demanded of anyone serious in running a true business. Again, size be damned in my view. From solo-practitioner to the global conglomerate. Business – is business. Period.

Understanding the skills needed to both hire or fire are just as important as understanding a balance sheet and what it means. Knowing whether you should expand, contract, abandon, or acquire are skills that not only take some gut instincts, they also require effective management and/or executive skills as to help implement ones vision, along with articulating strategies and tactics.

Business and entrepreneurship never take a day off. It’s a way of life. Learning and growing is a never-ending constant improvement process also. The previously requisite of just honing ones skills was in many ways enough to hold one’s edge. That is no longer the case.

There is a need, if not outright demand for a deeper understanding of not only entrepreneurship, but rather how it all fits and works together with modern-day management at all levels of business.

A cursory understanding is not only insufficient – its perilous.

Recognizing this new age where modern-day effective management is no longer to be viewed as some dichotomy with entrepreneurship will lead the effective executives and their entrepreneurial brethren to heights far above the malaise we are now engaged in.

It will be the ones that not only recognize the strengths of the other but embrace and commingle those very strengths that will dominate the businesses of not only today – but the foreseeable future as well.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr