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Managing A Business Like a Person

I am not my business. No one person is my little business. My business consists of many people working together to accomplish individual goals, and together we accomplish great things. Many of these people don't even work directly for my company!

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In 1651, Thomas Hobbes wrote a great book on civil government entitled The Leviathan.

The book’s premise seems very simple 350 years later: People come together to create a government. The government consists of the people within it. Even the king represents the collective will of the people.

The book’s premise seems very simple 350 years later: People come together to create a government. The government consists of the people within it. Even the king represents the collective will of the people.

If you look carefully at the frontispiece of Hobbes’ book you’ll see that the monarch is really made up of all the people. For a better graphic, see

http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/libraries/rare/modernity/hobbes2.html (This link is subject to the frailties of the internet.).

What Hobbes said of governments is also true of all other social organizations. We come together in hopes of doing things are a group that we cannot accomplish on our own. And, in fact, the Industrial Revolution has forced us to extend the analogy of the body even further. In Hobbes’ day there were only a few activities that required a large number of people to accomplish.

Today, most people work in jobs that require several people to be successful. No one person can build an airliner, or a skyscraper. Nor can one person run the billing department for a large corporation. Nor manage an insurance company. And so forth.

We are each individuals, but we work together to make things happen. My business relies on editors and printers, layout people and staff supervisors. I am not my business. No one person is my little business. My business consists of many people working together to accomplish individual goals, and together we accomplish great things. Many of these people don’t even work directly for my company!

Businesses have the same needs as the people who work there: 
They need to stay focused on success. 
They need to value relaxation and personal growth. 
They need regular evaluations. 
They need instruction and direction. 
— Karl Palachuk 

Think of your business like a person. What are the important things you do to evaluate, manage, and encourage the greatest performance from your employees? Well those are the same things you should be doing to maintain your business.

To help employees be successful, you need to:

  • Set specific, measurable goals
  • Evaluate performance regularly
  • Refine the goals and start again

All the while, you need to create an atmosphere of respect, appreciation, and fun.

These are the same things you need to do to maintain your business. As you can see, we’ve got quite a list of analogies between managing an employee and managing a business. You should look for more.

The bottom line is that you need to nurture your business and give it the attention it deserves. Too often, as our businesses grow and become successful, they also become filled with stress. Some of this stress comes from the boss. After all, the boss feels the stress first.

As the business hires people, the boss turns over some vital functions to new people. The boss feels freedom! But he also needs to check in regularly, or the employee will feel abandoned. The employee needs some attention and help. And that needs to continue if the employee is to be productive.

When the boss just hands things off and doesn’t check back, the employee begins to wander off from what the boss intended. Soon that position develops in ways the boss didn’t intend.  The more the boss ignores it, the more it becomes something other than what he intended.

Businesses are the same way. As they become more successful, they need the same ongoing attention as the employees within them.

We all know that companies have “cultures” and norms. Some companies are stressful, some are laid back. Some are friendly and some are not. Each of these cultures develops over time. It may develop as the direct result of plans and actions, or it may evolve on its own as the result of no plan or action.

You should work to make your business what you intend it to be. Here are two examples from my own business.

First, I have always tried to do business with nice people. When I first started, I used to tell prospects “If you’re the kind of person who yells and screams at your employees, we don’t need you as a client.” As a result of my intention, I accepted nice people as clients and rejected jerks.

From time to time we pare down our clients and re-focus our business. This criterion plays an important role in that process.

One of the first things people notice when they come to work for my company is that our clients are really nice people.

Second, I work hard to make my business as low-stress as possible. All businesses have stress, deadlines, and problems. But we work to make sure that employees know that their job is not on the line, that we’re going to be fine, etc. We put procedures in place to keep people from feeling like the weight of a problem is on them.

The result is that people agree that we have a very pleasant place to work. Employees feel supported, too, as they know they can share problems (and stress) with others.

Your employees are each single organisms that need attention and nurturing. But don’t forget that your company as a whole is a larger, more complex organism that also needs attention and nurturing. The analogy is quite strong. The techniques for setting goals, evaluating performance, and refining goals are also very analogous.

Give this new perspective a try. 

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Karl W. Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk

Author of Relax Focus Succeed and 19 more books.

Karl W. Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk

Author of Relax Focus Succeed and 19 more books.

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