Run your business for power or profit?

“For both” – I hear you responding internally. This is the obvious answer that most entrepreneurs would give if they were to be honest about it. Let’s be clear: We all want profit, but most of us also enjoy the feeling of importance attached to being the owner or the CEO. It is our brilliance that has created all these jobs and it is our magnanimity that keeps our employees and their families happy and prosperous.

This sounds like an altruistic statement, but turns out this type of thinking can be very dangerous. The sense of omnipotence can turn us entrepreneurs into monsters when we start believing the adulation that we unconsciously demand of the staff. Remember all those dictators who have gotten carried away by their self-generated personality cult?

I am exaggerating of course, but not that much. It is comfortable being surrounded by people who appear to love us and hold us in high esteem. I have seen several business owners that felt like the fish out of water after they sold their business and stopped being courted by their squadron of paid devotees. It is a weird feeling.

I believe most business owners want both, but unfortunately, these objectives are at cross-purposes. If you want power first, then you will have to sacrifice profit, as the best leaders demand and get autonomy and will not join or leave your business. So you will have to generate profits with a second rate team that are willing to be bossed around.

If you want profit first, then you will need the humility to attract great people. Great people will not butter you up, as they will look at you as someone more successful than they are who doesn’t need cheap flattery.

So what do you want, power or profit? If the latter, then get off the high horse of the omnipotent business owner, hire people that are better than you and get the hell out of their way.

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