- I have around KD1.5 million to invest. Should I start and manage a new business or invest in an existing one?
Managing a new business needs patience, nerves of steel, and strategic planning. A global formula suggests that 80% of newly established businesses fail by the third year. The financial tsunami that the world has been affected by might even shorten the three years period. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that an authentic idea has no chance of succeeding, just have real expectations so as not to be disappointed. Although cash is king, it’s not everything. You need to be sure of your own management style. Some entrepreneurs get quite a rush from transforming a new business with endless challenges into a strong brand. Others like to hit the ground running with large and successful existing businesses, and then expand.
The right kind of investment can give you good returns with little or no involvement. However, there are no guarantees. The type of business you’ll invest in, market conditions, skills of the management team, and many other factors affect your ROI. The difficult part – depending on whether you’re a major shareholder or not – is that you might not always have the legal right to influence the direction of the business to what you see fit. The benefit, on the other side, is that you’re free to explore other interests in business or in life. Either way, get into things you know and have a passion for. If losing your capital will jeopardize your financial security, you might want to invest less than the amount you allocated. No need to sweat right from the start…and that’s just my two cents.
- Our new management team is pushing new tasks on me that I have no experience in. I don’t want to be involved in projects that I might not perform well in because I’m not good at them. How can I get out of such tasks?
The more interesting question is: Should you? You’re in a comfort zone and you may not have developed trust in your new management yet. So, your natural reaction is to get into your shell and wait for things to go back to how they were. There’s a rule in martial arts: The best way to avoid being hurt by a throw is to roll with it. Instead of resisting change, which is a natural human reaction, be open to exploring the new experience. You might learn something new from it and add to your expertise. Yes, you might not deliver to the best standards, but that’s the nature of learning and development. Just do your best and pay attention to all aspects of your role, while keeping an eye on the impact of your contribution on the overall project.
However, before you submerge yourself in the new direction, ask your manager about how the new skills you’ll gain will add value to your career path. Also, if your involvement in new projects will affect your main deliverables and productivity, you must flag it with your management before accepting the new responsibilities. This way, if other areas are negatively affected, your management has been already informed. And talking about it after the effect is not the same as addressing it before you start the new project, regardless of how obvious you may think it should be to your management, the reality in most cases is that it’s not as obvious. If all the above didn’t change your mind, remember that managers have the legal right to ask employees to perform new tasks…and that’s just my two cents.
- Help! Our CEO is planning to announce a public policy to hire only nationals and make it clear that the company has no interest in hiring foreigners. He wants to time this announcement with the National Day celebrations believing that it’s more patriotic. I’m concerned about the company coming across as racist. Should I try to persuade him off of it?
Worldwide, the citizens of any country take priority in recruitment over expatriates. In some markets, companies are not allowed to hire foreign employees until they release an ad in the local papers and prove that no local candidate has the right skills or makes a good fit within the team. Yet, rejecting a candidate based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender or any form of personal circumstances is illegal in many countries. Your CEO could be walking on eggshells with this PR announcement. Before anything is said and done, the legal department has to approve the act of making this policy public to avoid any legal consequences.
If and only if it’s legal, then the company needs to examine its major customers’ segments. If the majority of your customers are local citizens who will see this policy as patriotic, then you’re safe. If you have a mix of foreign and local customers, then you might want to think twice before going out of your way to lose customers and hand them on a silver platter to competition. How would your current expatriate employees feel about this policy? Are their jobs safe? Will they not fit in with the new culture that will develop soon? How will this new vibe affect productivity? Brands may be described in words that are usually associated with human beings, but a company is not an individual, it’s an entity, and CEOs have to think twice before mixing their own likes and dislikes with the company’s reputation…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.