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When a business is run by technologists it may have technically great products but is often slow to market because techies tend to focus on perfecting things, and such businesses frequently don’t maximise their opportunities. It may not explain itself well, it often believes the tech does the talking and may exhibit a certain arrogance. There’s also usually too light a focus on putting money back in the back and the company may feel like a science project.

When a business is run by marketers everything appears well designed, expensive and slick on the outside, but the reality rarely lives up to the story (though it may take a while to hear the true story). This is form over function in its purest form. The inside rarely looks all that pretty and the technology is often far from cutting edge (though it may not need to be). There is a tendency to gloss over details, concentrating on the aspirational rather than the practical.

When the company is run by salespeople then it’s opportunistic and focused on winning deals and customers. The danger here is that it becomes overly focused on short-term gains and may over-promise to get them. Poorly targeted sales people may make decisions that benefit them but don’t benefit either the customer or the long-term health of the business.

When the business is run by finance the risk is that good money management drifts into penny pinching, slowing investment, and nickel and diming customers. Risks are avoided and the business becomes about predictable results – meaning everything is sacrificed to the god of great graphs and smooth stats.

Which begs the question what happens when a company is run by people focused on customers? Well provided this is balanced with a bit of common sense then having an experience focused person in charge of the company can result in long-term success.

Retaining customers is key to MVNO health, and focusing on customers means the business should stay in touch with evolving needs and opportunities. This means resisting the temptation to nickel and dime customers or treat them poorly just because you can. Can you overfocus on customers? Of course. But ultimately it’s also best for customers that you’re a well run, efficient business that’s making money.

By nesting other concerns beneath the customer focus you can create a win-win for both customer and company. So the message is that the best companies have an outward not an inward focus, they listen and don’t just talk. And while they focus on the mechanics – sales, marketing, finance – they see these as essential ingredients which the chef whizzes up into something he or she knows the customer will appreciate.

Launching a successful business is a team sport, a fact frequently overlooked. Charisma will only take you so far and successful entrepreneurs tend to have a mix of skills or a top team around them to round out their skills, or they hire in the skills they need from good quality contractors. But like a lot of things in life, keeping the balance right is the real secret of success.