Leon Gettler: Are you cut out to be an entrepreneur?



Many managers eventually quit their jobs and to throw it all in and to branch out on their own as entrepreneurs. It’s a natural career path. But many are surprised at how tough it is, how much harder they have to work and how much stress it puts them under. So a lot of them end up abandoning those plans and going back to work as an employee manager. If you are planning to become an entrepreneur , the most important question to ask is whether you’re cut out for it.

Nicole Fallon at BusinessNews Daily gives us some warning signs to watch out for, signs that are telling you not to go there. These include not being comfortable with being uncomfortable, getting bored and frustrated easily, or being the type of person who likes to go in a new direction every 60 days, being uncomfortable with the idea of taking centre stage, not knowing how to handle the countless up and downs of the roller coaster life as an entrepreneur, being focused on complexity instead of simple solutions, refusing to embrace or not knowing how to go about marketing, getting easily winded by challenges and problems, refusing to take tough decisions or simply being in it for some quick cash.

Brian Tracy at Entrepreneur.com says entrepreneurs have the following traits:

“Entrepreneurs are optimistic and future oriented; they believe that success is possible and are willing to risk their resources in the pursuit of profit. They are fast moving and flexible, willing to change quickly when they get new information. Entrepreneurs are persistent and determined to succeed, because their own money and ego are at risk,’’ Tracy says.

“Entrepreneurs are skilled at selling against their competitors by creating perceptions of difference and uniqueness in their products and services. They continually seek ways to offer their products and services in such a way that they’re more attractive than anything else available.

“Entrepreneurs are capable of dealing effectively with the legal and governmental requirements of business. They’re creative and determined in satisfying regulations and acquiring the licenses necessary to do business. They are excellent problem solvers and are continually seeking solutions to the obstacles that inevitably arise.”
Tracy has a point but the problem with these descriptions is that they can describe just about any good manager. Being persistent, determined, good at creating points of difference and dealing with regulations should be part of their skill set. That could have zero impact on your ability to succeed as an entrepreneur.

According to Jessica Stillman at Inc.com it would be better to try it out first on a small scale and see if it works for you. She suggests getting some alone time in between classes or during lunch and brainstorming some business ideas. Then go out and get some feedback to see if it flies. Check out to see what other entrepreneurs in your field of interest are doing and talk to them. How do they build the business? Then finally, make a decision based on your research. That way you are not flying blind.

Do you think you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?



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Leon Gettler: Buzzword bull


On the same page, thought leadership, paradigm shift, out of the loop, result-focused, total quality, ballpark, ticks in boxes, value-add, touch base, think outside the box, stretch the envelope, put this one to bed, close the loop, at the end of the day, hot button, interface, killer apps, focus collectively as a group, user friendly, bells and whistles, benchmark, slippery slope, win-win, bandwidth, brainstorming, teamwork, shared goals, human capital, strategic fit, zero sum game, leveraging, tool kit, tool set and upscaling.

These are just a few examples of all the management jargon and buzzwords creeping into everyday language these days. If you want to get a feeling for how prevalent it is, check these Dilbert cartoons. “Let’s schedule a scenario-based-roundtable discussion about our enterprise project management.” The askthemanager site lists other annoying phrases like, for example, low hanging fruit (in other words, easy), take it offline (as opposed to discuss it later),  action item (meaning task) and so on. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, more managers are using these sorts of expressions. Now, every profession has its jargon but management jargon is particularly insidious because it creeps into our day to day work. More than 60 years ago, in his essay Politics and the English Language,  George Orwell said the aim of jargon was to mislead. He wrote: “When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink”. The other problem, he said, was that it stopped people thinking. “Every such phrase anaesthetises a portion of one’s brain,” Orwell said. He could have been talking about some of those business buzzwords.

The Australian Institute of Management has addressed this by releasing a version of Buzzword Bingo and some handy software, delightfully called Bullfighter, which detects jargon and complicated language and then suggests an alternative word or phrase.  Forbes has even developed a bracket where people get to vote via Twitter on the single most annoying example of business jargon and, by doing so, thoroughly embarrass all who employ it.

Not bad ideas, they’re a good start. But tackling business jargon actually takes a lot of work. As a manager, you need to understand the impact it’s having on people and the reasons why people use it. “People use jargon because they want to sound smart and credible when in fact they sound profoundly dim-witted and typically can’t be understood, which defeats the purpose of speaking in the first place,” author Karen Friedman told Forbes.

In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, author Dan Pallotta says that business jargon is “not a value-add” (which is jargon in itself but let’s play a straight bat to that).  He says jargon puts barriers up that prevent us from understanding anything. Managers who want to avoid jargon need to be authentic, he says.

Pallotta goes into more detail here: “You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you internalize this. Observe it, deconstruct it, and appreciate just how ridiculous most business conversation has become.  You will gain tremendous credibility, become much more productive, make those around you much more productive, and experience a great deal more joy in your working life if you look someone in the eye after hearing one of these verbal brain jammers and tell the person, ‘I don’t have any idea what you just said to me.’ ”

What are some of the worst examples of management jargon you’ve come across? How should it be managed?

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