Are You Born To Be A Billionaire?
You dream of joining the ranks of the world’s richest, but are you truly born to be a billionaire?
Before you tackle a serious growth strategy and all its attendant hassles, ask yourself the following 13 tough questions, inspired by executive psychologist Debra Condren, who has worked with big names like 3M, Chevron, Hewlett-Packard; and psychologist David Ballard, head of the American Psychological Association Healthy Workplace Program; and Joan Kane, a Manhattan psychologist who treats many high-powered executives. You’ll see whether you’re up to the task–and, more importantly, whether you’re willing to pay the price to make billions. Who knows: Maybe a modest $100 million might be a better fit.
Mapping out your long-term goals for the business is critical before you decide to kick growth into high gear. Aiming to sell out in a few years? Fine. Suffused with competitive desire? OK. Just want to be left alone to trick out your product, with little care for the bottom line? Stay small.
Empire-building isn’t just about goal-setting and pinpoint execution. Superstars like Bill Gates and Sam Walton are bonafide revolutionaries. Self-made billionaires don’t dominate industries, they transform them–and spawn new ones. That takes more than intelligence, courage and luck; it takes divine-like vision.
Successful entrepreneurs can see through a jungle of conflicting data. The chief operating officer might want to expand into Asia, but the chief marketing officer thinks the move is premature. If ambiguity doesn’t grind you to a halt, then you might have what it takes to go big.
Most entrepreneurs do_that’s why they start their own businesses. Early, you can make the key decisions with impunity; better yet, you can do it by your own clock. Not so when the business starts growing and the to-do list scrolls past your feet. Worse, you’ll most likely have investors and board members to appease.
It’s hard enough for many of us to muster the courage to abandon our cubicles and start a small company, let alone build an empire. And while the risks pile up as businesses expand, billionaires have a confidence bordering on arrogance that checks their fear and doubt. (They also go to absurd lengths to prove to themselves that the bets they do make will pay off.) The other challenge: Amassing $1 billion means spurning tempting million-dollar offers from larger competitors and buyout shops. Now that takes true fortitude.
Many entrepreneurs start companies on raw creativity. They envision a new niche–a brand new world, even. But such imagination can get in the way when it comes time to install–and live within–the systems and processes necessary to accommodate growth.
Sure, your sister and college roommate helped launch your business, but they may grow less useful as the business outgrows them. If you’re not comfortable supplanting (or firing) them, stay small.
Companies of any significant size need a public face. Entrepreneurs who thrive on public performances–weekly meetings, shareholder gripe sessions, even television interviews–have an easier time than those who prefer to stay out of the spotlight. If public speaking isn’t your Beach but you still want to grow, find a confident substitute who can sell your story.
In most cases, the bigger your business, the more input you need from those around you. That means being willing and able to marshal consensus. Entrepreneurs with a my-way-or-the-highway mentality should think about staying small.
The bigger your business, the less time you’ll have to interact with your employees. Clearly you can’t know what’s going on in every department all the time. If you can’t delegate, forget about growing.
Anybody can hand out pink slips, but leaders of growing companies have to go a step further: They must command a certain degree of respect. As the stakes rise, you need a few drill sergeants on board. Not willing to sacrifice a little camaraderie to reach new heights? Put a cap on your growth plans.
The road to the top is paved with sacrifice. If you can stomach the idea of missing family events–and you will miss them–you might have what it takes to see Can You Deal with Isolation?
Being a billionaire can be lonely. “Friends” appear out of nowhere, and authentic relationships are harder to develop. Balanced billionaires can sniff out parasites and cultivate a loyal inner circle of people they trust and enjoy.
P.S. As always, please take a minute to leave a comment on my blog. I want it to be a conversation rather than a rant from my soapbox.
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