Because I am the 'middle person' between the service provider and the end user/business owner, I interact with literally hundreds of business owners over the course of a year, and when things start getting tough - for whatever reason - I have found that small to medium business owners pretty much break down to two very distinct personas: The True Entrepreneur and the "I am Still Just An Employee".
The True Entrepreneur will do whatever it takes to make the company a success, and understands that he cannot ask of his staff what he is not willing to do. In ecommerce, especially, they understand that there are times when you might be on call 24/7 because an online business is always open, their enthusiasm inspires confidence in their staff, as well as loyalty, and creates in their employees the desire to go beyond the basic duties of their job description.
When times are tough, the True Entrepreneur gets creative, thinks outside the box and simply does whatever needs to be done, without regard to title, position and formality.
Think the early days of Apple and Guy Kawasaki's "Evangelism" sales credo.
On the flip side - you have the business owner who still operates in the "Employee Mindset".....9 to 5 hours, weekends and holidays off.....no matter what is going on at the company. When business is great - these business owners are usually fine, especially if they have been fortunate enough to hire staff that can function on their own.
Unfortunately, this employee mindset is the first type of business to fail when times get tough, because too often, this business owner cannot make the mind shift from "9 to 5" to survival mode, and this clock watching attitude of the owner has already trickled down to the employees as well, creating a company environment where the employees look at their time spent on the job as just that - a J-O-B. Put in your time until the clock says it's time to go home. If the company is in trouble - don't put on the 'thinking hat' - just dust off the resume and start shopping for the next J-O-B.
So what brings on my rant today?
Simple - a core part of my business is 'matchmaking' - what we call JV's online. I have one client that has great technology, but has gone through a very tough year, and laid
off most of it's staff. I contacted them on the 12th of Feb about a new client that would like to partner with them - a deal that could literally be a 'make or break' situation for this client.
It took 5 days for the CEO to respond.......because Monday was a holiday. In 5 days, the owner of the company never checked his email or voicemail - and this is a company that
is down to a skeleton crew, with the CEO handling all sales etc right now. But it was a
'holiday' so he didn't bother to look at anything to do with business. And yes - this is an ecom biz.....24/7, folks!
On the other hand, another client that I contacted over the 'holiday' got back to me within 30 minutes (yes, he was 'off', too!), and negotiations are under way for the biggest deal this company has ever had.
The second company's owner said simply "hey, in this connected age - I can be home with the kids, and still take care of my company. And taking care of my company IS taking care of my kids!!".
Which company do you think will not only survive but succeed??? Yes, we all want to work minimal hours for maximum rewards - but there are few success stories out there that don't also have some blood, sweat and tears mixed in. The truth is, in most cases, it takes hard work and a "will do whatever takes' attitude to succeed, online and offline.
And 9 to 5 rarely cuts it for the typical small business.
In every economic 'disaster' - there are those that see opportunities, and become wealthy, while there are others that see disaster and accept it as fact.
I guess that's why I value the WF - it's always refreshing to see so many with the entrepreneurial mindset day in and day out!