When Your Time And Effort Aren’t Enough
Sometimes you work really hard on a project with your entrepreneur, put in lots of time and effort, but it still doesn’t work out. For whatever reason, it failed.
Your entrepreneur is upset because you didn’t get the result. “Yes,” you say, “but we worked late! We worked weekends!” But to your entrepreneur, that doesn’t matter, because you didn’t get the result. So neither side feels heard or that the other appreciates what really happened.
And that’s actually true: Neither side fully “gets it.”
The result is the point.
In an entrepreneurial environment, everyone’s focus has to be on the result. Of course it’s important to be strategic about the time and effort you put into projects, but what ultimately counts in the end is the result you produce.
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Here’s why: Entrepreneurs have crossed “the risk line” from the “Time-and-Effort Economy” to the “Results Economy.” For them, there’s no guaranteed income, no one writing them a paycheque every two weeks. They live by their ability to generate opportunity by creating value for their clientele. Sometimes, they—and you—will put in a lot of time and effort and get no result. Other times, they don’t put in much time and effort and get a big result. The focus for entrepreneurs always has to be on results or there’s no revenue coming in.
If you work for an entrepreneur, guess what! This is true for you, too. Though you probably have a guaranteed income, it’s important to understand that the business you work in exists inside The Results Economy, even if you’re sheltered somewhat from seeing that.
I say this not to make you feel insecure, but to show you how to succeed in this environment: by maximizing your results while minimizing the time and effort it takes to get them.
This is exciting. It means you get to be strategic about what you’re doing. And lots of great creative thinking can happen when you focus on using your talents to produce results effectively rather than focusing on how many hours and how much brute effort it took.
Educate your entrepreneur.
Now, I’m a huge fan of entrepreneurs appreciating their team’s efforts, because they often have no idea what it takes to make their ideas happen—all the time, resources, ingenuity, problem-solving, connecting the dots, creating systems, research, technology, production, and packaging. It’s no small thing to run a business! They just have a really clear idea of what they want and the impact it’ll have—and then they’re pretty much done.
So I encourage you, as a team member, to educate your entrepreneur about what it will take to achieve the result they’re asking of you. Don’t get into the details, but do pick out the highlights. If they think it’s going to take two days and you know it will take two weeks, tell them that. You can say something along the lines of, “You know what? That’s an awesome idea. I love it. It’s going to have a huge impact. The challenge I’m seeing is that it’s going to take a little longer—two weeks, I think. I don’t quite see how it’s possible to do it in two days.”
The language here is important: You’re supportive and appreciative of the idea, and never being defensive, polarizing, or saying it’s impossible.
Dan Sullivan has a great line about this: “There’s no such thing as an unrealistic goal, just an unrealistic deadline.”
You’re simply presenting what you see from your perspective, and this leaves an opening for your entrepreneur to present another possibility, to simplify or scale back their goal, or to extend the time frame. You’re helping them make an informed decision through collaboration, partnership, and teamwork.
Get totally clear about the desired result.
One critical point here is that, in order for a project to succeed, you and your entrepreneur need to be aligned on the result you’re going after.
In my decades of working with teams, I’ve seen lots of meetings where people leave the room with entirely different ideas of what’s supposed to happen next. Or there’s the classic “drive-by delegation” where someone chucks an idea at someone and then takes off.
You can make sure your thinking is aligned by asking the question, “What will it look like when this is done and done well?” Paint the picture together, fill in the details, and define the rules of the game so you can win it.
It doesn’t matter what level of the company you’re at—whether you’re the owner or you just started last week—getting aligned like this is a lot more effective and a lot more fun. The job could be anything from a lunch order to installing a brand new CRM system—you still have to answer that question.
The conversation doesn’t have to take a long time, depending on the complexity of the project, but once you have it, everyone gets to supply their unique creativity, ideas, and problem-solving abilities. It becomes a collaborative project.
One of the biggest issues I see is the polarization that happens when people approach things from conflicting points of view. I think my mission in life is to end that polarization by giving people the tools to see things from the other person’s perspective.
Keep looking at what you’re already doing. You’re growing as a person. You have access to ingenuity and capabilities that you didn’t have a year ago—or even a week ago! The more you keep asking, “What’s the result? How can I do it faster? How can I be more effective?”, the more successful you’ll be in The Results Economy.