How To Deal With The Struggles of Business
Every entrepreneur starts a company with a clear vision for success. You will create an amazing environment and hire the smartest people to join you. Together you will build a beautiful product that delights customers and makes the world just a little bit better. It’s going to be
Then, after working night and day to make your vision a reality, you wake up to find that things did not go as planned. Your company did not unfold like you planned. Your product has issues that will be very hard to fix. The market isn’t quite where it was supposed to be. Your employees are losing confidence, and some of them have quit. Where did you go wrong?
As your dreams turn into nightmares, you find yourself in the Struggle. The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place. The Struggle is when people ask you why you don’t quit, and you don’t know the answer. The Struggle is when your employees
think you are lying, and you think they may be right. The Struggle is when you know that you are in over your head, and you know that you cannot be replaced. The Struggle is not failure, but it causes failure. Especially if you are weak.
The Struggle is where greatness comes from. There is no answer to the Struggle, but here are some things that might help:
Don’t put it all on your shoulders. You won’t be able to share every burden, but share every burden that you can. Get the maximum number of brains on the problems even if the problems represent existential threats.
This is not checkers; this is chess. Businesses tend to be extremely complex. The underlying business moves, the competition moves, the market moves, the people move. As a result, there is always a move.
Play long enough and you might get lucky. In the business game, tomorrow looks nothing like today. If you survive long enough to see tomorrow, it may bring you the answer that seems so impossible today.
Don’t take it personally. The predicament that you are in is probably all your fault. You hired the people. You made the decisions. But evaluating yourself and giving yourself an F doesn’t help.
Remember that this is what separates the women from the girls. If you want to be great, this is the challenge. If you don’t want to be great, then you never should have started a company.
Be Transparent. As the highest-ranking person in the company, you think that you are best able to handle bad news. The opposite is true; nobody takes bad news harder than you. If things go
horribly wrong, others can walk away, but you can’t. As a consequence, employees handle losses much better. There are three key reasons why being transparent about your company’s problems makes sense:
- Trust. Without trust, communication breaks. As a company grows, communication becomes its biggest challenge. Telling things as they are is a critical part of building this trust. A CEO’s ability to build this trust over time is often the difference between companies that execute well and companies that are chaotic.
- The more brains working on the hard problems, the better. In order to build a great company you have to hire lots of incredibly smart people. It’s a total waste to have lots of big brains but not let them work on your biggest problems.
- A good culture is like the old RIP routing protocol: Bad news travels fast; good news travels slow. If you investigate companies that have failed, you will find that many employees knew about the fatal issues long before those issues killed the company. Too often the company culture discouraged the spread of bad news, so the knowledge lay dormant until it was too late to act. If you run a company, you will experience overwhelming psychological pressure to be overly positive. Stand up to the pressure, face your fear and tell it like it is.