The often artificial distinction between a “corporate” work style and the more fanciful “start-up” style is at least an entertaining way to evaluate the potential for productivity. The archetypal imagery dates back to at least the 1970s, when the proto-tech work ethic was just coming into conflict with the way their fathers did things. Probably the most famous example of this contrast was Apple vs. IBM, which culminated in one of the most famous television commercials of all time.
That said, the “corporate” way of doing things has its advantages. Were it not at least somewhat effective, the counterculture movement would have had no opponent by which to measure its achievements.
One thing corporations do with tremendous consistency is document everything. While this can often result in a lot of paper with very little of value printed on it, the practice of reducing institutional knowledge to a form that can be stored, indexed and referenced later is useful and does add to the resiliency and strength of any company, even if it may only have a handful of employees.
It sounds boring, but the practice of “making everything the same” suits a lot of companies that might otherwise careen from one distraction to another in the course of a work day. Making money is a mechanical thing. It is rarely creative, and even if a windfall results from some whimsical idea, corporations will immediately lock it down into something that can be replicated on a regular basis so bills can get paid and shareholders can hit their share price targets and get their dividends.
Even though there are voluminous examples of corporations so large they can’t keep track of what they own, there are plenty of other examples of enterprises that know how to exploit their assets. Large companies with brilliant employees almost always have some method of recognizing patentable technologies, works that are eligible for copyright, and so forth. This is crucial for small companies, as even one valuable IP asset could make the difference between success and failure.
Corporate culture has its place in industry, to be sure. The key is to find the balance between entrepreneurial energy and big company stability. Properly managed, those two complementary forces can help guide a company through its entire growth cycle and secure its value for both its founders and future shareholders.
While all entrepreneurs are business owners, the reverse cannot be true. There’s a unique mindset that defines an entrepreneur, which sets him apart from the majority of established business owners. By taking the time to understand these traits, it’s easier to understand what it really takes to achieve success as a beginning entrepreneur.
Motivated by Passion
All entrepreneurs are motivated by the passion they feel for their particular product or service. An entrepreneur cares about his product, or service, while average business owners are more concerned with the profit their business can produce.
A Different Perspective
While all business owners seek to fulfill a need, the entrepreneur is more concerned with identifying a need that people have yet to acknowledge. By offering an item that will fulfill a future need, entrepreneurs position themselves to be a greater success.
Exploiting Personal Potential
Another advantage that the entrepreneur possesses is the drive to live up to their potential. In fact, many entrepreneurs strive to exceed their potential in all areas of their lives. They learn as much as they can, expose themselves to new situations, and network with professionals from a broad range of fields.
Choosing the Right People
An entrepreneur is only as good as the people with whom he associates and that includes his own staff. By selecting energetic, talented, and passionate individuals, entrepreneurs bring vast resources together to help him succeed. Selecting the right people, who possess positive attitudes, can help the entrepreneur realize his vision more effectively.
Change goes against human nature, which is why most people resist even the smallest changes. However, a successful entrepreneur must embrace change and look for ways to exploit change. Whether you expect it or not, change will always be a part of life, especially in business. By anticipating change and adapting to new circumstances, entrepreneurs can use change to boost their success.
Perseverance is Vital
Starting your own business isn’t easy. It requires long hours and hard work, but, even after you put in that much work, you may still experience setbacks. The key to success isn’t just about the wins. It’s also about bouncing back, after setbacks, and meeting challenges with a determination to overcome them.
While anyone interested in business ownership needs certain resources at their disposal, entrepreneurs seeking to carve out a new niche for themselves need something more. These traits are common among many successful entrepreneurs and provide a template for those interested in creating their own business.
Some people are eager to answer in the affirmative no matter what the inquiry is. Maybe you’re a people-pleaser, or just like taking on new tasks for the experience. While both of these approaches to life can yield many benefits, it’s important to ask yourself certain questions before agreeing to any commitments.
What will it cost?
When friends are asking for favors or a colleague is making a request at work, you probably often think that you are obligated to do it. However, you need to ask yourself what it will cost you. Taking a friend to the airport could lead to traffic delays and a rush to work in the morning. Taking on a colleague’s work project could lead to an unfair hourly wage. While surrendering time and money once in awhile might be worth it, you need to know what you’re getting into, each time.
Can it be reasonably followed through?
Thinking before answering is important because it prevents you from making commitments that they realistically cannot keep. People who keep a planner or frequently-updated calendar may be better suited to answer such requests. You can look to see what you have going on that day and assess if fitting in another commitment is possible. It’s better to say no now than to agree and have to break the agreement later, which just makes you look bad and unreliable.
Is the request reasonable?
In addition to knowing if the request can be fulfilled, you must also know if the request itself is reasonable. For example, if someone is asking to borrow a large sum of money, you could decline but offer a smaller sum. Keeping in mind that it is also possible to negotiate with the requester is often an important component of these conversations. And, just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.
