If you set out to build a successful and growing business, you’ll increasingly find yourself depending on other people. Even the single individual running an online business from the bedroom will almost always rely on others to perform a number of critical roles. It is common to call these other key people stakeholders, indicating they have a real stake in the success of your company.
That stake can involve any number of factors, from the jobs and compensation of key managers to the financial returns of investors. While these shareholders who invest by buying shares are commonly understood to have such an interest, it is easy to forget about all the others affected by how well your company performs and thrives.
Understanding the Players
Entrepreneurs and business owners have a natural tendency to focus on the end goal and the effort it takes to achieve it. However, it is a critical error to forget about those stakeholders who play a key role in helping to achieve those goals. That reality makes it crucial that every business owner take the time to sit and periodically review the different stakeholders they depend upon. In addition to the managers and shareholders mentioned, this group will include:
- Key advisors
- Board members
- Key line employees
In the final analysis, this list can be as long as the number of vital relationships with a vested interest in your success, including key vendors and even your major customers.
Involving the Stakeholder
The exercise of carefully evaluating the contribution of these essential team members will help you appreciate their individual roles and identify ways to make their involvement more effective and efficient. Taking time to communicate with each group of stakeholders is the beginning of that process. You quickly realize it is not enough for your supporters and stakeholders to want you to succeed; you must enable them in assisting you to do so.
Of course, true communications is a two-way street. While you must clearly express and lay out specific and achievable goals and expectations, it is often just as important to listen to what is said to you from those you are seeking to lead. Even more, it is vital to create a culture and environment where feedback is expected, rewarded, and acted upon.
An important element in creating this environment is creating proactive situations focused on communications, planning, and reviews. While it may seem difficult or even pointless to schedule monthly, quarterly or other periodic meetings, these can ultimately make the difference between success and failure, or so-so success and really knocking it out of the park success.
Simply putting a date on the calendar is an important first step. Make the date a priority and set far enough in advance that everyone can schedule around it. Invest some time in planning such a session and send out notes or thoughts about the goals of your meeting in advance. Likewise, be sure to send out follow up information, showing participants you heard and are acting on the information you gained.
Taking such time is a major investment of everyone’s limited time and precious company resources. That demands a real return on that investment. Accordingly, make sure the atmosphere during the actual meetings is collaborative and encouraging. As much as possible, make the event everyone looks forward to, not something to dread.
Remember what Lee Iacocca, one of our nation’s most successful businessmen had to say, “Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.”