5 Business Lessons from Managers

I’m currently getting my MBA at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, but I am by no means a business expert. A great part about business school is that you review cases of companies that did things right and those that didn’t, and then takeaway the key points from both situations. 

Because every business is unique, and the market landscape is constantly changing, frameworks are a great starting point and you can mold and model them to suit your particular needs and pain points. As the marketing manager for Chatnels, I’ve used the Business Model and Value Proposition canvases by Strategyzer while working on product launch marketing strategies.

It’s a challenging time for most businesses these days living amidst a pandemic world, I thought it would be timely to do some research that i could share with you. Whether you’re a savvy entrepreneurial start-up in the tech industry, a seasoned health food CPG company, or anything in between, here are some lessons other business owners/managers learnt during their journey.

1. Balance Emotional Intelligence and Analytical Intelligence

A Harvard Business Review article explains we each have two different neural networks. Two parts to our brains that function differently. There’s the analytical side, which is great for quantitative tasks and data analytics. And then there’s the empathetic side, which is best for qualitative, creative tasks and interacting with people. To be successful in business you need to hone and apply both – your analytical intelligence and your emotional intelligence. 

As a manager or business leader, you need to be analytical to focus on the budgets, sales targets, and cash flow of the business to keep it running. But you also need to maximize your relationships with your staff, clients, investors and other members of your network by using emotional intelligence too. 

2. Hard Work > Talent or Luck 

I’m a regular listener to the How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz. It’s a podcast of narrative interviews with entrepreneurs and innovators of some of the world’s best known companies. The host ends each podcast by asking the guest, “how much of their success they attribute to hard work and how much is because of luck”. 

The business lesson here is that sometimes a small amount of luck or good timing is involved, but it is hard work that will always outweigh talent or luck. It’s the person that wants success that badly – that will sacrifice going out on the weekends, sleep, binge watching TV on Netflix. Those who are truly determined to work hard and put in effort above and beyond that will be successful in their business or company. 

Working hard means having the confidence to accept your faults, to work on them or around them, to become more knowledgeable than your competition. Working hard to be a good leader means asking for feedback so you can improve and show that you care about how you are perceived and the quality of your work.   

3. Build and Appreciate a Strong Team

You can’t do everything all by yourself. Building a strong team for your business is essential. There are only so many hours in the day and you can’t be the best at everything. While you may be a marketing genius, it’s probably best to hire an accountant to deal with the bookkeeping. Be the expert in your field and hire other experts to make a well-rounded team. 

Now that you’ve got a powerhouse team, ensure you show your appreciation to every team member so they feel valued. There’s a common phrase in business; ‘people don’t leave companies, they leave management.’ Learn this lesson early because you will lose your employees if they are dissatisfied with how you treat them.  

4. Live Outside of your Comfort Zone

I recently watched the documentary Man On Wire. It tells the story of tightrope walker Phillippe Petit’s life culminating in his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. In the film Phillippe says that you’re not living life unless you’re living on a wire. You have to step out of your comfort zone in order to feel something, to do something that is meaningful.

The same can be said for business. Just staying in your comfort zone won’t get you far. Business is a competitive environment. You have to learn to take risks. The more you take them, the more comfortable you will get putting yourself in that seemingly stand of discomfort. It seems counterintuitive. But smart risks, calculated risks will give you the drive and an edge up.  

5. Define and Implement Simplified Processes 

As you scale and grow your business, having clearly defined, easy-to follow processes is key. A McKinsey report says we spend 20% of our work time searching for answers to work questions or internal resources. That’s almost 90 minutes a day! Having organized files and how-to documents for processes that are accessible for your organization will save you time. With cloud technology you can easily set different permissions to folders for different teams and members. That way everyone can access what they need. 

A single communication hub for team and client conversing is also a huge time saver. Instead of jumping from Slack to Zoom to Jira for your internal team chats, meetings and project workflow management; try an app that combines them all – Chatnels. The Basic plan is always free. And Premium is free for 90 days to help businesses communicate virtually due to COVID-19 and remote working.

Hopefully the wisdom from these business managers can be applied to your business in one way or another. Every day is a new day to learn and grow.