Is there a reason for it?
Questioning the purpose of any request is important. Some people constantly try to shove their responsibilities off on others, and this situation does not elicit a reason to agree. In other cases, you might get some personal gain from exploring a new opportunity, or you may really alleviate a one-time burden that a loved one is feeling. Those are much more valid reasons and ones you probably feel comfortable with.
Saying yes sometimes is useful. However, the word “no” exists for a reason, and you are free to use it when your assessment of the request doesn’t line up with your time and schedule.
About Graham Zahoruiko
ORANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS LEADER FOR GREATER CORPORATE SHAREHOLDER WEALTH, PUBLIC BENEFIT AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Graham Zahoruiko is a transformational growth leader with over 25 years of entrepreneurial C-Level leadership experience. His objective is to help companies unlock unprecedented growth and increase shareholder value, while delivering an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) that far exceeds the cost of any restructuring or reorganization. He does this by delivering a highly polished “game changing” solution strategy, executable materials, and team mentoring throughout the implementation phase.
The key foundational element of any organization is the right culture. When precisely positioned, the right company values and work environment lead to independent, empowered, self-reflective teams that have both the initiative and the capability to drive new revenue sources, generate higher profitability, and lower operational costs.
The assignments Graham Zahoruiko takes on vary widely based on the specific needs of the companies he works for, but some examples include: interim leadership; positioning and executing an initiative or project; cultural improvements; project and process management; leadership development; growth initiatives; cost efficiencies and improvements; personal career performance coaching; innovation modeling; entrepreneurship; and mentoring.
For a number of years, Graham Zahoruiko has contemplated how he can do the work that he loves but continue to add more purpose, meaning and value. Consultants tend to push harder and harder on the obsession for long-term value for clients.
Combining meaningful work and a meaningful “public benefit” certainly would be ideal. Near and dear to Graham Zahoruiko has always been family, children and disadvantaged. As a background in organizational effectiveness, change management and transformation ideally prepares one for leading through change, Graham is the Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Public Benefit Corporation (www.oepbc.org). Organizational Effectiveness, Public Benefit Corporation delivers high value project-based management consulting services for greater corporate shareholder wealth, public benefit and social responsibility. Organizational Effectiveness, Public Benefit Corporation’s own advocacy efforts focus on families, children and disadvantaged.
While working for a multi-billion dollar energy company, Graham proposed and led an effort to transform a $160 million dollar division with 750 employees and its 4th C-level leader in 5 years from a “cost center” into a “growth center”.
The implementation of this plan involved several key shifts, both in mindset and operation. The first step was the launch of a new culture through the development of a “Cultural Playbook”, which promoted a more innovative generation of employees empowered with the skills and ability to lead the company into a future of unprecedented growth. Graham Zahoruiko also conceptualized, developed, and implemented a QBR (Quarterly Business Review) program and accompanying materials for all senior leaders, resulting in a more consistent reporting format that improved corporate communication, business line health, and tracking mechanisms for leader reviews. This program increased shareholder value by $731 million. Graham also created a C-level leadership presentation for the CEO and Board on the subject of “game changing – change the lens/perspective of thinking” which outlined “the pitch, the proof and the value” of a $1 billion investment. This new thinking derived a 59% IRR, a significant impact on the organization’s P/E Ratio, and a $3.4 billion increase in shareholder value.
When working with a $250 million healthcare company, Graham Zahoruiko found the organization with a global business division comprised of over 350 hands-on IT professionals with expertise in cloud technologies, networking, applications hosting, storage, and disaster recovery. The $60 million division was facing declining revenue.
After rebuilding morale and mentoring the team on leadership and entrepreneurship, Graham helped improve gross margins by up to 40%, and net margins by 17% (12% to 29%) with the addition of $20 million in new revenue bookings. Operations were restructured through offshore centralization, and processes were formalized for the prevention of future revenue and cost leakages. The sales pipeline subsequently grew from $0 to $110M.
Graham Zahoruiko also led the formation a Cloud Software Services sub-business unit, and re-positioned aging software IP into a new offering centered on healthcare data access archiving, reducing ongoing client legacy software costs by 80%. The new release resulted in $15M in revenue opportunity and a recurring revenue stream. The company’s subsequent operating plan focused on continued margin improvement, better client value, innovation, and long-term sustainability of continued revenue growth.
Leveraging very early roots as a repeat start-up entrepreneur, Graham Zahoruiko is an independent management consultant helping leaders improve shareholder value through strategic improvements and transformations in culture, entrepreneurship, innovation, and growth. He has a talent for balancing the business and financial impact of decisions with the people side of the equation.
Northeastern University (Business Management): 1996
Saint John’s Preparatory (General Studies): 1990
Boy Scouts of America (Eagle Scout Award): 1987