ENTREPRENEURS, MANAGERS, LEADERS: DO YOU HAVE A PROFESSIONAL PARTNER?

When the environment changes so do our attitudes, perceptions and actions, but not always at the same pace. The current economic climate is transforming the labor market in permanent ways.  For example, in countries that were enjoying growth and stability until 2008, the realization that a full time, well-compensated job may be a thing of the past is only now starting to sink in the collective mindset.

I’ve lived and worked in countries where a full time job was out of the question, decades ago.  In those markets, people adopted an entrepreneurial mindset more naturally.  In countries like Spain, this is the “flavor of the month” and the word “Entrepreneur” is dominating social media as well as other traditional conversation spacess like universities, financial institutions, and even reality TV.

The argument is that even with economic recovery expected in the near future, many long-term unemployed (or soon to be, as companies continue to apply restructuring measures), will have to resort to new ways of making a living.  Assuming that someone has transformed their mental “operating system” to face this reality, the next step is to undertake serious research to identify opportunities for successful products and services, either through innovation or differentiation.

But experience shows that coming up with great ideas is only the beginning.  The new Entrepreneur has to deal with the complexity of executing the idea and transform it into a viable, efficient and adaptable business structure.  And even when this is accomplished, managing a business and leading employees to fulfill a vision on a daily, consistent basis, poses challenges and issues that were not originally considered.

Failure is often regarded as a key component of the Entrepreneur’s DNA, because it develops resilience and sharpens the ability to analyze, review, recover and re-launch.  But the frustration that people face when the only remaining alternative to make money fails, disappoints and discourages in a brutal way.

I applaud the efforts of many organizations and institutions, private and public, to stimulate the change of mindset and invite people to become Entrepreneurs.  However, with few exceptions, not everyone is fully aware of the many different elements that come into play when choosing this path.

Turning a good idea into a viable business requires more than positive energy and commitment.  One needs to acquire additional skills and competencies to successfully cover all the steps, and these cannot be always learned in a traditional setting.

To evolve from an Entrepreneur to a Business Owner, one needs to be at least familiar with some of the critical processes of running a business: financial planning, budgets, accounting, sales and distribution, marketing and branding, production and operations, people management and leadership.  Without past professional experience in these disciplines, the new business owner has to find practical solutions that can be implemented quickly, and compensate these gaps of knowledge and competence.

The good news is that the same economic downturn that creates millions of unemployed workers willing to take the challenge of creating a business, has also developed a strong network of Professional Services Providers that can partner with these individuals to formulate winning strategies and realistic action plans.

This becomes evident in at least two examples of new reality TV shows that uncover the many dilemmas of launching a new business: “Código Emprende” in the public Spanish television, and “The Profit”, in the US business themed channel CNBC.

The common theme in these shows is the concept of “Partnering” the business owners with professionals who understand the underlying issues of managing and leading, as well as with other successful peers who have a good track record in turning good ideas into well performing companies.

What becomes evident in these shows is that not everyone is ready to go into business even withgood ideas or concepts that can, potentially, attract a steady flow of customers, sales and profits.  In my own conversations with people who try to become an Entrepreneur, as well as those already in management or leadership positions in established companies, I see opportunities to better explain the potential of a Partnering with a professional.

This is why my practice includes at least three of the key professional partnership services that are in demand today: Coaching, Consulting and Training.  Common in all three areas is the process by which an objective, neutral party can provide new perspectives, uncover potential and encourage actions towards developing more efficient and productive behaviors.

Another advantage of Partnering is the speed at which solutions can be found and applied to the business, the team and the leader.  And while there is some resistance from new or established business owners to seek an effective Professional Partner, sometimes due to the perception of how much it costs, another way to frame the issue can be: What is the cost of NOT doing so?