Friday, September 7, 2012

Club Entrepreneur Part 4 - The Players Lounge

Those who follow this blog notice I end every post with the tagline, "Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge." Unless you read my book, the line makes little sense. In this, the fourth installment of the series, we discuss The Players Lounge and describe The Player. Be sure to read posts 1, 2 and 3 for context and to understand the philosophy behind Club Entrepreneur. Without further ado, let's meet The Players.

Meet the Players 

The best way I can think of how to describe a Player is to give you a real life example of one. Almost two years ago while sitting in the office of one of my mentors, something struck me. For the first time, I realized his business did not need him. He employs a competent team of over one hundred people, including a sales staff, a finance officer, and an operations officer. The company has revenues to the tune of a few hundred million dollars a year. Despite this, if he requests a large check unexpectedly, it draws the ire of his finance officer. I watched her question him thoroughly on one such occasion.

He asked her to cut him a $15,000 check for one of my projects that required capital. She started grilling him the moment she entered his office. After she finished with him, she turned to me and said, "Derrick, I don't know what you are working on but it better be good." The seriousness of her tone caused me to sit up in chair and respond, "Yes, ma'am. I will do my best." To which she responded, "You better."

She behaved as if she was handing over her own money. Everyone I met viewed his or her job in the same manner. Over the years, he built a team capable of running his business without him. Hence, the definition of a Player: one whose business outgrows them to such a degree, they are no longer needed for its day-to-day operations. Those who remain in their businesses beyond this point, do so out of want, not necessity.

Determining whether you are a Player is simple. Ask yourself, if you drop dead tomorrow, can your business go on without you? If the answer is no, you have not yet reached the level of a Player. 

Becoming a Player 

What distinguishes Players is their ability to build teams and delegate. There is no chance of a business outgrowing the founder if he or she insists on wearing too many hats for too long. Aspiring Players are eager to find the right people and hand over even the duties of their core competency--the skill that got them into business in the first place.

Therefore, the talented designer hires other designers and oversees their work (think Sara Blakely). The  genius coder recruits a team of geniuses more brilliant than him or herself (think Bill Gates). The top chef hires a team of top chefs (think Chef Ramsey). The small mortgage company hires a team of sales people and mortgage experts but the founder has never written a mortgage in his life (the mentor I mentioned earlier). Many of them may start as one-man operations, but they do not remain that way for long.

Players Have More Fun

Those in The Players Lounge reach the pinnacle of entrepreneurial success, which affords them opportunities far beyond wealth and toys. They can sell their businesses and move on to other, more fulfilling passions. They can use their earnings to experiment with new ventures. The capital and experience gained during their years of success can be used to support new and aspiring entrepreneurs. Some go on to volunteer for entrepreneur organizations that specialize in educating and supporting business owners. Others go on to write books, give lectures or a host of other activities focused on giving back and paying forward. 

Remember, the purpose of entrepreneurship is to provide value and solve problems. The Players are able to do this on a grand scale.

Rolling with the Players 

Players are eager to grow their membership by helping those they recognize as their own--sharp entrepreneurs slogging their way through. You will encounter them if keeping the right company and working hard to establish your business. They offer assistance by making introductions to other Players who could be potential customers, partners or even investors. In rare cases, they even provide capital for projects they deem worthy. However, the most valuable thing they offer is advice and guidance. You want these people as mentors.

In return, Players expect you to deliver. They are not in the business of charity and will not waste their time with those merely seeking handouts and shortcuts. Do not embarrass them or put them in a position of having to apologize for you because you failed to perform when given the opportunity. What they want more than anything else is for you to live up to your potential and become a Player yourself.

There is a lot I can say about this group but I do not intend to re-write my entire book in this post. The most important take away is to determine if you belong in The Players Lounge. The rewards are great but getting there requires a lot more work, risk and faith.

The final post on Club Entrepreneur will be a summary, a cheat sheet of sorts, of the four stages of entrepreneurship covered in all four articles. This will serve as a compass to ensure you remain on course in your entrepreneurial journey.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge

See Also...

Club Entrepreneur Part 1
Club Entrepreneur Part 2
Club Entrepreneur Part 3
An Open Letter to a Beginning Entrepreneur

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