Failure to Act as Owners

I used to think I did a fairly good job avoiding this fallacy -- until I became a small business owner.  As an owner who has his roots in large corporations, however, I can see substantial differences.

As an owner, I focus on the basics.  Selling, producing, invoicing, collecting.  And a little bit of accounting just so I know how it is all working.  Things like strategies, marketing plans, job descriptions, performance reviews, IT recovery plans -- all take a back seat to the basics.

As an owner, I look for bargains.  A thirty year old Bridgeport mill sounds a lot better to me than a new one.  My office is full of cast-off furniture.  I'll make that old computer work -- for as long as possible.

As an owner, I don't let things drift.  At least not important things.  If that means putting in extra effort today -- I do it.  I'm in a position to decide to work on that bill collection today, and let the website project wait for a while.  And I don't have to worry about how I'm being judged for making the decision.

I didn't do these things as an employee for a large corporation.

And I was hardly the most excessive when it came to spending other people's money.  We had high salary expectations, people too "important" to travel cheap, outrageously expensive office appointments, lavish retreats -- all in the name of teamwork/looking like a serious company/attracting top talent, or whatever other excuse we could come up with to justify the expenditures.

I recall a story on this very subject.  At one point (before my time), one of my employers decided to purchase and run a number of their distributors.  These looked like nice little businesses by themselves, and with the power of scale the company expected to further boost profitability.  But what actually happened was spending went out of control.  The managers hired too many people, bought new vehicles, carried too much inventory, and took too many credit risks.  The businesses actually performed worse for the company than they did when independent.  So the company sold off the distributors -- many to the managers who were running them.  And suddenly the things they "needed" when part of the corporation became unnecessary luxuries.  The businesses thrived on their own.

Yes, failure to act as an owner is a major anergy in large corporations, and one that allows the small business owner to  help level the the playing field.