There are a number of perceptions around business success that warrant a closer look, so this month I thought we’d take a look at a particular pattern that three of the most successful people in business history have used that we can also model for ourselves in our own business growth:
One of the world’s wealthiest men was Andrew Carnegie. In fact, in 1901, his wealth was estimated at 480 million dollars (consider this value in today’s markets?).
As we take a closer look, however, Andrew Carnegie was thought to have a natural genius for business. As America’s dominant steel industrialist, he actually claimed to know very little about the steel industry. What he did claim though, was knowledge of some very basic principles for business.
What Carnegie was very good at was being able to surround himself with a team of experts. One of these experts being a gentleman called Henry Bessemer – a steel-making expert. He was also surrounded by other experts in sales, manufacturing and distribution.
Interestingly enough Carnegie openly promoted his industrial success to placing the right people in the right positions, suggesting his epitaph to be “Here lies a man who was able to surround himself with men far cleverer than himself.”
John D Rockefeller:
John D. Rockefeller could be considered to be the single most important figure in the foundation of the oil industry. Originally founding Standard Oil in 1870, he built it into one of the world’s first and largest multinational corporations. Through this industry, Rockefeller became a billionaire and eventually the world’s richest man. Again when we look a little deeper we see that this oil fortune was partly a result of various business decisions made by Henry Flagler who helped put Standard Oil in a position to outcompete other oil refineries. Rockefeller also had a dozen other expert senior executives working for him.
Probably the best known example on this theme is Henry Ford who was well known for attributing his success to not knowing how to do things himself but to knowing people who could. To that end Ford surrounded himself with a team of experts who were as passionate about his business as he was. It was actually one of these experts, William Klann, who brought the assembly line into Ford Motor Company after viewing the “disassembly line” of a Chicago slaughterhouse where animals were butchered as they moved along a conveyor. Ford’s main business attributes may be put down to extreme discipline in meeting his customer’s demand combined with a laser like focus whilst always remaining open to diverse ideas from his expert team from other industries.
So How Can We Utilise This Effectively In Our Own Businesses?
In my own career, I have had the pleasure of working with many business owners who have also exceeded their initial business potential by surrounding themselves with people who were much more skilled than themselves in various areas of their business. I’ve also worked with business owners who achieved a certain degree of business success … and then reached a ceiling in their business which could be attributed to their fear of letting their business grow beyond them. A simple analogy to this would be trying to drive your car faster with the handbrake on at the same time!
Another side to this can also be the team member who desperately wants to put their skills to better use within a business but are continually reined back by their manager or business owner. The ultimate result? The business owner loses an extremely valuable team member (possibly directly to their competition!).
So what’s the benefit to the business owner? Well, the business owner will continue to perform as it always has – with the business always a reflection of them.
What’s the main drawback to the business? The business growth will likely be limited as the ‘expert’ team members will get frustrated by these limitations and explore their talents further somewhere else.
As a business owner one method to start to exceed your business potential would be to learn from our three ‘Mentors’ featured above and realise that when you have the courage to surround yourself with the very best and brightest people AND you give them the freedom to learn your business quickly (allowing them to ‘fail’ and learn from their mistakes) … then you will reap the rewards of a business that is not just more empowering and more profitable than you would have created yourself, but also much easier to manage at the same time.
You may be wondering how to find, keep, and motivate your team of experts?
1. Be Prepared To Invest In Your Team.
Carefully invest your time and money to find, recruit and train the best team members you can find for their respective roles within your industry.
2. Keep Refining Your Team.
Through team systemisation (we’ll cover this another time) you’ll be able to performance manage your team members, re-address your weaker team members and continuously strengthen your business. This should always be a continuously evolving process.
3. Empower Your Team.
What do you need to do to empower your team to work harder and smarter than they’ve ever worked for anyone else? Your expert team will need a challenge AND be willing to accept fair feedback to ensure the business stays on target.
4. It’s Not Always About The Money.
Most top performing team members are motivated by more than money – pay them well – and on performance / bonus. Most will love the challenge this presents.
Exceptional business results will nearly always follow some simple basic business patterns. What can you implement within your own business from a business concept implemented by three of the most successful business owners of our time?
To Your Success,