Strictly Business

Thursday, Nov 08 2012 12:00 PM

RUSS ALLRED: Business owners, like pie, require good crust

BY RUSS ALLRED Contributing columnist

The sweetest food at Thanksgiving isn't served until you're stuffed. Some cherish cherry and others prefer apple. Since the filling is often canned, the important difference is the crust. Psychologists have written books about the personality of entrepreneurs, but entrepreneurial profiles are a recipe for disaster unless they include a crust. We need a ridge against rejection, a guard against greed, a protective layer for legalities and ample pies to endure employees.

To build a business, you have to sell your product. Successful sales are the result of hours of rejection. If you make 100 calls without a bite, you need the will to make 100 more. Often the thing that burns an entrepreneur is the lack of capital. Bank after bank your loan requests are rejected. You need a ridge to hide behind until the sweet filling is revealed. However, if the crust is too thick, it makes a bad pie.

A good crust is not meant to keep people out. On the contrary, it is the combination of textures and tastes that make pie so inviting. The crust offers form and protection. Often the best way of forming your protective crust is to set daily parameters like the number of calls you will make or people you will visit. Stop the unpleasant tasks before you get burned out, then start again when you are rested.

A pie crust holds in the filling until it sets. A challenge that lucky entrepreneurs face is delaying luxuries until the business can support them. An early windfall should be retained as a hedge against potential losses. You only buy what you need until the business consistently produces a profit. You only buy luxuries with excess funds. Greed is also gagging when it tempts you to exploit your customers or artificially inflate your abilities. If you don't keep greed in check, it will ultimately choke your business.

Some pies have an upper-crust to keep unwanted pests from pecking at the filling. One of the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs is government compliance. Payroll withholding, taxes, environmental controls, safety regulations, workers compensation and ever-threatening lawsuits can deter a business owner from true success. You can place your business in a pie-safe by organizing under an LLC or S-Corporation. But legal protection doesn't absolve you from oversight. The best approach is to accept the environment in which we work, learn your requirements and follow the rules.

Sadly a pie can only serve so many. As the business grows, the personal problems of employees can overwhelm an entrepreneur. The solution is to hire layers of management to deal with the daily concerns. Before you delegate the affairs of your business to others, you need to protect yourself with policies. In most instances a capable manager can control workflow with policies in place. Your input is only necessary when the instance falls out of the norm.

Before putting your pie in the oven you need to cut a vent in the upper-crust so the pent up heat doesn't burst out. Every entrepreneur needs a form of recreation to let off steam. Regular relaxation will give you a better attitude. With a peachy disposition, you can make your business a bowl full of cherries, easy as pie.

-- Russ Allred, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.

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