“And it is my pleasure to introduce Chris McGoff. Chris is …”
As a professional speaker, I hear myself introduced all the time. My host usually reads an introduction that I wrote, so I was surprised by my negative reaction when I was recently introduced as a serial entrepreneur. It wasn’t the first time that phrase was attached to me, but it was the first time it felt wrong.
The dictionary lists speculator, tycoon, magnate, mogul, hustler, and wheeler and dealer as synonyms for entrepreneur. And to be sure, in every one of my ventures, the initial phase required me to take on ways of being that these words capture aptly.
If you’ve ever tried to start a business, you’ve experienced what I call the “figuring it out” phase. It’s exhilarating and full of fast processing of new ideas, innovations, and rapid prototyping. New ideas are your friend, and the capacity to take big risks is table stakes.
Some of my serial entrepreneur friends and a few of my former partners are addicted to the exhilaration, chaos, and risk of the “figuring it out” phase. They never want it to end.
These are folks I invite to parties because they’re so much fun, but I’ve learned to shy away from partnering with them in business. I’ve learned that to grow successful businesses, I need to partner with people who are willing and capable of balancing their level of risk tolerance and their search for new ideas, with their willingness to adopt discipline, standards, and processes with the evolving needs of the business.
I want partners who are willing to become who the business needs them to become. I want to partner with ‘business builders.’
So if you or your business partners have been unable to move beyond the entrepreneurial mindset, try adopting these mindsets, which will help you and your business move to the next level:
This phase is all about building sales and capacity, and you should get through it as quickly as possible. It’ll require you and other leaders to evolve your mindsets.
You must be prepared to mute your thirst for risk and fixation on the next big idea and take on an appreciation for structure, repeatability, standards, processes, and discipline. And until you as the leader evolve, the business will not be able to evolve.
Once you have something figured out, the business is ready to evolve into its next phase. Repeatability becomes the watchword in this phase.
Once you’ve developed a way to systematically increase sales and delivery capacity, the business is ready to move to the scaling phase. This mindset is all about standardization — using what works and hiring more people to support business demand.
Serial entrepreneurs are often challenged in this phase and will be tempted to improve upon what’s working, but this will send the business back into design and testing and away from scaling.
The business now needs ‘business builders’ to place a high value on reliability, integrity, and discipline. Consistency becomes the watchword.
Your business is thriving — congratulations! Now it’s time to move into the innovation mindset.
The business has two very distinct needs. The business should remain vigilant and consistent in its systematic scaling of sales and delivery capacity of its current offerings, while simultaneously figuring out new offerings the market wants.
This is often where I see most people struggle. How can you innovate yet develop new offerings that align with your current ones and help support your overall vision for the company?
The ‘business builders’ must value repeatability and consistency and at other times take some big risks and try out some game-changing ideas. Balance becomes the watchword.
My advice is to party with serial entrepreneurs and risk junkies all night long — but partner with people who are capable of and willing to adopt the discipline necessary for a successful ‘business builder.’
Time to go re-write that introduction.
This article first appeared on Inc.com.