Call us on 1300 794 893

Small Business

Leadership tips and traps – lessons from Playboy

| More

Leadership in business comes down to vision, but a lot of it is also chalked up to motivation. In small business, it’s all too easy to get lost in the daily grind, to forget where you’re going because you’re too caught up in what you’re doing.

Previously, we looked to Jay Conrad Levinson, one of the greatest modern-day marketing gurus and business greats. Levinson said masters in business are masters in the art of delegating, and that ‘amateurness’ – a word coined by Levinson and one few would want applied to their business – is doing things yourself when you should have someone better doing them for you.

Sure, when you start out in business money is tight and shelling out for help is often a hip-pocket hit you think you can’t afford. But it’s important that you consider the real cost of being an all-singing, all-dancing, one-man (or one-woman) band.

First, you lose focus. You get so tied up in working in your business you don’t have the perspective (let alone the time) to work on your business.

Second, you’re not that great. Hear me out on this one. You’ll find you end up being a jack of all trades and a master of none, that you have little time or energy to work to your strengths in order to grow your business.

The best business leaders know what they don’t know; they play to their strengths and put measures – or people – in place to compensate for their weaknesses. Levinson worked for Playboy magazine when it first kicked off, and it was around the board table at the infamous Mansion where he learnt this business lesson. When one of my journos interviewed the American marketing great, Levinson described Hefner as the “least talented person” he’d ever met in this life.

So, how did Hefner build such an empire?

“He knew he didn’t have any taste in literature so he hired people who had good taste,” explained Levinson. “He knew he knew nothing about art so he hired people who exercised judgement in art and photography.”

The most important thing about surrounding yourself with such resources is to lean on them; to make the most of them to support your business.

“At meetings, the thing [Hefner] said most of all was, ‘What do you think?’ He didn’t have talent but he recognised his limitations and that’s why he became so successful.”

Sometimes it can be hard to be aware of your own limitations, but it’s better to face up to your own shortcomings rather than sell your business short.

I often write about the importance of doing a SWOT analysis – an honest stocktake of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – not just on your business, but yourself.

So, take a moment to SWOT yourself and pay particular attention to your weaknesses. As you do this, you need to look at the opportunities that stem from these weaknesses.

If staying up-to-date with the books is a weakness, contracting a financial controller may not only save you money, but plenty of headaches.

Or if you’re spending too much time on the shop floor, perhaps the answer is to employ a part-timer who will free you up for a couple of days a week to work on winning new business.

Or perhaps you take on too much, and in an effort to do it all you get nothing done? This is where you need to break each thing you do down – task by task – and cost-evaluate them. There’s no point you doing a job you consider worth $15 an hour instead of another worth $150 an hour! Get delegating.

Levinson made light of a classic trap – if you look to save money in your marketing, often it ends up costing you a lot more. But a word of warning: it’s also important not to be too tight when it comes to sourcing talent. If you hire a shoddy photographer or go with design that’s – to borrow Levinson’s term – ‘amateurness’, people will assume that’s the way you run your business. After all, there’s little point spending money on something that’s going to do more harm than good to your business.

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Wednesday, October 06, 2010

blog comments powered by Disqus