When you run your own gig, it is inevitable that people will try their best to capitalize on your ambition, hard work, and success. A ?what?s in it for me? kind of thing. It happens. ?It?s human nature and there?s no getting around it. At times, especially with the tough economy, you will feel raped and pillaged by everyone around you, even those closest to you. That includes your vendors, subcontractors, employees, partners, prospects, and even your clients. All of them. Everyone, at some point, has their hand out and has their best interest at heart, not yours or your company?s.
Your vendors and subcontractors will try to squeeze as much money as they can from you. Your employees will not perform as you thought they would or as they promised you they would. They will try to make themselves appear larger than life and make you feel as if your entire organization will crumble if they leave. Sort of like what a blowfish does when it?s in danger of getting eaten. Your partners will try to leverage what they can no matter how good a relationship you think you have with them. Your prospects will tease you into spending money on customizing your product…that if you can get it to do this and that for them, they will buy it, only to disappear off the face of the earth after you spend gobs of money tweaking it and flying across the country to demo it to them. Even your clients will disappoint you. They will get you to do something clearly outside of the scope of work of what you agreed upon and refuse to even consider a scope change that will cost them money. After all, the client is always right, right?
Peace, Love, and Happiness? Not So Much
You will need to face the facts: people are greedy, they will disappoint you, and they will look out for n?mero uno: themselves. That altruistic concept of everyone being good, peace, love, and happiness? Not accurate in the real world. And the sooner you learn this lesson, the more you will succeed in the business world. How do I know this? Because it happens to me all the time, even today.
Being an A-hole
If you want to succeed for the long haul, you need to be able to push back. Some call it backbone. Others call it ?growing a pair?. I call it being an a-hole. If people consider you to be one of those ?good guys? or ?nice guys?, you will get mowed down, railroaded by those around you, unless you can be an a-hole when required. Said another way, if you give in to everyone?s suggestion because you would prefer to cave instead of to confront them, your company will suffer dearly.
I didn?t learn this lesson early enough and still to this day have a tough time being enough of an a-hole to succeed the way I should be succeeding. Like most people that start a business, when I started Terraine 20 years ago, I believed that I could be different than the other guys. I would treat everyone fairly and equitably, making sure that everyone that worked for me worked with me. ?There?s a difference.
Do What?s Best for Your Company
But it doesn?t work out quite that way. When push comes to shove, you need to think about what?s best for the company, not what?s best for your employees, subcontractors, vendors, prospects, or clients. No one is thinking about your company the way you are, and you need to keep that in mind when everyone is jockeying for your ear and pushing their opinion on you about something, especially when times are tough and tough decisions need to be made.
I?m still trying to add more ?a-hole-ness? to my work style. It?s not exactly easy for me, because I don?t like confrontation. But I?m beginning to get better at pushing back. While I still value everyone else?s opinions and beliefs, ultimately, my opinion, my gut instinct, is what matters the most. And that?s because I really do have my company?s best interest at heart, something that absolutely no one else on the planet does. My company is relying on me to make the right decisions. Its future depends on me, just like a baby’s immediate future depends on its parents. And this requires a bit of a-hole-ness. Not much, just a little. ?Like Tabasco?, a dash of ?a-hole-ness? goes a long way.