I recently had a conversation with a colleague about the way we disadvantage ourselves in business. Now I know this is a touchy subject but hear me out, I have something to say about this. As a minority business owner it’s really easy for me to assign blame and scream that it’s not fair but there’s no education in that. While I am not going to pretend that everything if perfect, I want to talk about what we as minority business aren’t doing to bring value to our companies.
We don’t champion our protégé
We know that the big boys pick rising stars and mentor them in just about every way imaginable. What I’ve noticed is that as small businesses, we fail to do the same. We often fail to recognize talent due to resources, knowledge or just willful ignorance. The failure to put our mentees value on displays often leaves us a disadvantage when we are trying to impress our value upon potential clients.
We fail to recognize our own potential
Having a mentee is about being able to really impart business lessons to someone, in a way that isn’t always practical on a large scale. A mentee give the mentor the ability to share the challenges and frustrations of leader, preparing them vicariously for a fight of their own. We can’t always show our staff every uncertainty, but a mentee gifts us with the ability to have a candid conversation. They serve as a sounding board as much as a student and when you pick a good one there is no better resource.
We believe everything we think
The irony of success is that the more successful you are, the more you think about failure. We unwittingly transfer this to our protégé. We start to think of every area they have a weakness in and we use that weakness to justify why we don’t put them forward for a contract, or why we can’t send them along as part of a pitch team. In doing this we create a roadblock for clients trying to see our value and take a chance on us.
Business is as much a psychological game as a profit game. The most valuable companies understand the value of creating a funnel of strong leadership, it’s an intangible that separates great companies from good ones. The beauty of a small business is that the leap from good to great, can literally be one person.