I. Businessman. (Part 4)
Thinking like a businessman is a tough ask for most professionals. The training, grooming and experience we gather on the way in our careers, turns us into gentlemen (or ‘gentlewomen’) rather than business owners.
Here’s an important thing I learned about thinking like a businessman.
Learning No: 6
‘Lalas’ Rule the world
A ‘Lala businessman’ is the loose term used in India for a promoter who drives an organization hands on, focused only on profits.
The only thing that matters at the end of the day is whether the business has generated any money or not.
Nobody likes them. Nobody wants to work in such an organization.
The funny thing is that, around the world, every successful organization has some form of a ‘Lala’ at the top. However professional they may seem, however employee focused they may be, the fact is that it takes a particular line of thought to be able to succeed in business.
The level of sophistication may vary, the method of execution may vary, the kind of processes followed by the organization may vary, but at the core, the thinking is the same.
‘How can they be the same?’ you may ask. Here are a few examples:
- The Corporate: Facebook is killing our employee productivity. Let’s ask the HR department to develop a company policy that prohibits you from logging on to your Facebook account while at work. The repercussions could be disciplinary action, all the way up to termination of the employee’s services.
- The ‘Lala’: Facebook is killing my team’s employee productivity. Let me threaten to throw out anyone, immediately, if I find them using Facebook in office.
- Performance Tracking:
- The Corporate: Let’s review an employee’s performance over a quarter through a sophisticated performance tracker. Non-performers will be weeded out through a performance appraisal process.
- The Lala: I will review the employee’s performance job by job, personally. Non-performers would be fired without any fanfare.
- Fighting competition:
- The Corporate: Let me call my lawyers, we need to exploit loopholes in the law to ‘screw their happiness’.
- The Lala: Let me call my friend, the local police constable, to find a way to ‘screw their happiness’.
- Profit Margins:
- The Corporate: We need to find a way to increase our profitability by headcount optimization.
- The Lala: We need a higher profits. Let’s throw out the non performers.
Different execution. Same thinking.
If you decide to start off on your own, you would need to think and work like a ‘Lala’. You don’t need to BE a ‘Lala’. You need to think like one.
Remember, that at the end of the day, the reason you’re running a business is to make profits. It is not a charity. If people are not performing, they must be pulled up, given an ultimatum and replaced.
You need to realize that in business, personal relationships count for nothing. This is not a popularity contest. Nor is it a means for you to help out someone in need. You cannot compromise your business in order to look good in front of your team or friends.
Your head would need to rule your heart (it’s really tough I promise you) and you would need to have the ability to take cold calculated decisions, even if it makes you appear to be cruel and insensitive.
Your employees would brand you ‘the scrooge’ in the office… someone who is obsessed with the profit margin, never satisfied with anything, always demanding more, never happy, always nit-picking and finding fault with them.
You would need to develop the ability to fire people. People, who will probably share their sob stories when you’re firing them, making you feel like a worm for throwing them out.
And you would need to live with that.
If you don’t think you have it in you to behave like this, then maybe business is not for you.
Stick to your job. You’ll be happier there.
TO BE CONTINUED…
(This is part 4 of a series of blogs on my learnings as an entrepreneur )
Read Part 5 here