Cathy O'Donoghue of HR Champions offers advice for understanding entrepreneurs
After setting up arguably the first HR Consultancy in the county, regular Punchline Business Boffin, Cathy O'Donoghue could be described as an entrepreneur herself. Here she shares some of her experiences of working with other Gloucestershire entrepreneurs over the past 20 years.
There's no doubt that entrepreneurs have some very specific characteristics. For example, they tend to be able to respond to opportunities very quickly and gain advantage by being sensitive to changes in the marketplace. Initiators of ideas, they will identify a problem and work tirelessly to find a solution with a singularly focussed determination. Decisive and action-takers, they will think outside the box to find solutions.
Having a non-conformist attitude can be another attribute that leads an entrepreneur to success. There's a danger, however, that their refusal to adhere to the rules can create problems with legislative requirements or cause them to overlook the benefits of utilising recognised and effective working practices as they look for ways to work around barriers.
Because entrepreneurs, by default, are usually the founders and initiators of their businesses, they are likely to insist on maintaining a hand in all aspects of how that business is run. By failing to take a step back from time to time and look inwardly at the organisation, there is a real danger that they will fail to see how delegating some tasks to more qualified individuals can improve results.
A lot of the work I do with entrepreneurs involves looking at the skills and abilities of their senior team and ensuring that there is a good mix of personalities and leadership styles that will enable the business to grow.
There's a saying that goes "people who are like one another, like one another". This is true of many scenarios but could mean that an entrepreneur will be tempted to surround him or herself with what he or she perceives to be 'like' people. This can end in disappointment and frustration when, particularly under pressure, a colleague reveals what the entrepreneur considers to be a failure or shortcoming.
Entrepreneurs are very often visionaries; with an ability to look ahead and see the potential of concepts and ideas. Not everyone thinks this way, so when working in a business, we commonly turn to psychometric and personality profiling to help them understand how other team members work and absorb information. Not only does profiling enable us to clearly describe others' strengths and development needs, it also helps us to build a healthily diverse team that can challenge and question decisions where necessary.
We also find that the concept of a 9-5 regime is quite alien to entrepreneurs. They are usually so restless and results-orientated that they will work as required to get a task or job done. Again, frustration can ensue when others don't follow suit.
The work we have done with local entrepreneurs has produced some fantastic results for their businesses. It's exceptionally rewarding to see our development and coaching efforts transformed into significant growth for local companies which, in turn, have supported local employment and the local economy.
After years of working with entrepreneurs we have developed a flexible and effective formula to help entrepreneurial businesses get the best from their teams to thrive and grow.
After all, the desire to continually grow and improve is also endemic amongst entrepreneurs.
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