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Performance & Pay

Ego is not a dirty word.

Grow a small business - check your ego at the doorA great line from the 1970s hit song of the same name from Australian band Skyhooks.

We all have an ego.  The question is – do you understand yours and have it under control?  Most entreprenuers are overly confident (some arrogant) and come with a healthy ego.  There is an argument that this is needed to start let alone succeed in business.  But if you aren’t careful – being too bolshie or allowing hubris (overbearing pride or arrogance) to creep in – ego can be your undoing.

You could hire that extra staff member, when the smarter thing to do was to sit tight a few more months until you had the orders/billable work to cover their cost.  You could move into that swanky new office, because you wanted the business’ image to have a boost (i.e. your image).

In the world of an effective entrepreneur ego isn’t a dirty word.  But if you let it, ego can get in the way of making fast and the right decisions.  Like when to quit.

You should always be self-aware of how your ego can influence your thinking, behaviour and decisions.  And, it’s not easy, we know that.  It is important however.

Here are some things to consider, and do, if you suspect your ego is getting in the way of some work or a decision.

  1. Ask yourself – “am I being proud about this or blatantly ignoring my gut?”
  2. Ask some trusted advisers their honest opinion, especially your mentor(s) – their job is to be brutally frank with you

A terrific book to help in this area is businessThink (only 1-2 chapters of it are worth a read). The chapter on ego is the best we’ve read on how to look out for issues around this – as well as groupthink – within your management and leadership team(s). The authors provide their own raw and very personal account of how hubris undid their first business. Read the 2 chapters in this book and learn from their mistakes, especially if your business has founders who are young, naive and don’t have a mentor.

What a small business owner/manager should do to keep your ego in check:

  1. Make sure you have a mentor, and other trusted advisers
  2. Read the 2 great chapters in the businessThink book about leaving your ego at the door

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