Business owners, entrepreneurs, CEOs… we all have certain personality traits, and most people won’t ever understand or empathise with us. When it comes to running the business, we’re the evil ones. It’s a hard truth of growing a business: for the most part, your staff, your family and your loved ones just won’t get it.
In this blog post, I’m breaking some harsh news to you: as a business owner, nobody will ever truly understand you or the decisions you make for your business. At least, no one except other business owners. Even then, they still aren’t ‘in’ it like you are. Only you can truly understand and appreciate why you do the things you do in your business.
Some of us may have ‘unusual methods’, some of us may be classed as eccentric, we may have mood swings and we’re often classed as bipolar or ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. One decision will never please all. One speech, policy or growth strategy won’t be taken seriously by all.
A bigger business means a bigger distance between you and your team
The bigger you become, the odds reduce on the number of people who will understand what you are trying to achieve with the business. When I had just one or two members of staff in the very early days, it was very easy for me to get across what I was trying to achieve. I felt like the team were with me on it, and we felt like a proper team. However, the more people, departments and personalities you accumulate in your business, the words that come out of your mouth resonate with fewer and fewer and fewer people.
That’s the reason why you have tiers of management in place: to try and amplify what you’re trying to say but in a less corporate-y, ‘evil boss’ type of way, from people with better people skills. Nor should you spend too much of your energy or time directly trying to get people to understand what you’re talking about. As business owners, we serve our team. It’s our decisions that will improve things (or destroy things), and that lies at our door.
Firing makes you unpopular
When it comes to firing people from the business, you can quickly become unpopular. In fact, everything that you say, email and communicate, every decision you make, everything you touch in your business – not everybody will agree, and it will make you more and more unpopular.
With everything that you do, there will be 80% of people who disagree and you lose brownie points; the other 20% will agree with you and think it’s great. However, the more and more you do things – decisions, policies, firing, hiring – it has its own momentum and compounding effect on people’s opinions of you as a boss.
For example, when you’re firing somebody, you’re breaking up friendships and alliances within the business, and nobody cares about your absolutely valid reason for making that decision. You’re not going to get people coming up to you going, ‘Totally agree with that. What a brilliant decision. Genius.’ You’re going to get people sulking. You’re going to get people who don’t get it, who don’t see what you see because they’re not privy to all the information that you have. They’re simply going to see that their friend is being ripped out of the business, which inevitably makes you less popular.
Accept office politics and don’t be a people-pleaser
Businesses these days try so hard to cultivate a happy and welcoming culture, but office politics are always there, and you just need to deal with it. You might be like me in the fact that I want people to like me. I really do. To think that someone might not like me because of a decision I’ve made, that upsets me – I don’t like that.
However, you need to be at one with the idea that nobody cares about why you’re making these decisions, otherwise your team will be the ones influencing those key decisions. You will avoid making decisions because you don’t want to upset the team. We try to be amicable as much as we can, but business is business and there will be a time where things have to be done.
So, not only are you going to be unpopular when you have to fire someone, when you have to fire yourself and you leave a hole in the work, resulting in you delegating it to someone else – that’s another reason for people disliking you.
Open, honest and transparent
By the way, I’m making it sound like everybody hates everybody, and that’s really not the case. In my business, I’m very lucky to have a really strong team who are all on the same page. What’s more, because of the open, honest and transparent way I’m running the business, everyone has an insight into how I want to do things anyway. There’ll be stuff that I do that people disagree with, I totally get that – but there is a layer of respect amongst my entire team.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re building a business but you want to remain popular and a friend to everyone… it will inevitably get to a stage where that’s physically impossible.
Tough decisions pay off in the end
However, it eventually all comes full circle. You have to make tough decisions and people will hate you for it, but after a while when they see that that was the right decision (and it takes longer for that kind of thing to feed through to the team), suddenly everything is forgotten. The business is performing well off the back of that decision and they may even get a pay rise as a result.
So, my key takeaway is this: you must be able to make tough decisions – and quickly.
The same goes for all decisions in business, and some will be bigger or smaller than others. For example, financing. You might realise you need a business loan, but you know that’s going to be a huge amount of debt on the balance sheet. However, you also know that, at the same time, it’s the way your business is going to survive. Plus, again, timing is everything. If you try it too late, you might not have the right credit rating, the debt has been called in and is irreparable, or your team is in trouble because the morale’s all over the place.
Your business could die or survive on the timings of those key decisions. And let’s be honest, hiring and firing the right staff is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in business. After all, your USP is your team.
Thank you for reading this chapter of the Diary of an Entrepreneur. I must stress, I’m not trying to teach you anything. I’m just sharing my journey, and if it motivates you, then great – job done!
If you want to hear more about my entrepreneurial journey, check out the Diary of an Entrepreneur podcast on all available platforms – I talk all things business in terms of my OWN journey and experience. It’s not one to miss!