Business owner’s discipline is the first critical element for success. It is important to launch a business, it is a basic requirement to prioritize objectives and it is fundamental to establish the appropriate cultural values in the company. Most consultants would agree that companies that did not get off the ground were due to discipline issues with the entrepreneur either on the planning stage or during the critical take off stage.
It is almost impossible to launch a business without having the virtue of discipline, before starting up the entrepreneur needs to develop an idea and then evolve it into a business plan. The entrepreneur must then plan, conduct research, explore different alternatives, analyze different roads to follow and finally with a well developed plan he or she might launch the business. It is in this initial process where many entrepreneurs with little discipline get lost in the details because they deviate from the core business idea or simply because their lack of organization prevents them from making it to the business launch stage. A good friend of mine has been trying to leave his full time employment to open his business for almost two years, his practice is growing, he is well qualified, his clients are happy but somehow he has not been able to follow up his business plan to generate enough revenue to make it a real business. It does not take a genius to see that he starts lots of initiatives but he finishes none therefore his endeavor is only a part time business.
Once the enterprise is open, business owners face the next and more critical stage which is the establishment of priorities and objectives; very often only the business owners with a degree of discipline devote some attention to this area of business management. Rational prioritization of objectives requires a huge dose of self discipline because the emotional arguments often try to sabotage rationality, some examples are: buying a car, go out on vacation, buy a new house and many other objectives established by the business owner himself but totally external and independent from the business’ health. The entrepreneur must act as a leader by setting clear goals and objectives but it is extremely difficult to communicate the desired outcome when the entrepreneur himself does not have a clear set of goals therefore only a disciplined and analytical thinking process creates a clear vision from and to the entrepreneur. Every banker would tell you that companies who did not have clear objectives were the ones who overleveraged and suffered in the recent years, just because they could not learn how to say NO to new investments or new spending.
Every business creates its own organizational culture and a series of values that support its culture. In young companies the role model to follow is usually the owner-founder and generally the company’s culture reflects his or her own personality. Then, it is not too strange to think that an undisciplined business owner will create an organizational culture in which discipline is not a fundamental value and sooner rather than later this is going to be reflected in the company’s operations and financial results.
Finally, it is not a coincidence that successful entrepreneurs have self discipline as a common trait in their personalities which is reflected in many methodologies and working processes. Planning, establishment of goals and culture are all vital for business success and they all require discipline.
-- Canales is a business growth consultant for small and midsize service and distribution businesses, with finance and crisis management experience for midsize businesses in Texas and the Midwest. Read his bio