When you are inexperienced and immature in business you have a tendency to try to control all aspects of the business. Since you typically are running a tiny little enterprise you can handle all the tasks involved. As you grow that becomes more difficult to do.
More importantly, however, is the relationship you have with your people. It is a fine walk between managing people expeditiously to make sure they are efficient and productive, and over-managing them killing all their creativity and all their initiative.
When I first started I was definitely the creativity and initiative killer. I micro-managed every aspect of manufacturing because I was scared to death one wrong move would put me out of business. My fear was not altogether unfounded, I had so little money, every dime I received was used up in equipment purchases, supplies, and miscellaneous expenses. I hoped to squeeze out just enough extra to make a fourteen hundred dollar house payment and have three bucks left over to pay Taco Bell twice a day.
In November it will be 13 years since I started this business, and today I have the luxury of having most of my equipment paid for, an industrial building which has more than doubled in value since I bought it, and a little bit of money in the bank so I don’t sweat financial worries every second of the day. That being said, I am still stretched. The plastics business is very lean and competitive, and if you expect to make any money you can’t have too many managers running around. It’s a mostly Indians kind of business. As the general manager, I am not only responsible for plastics processing and tooling, I manage maintenance, machinery repair, material handling, shipping, etc. I’m lucky my wife is a competent accountant and can handle all the financial requirements of maintaining a small business.
Taking on the task of designing a product as complicated as a handgun from the ground up is a little loony given all my other responsibilities. Not that I haven’t been called loony more than once.
Today I have a tendency to let people flail perhaps a little longer than I ought to, and it definitely costs money to fix the resulting mistakes. That’s the minus. The plus is, people are more apt to use initiative in their problem solving tasks and this increases their value and understanding of their job. It requires patience to allow, but since I am distracted with other things it generally works out for the better.
I definitely have become much more of the hands off type of a manager adding supervision only sparsely.
Manufacturing is an old-line type of business, but since my company is fairly young and computer centered I anticipated my marketing and sales efforts were going to end up quite unconventional for the genre. This website is the anchor of that unconventional pursuit. My main contribution to the Website is to oversee the general theme and write the weekly column (an accidental development).
Most of the creative input is invested by Dave, my web designer. He has been a graphic artist running his own small advertising business for over twenty years. About ten years ago he began learning internet design, and today most all his revenue comes from web based projects; almost none from print work.
Dave drives me nuts because after we discuss work plans, he goes off and proceeds to do nothing I told him artist type. On top of that, a single idea almost always morphs into three new projects. Sometimes I think he’s a little dense, but he’s really a genius, he’s made it impossible for me to ever fire him.
While I think the weekly column is the centerpiece to our marketing campaign and our theme: encouraging conservative values; Dave has us experimenting with youtube videos, and of course the podcast is his idea. He has repeatedly volunteered to edit and manage the podcasts and gets a little perturbed with me because I won’t let him, but the truth is he doesn’t have enough time to finish the tasks he has already. I’m not going to take on that task either if I expect to get this gun on the market any time soon.
That’s where Mike comes in.
If you read column #20, you know Sake Mike is quite a character, and I would say quite entertaining; just what I thought would be required to make listening to idiots over the internet interesting. Additionally, Mike wanted the job.
Unfortunately, Mike has a radical case of ADD. Lately, he has failed to make good on promises; podcast #6 was suppose to be posted in September, he wants to get rid of the FMK truck we spent a bunch of money on to wrap, and now he’s whining because the gun’s not getting done fast enough to suit him.
That really tickles me, while he bounces in and out as he pleases playing Sake Mike I’ve dedicated over five years and nearly a million bucks in efforts to put an innovative handgun on the market all too slow for Mike who’s only really been peripherally involved with the website for the last six months or so Poor baby.
I’ve never asked our readers to leave a response, but perhaps you wouldn’t mind putting in your two cents this week before Sake Mike kills himself off.
If you don’t like these podcasts anyway, there really is no reason for me to try and motivate him to do his part, and we’ll be done with them. Dave won’t be happy but I just don’t have the energy to babysit any extra children, the micro-manager in me saw his demise long ago.
Copyright 2007 Jim Pontillo