The Entrepreneurial G.A.P.
by Tim Staton
I have recently picked up an online friend in Africa. One thing I can tell you is that he is eager to learn everything he can about our culture. A strange mixture is created when undeveloped areas gain access to the internet. I mean a really strange mixture. My friend lives in a village without running water and where sanitation consists of pit latrines (in the village proper). An 18 km. trip to see his family in the next village means a day long hike. Electric service to his area is unreliable and, to our sensibilities, maddening. My friend makes money gathering firewood in the jungle during the off-school season. Now, if you want to really stand this situation on its head, just add internet access. Presto! Instant culture clash! Sometimes dealing with our employees about matters related to our business feels like explaining camping to my friend in the village. Let’s explore.
Frame of Reference
Most likely you are working in a business sector to which you have had decades of exposure. The idea of being in business for yourself has been cultivated over many years. The thought of being paid by the hour for your work is a distant memory and your mindset has shifted to that of business ownership. Your employees, on the other hand, are not there yet. They still face the challenges inherent to hourly work. A culture shift in their thinking from hourly to ownership can pay rich dividends to both them and you. Taking the time to explain some of the basics of our culture to my friend in Africa has made me more aware of the blessings I enjoy and more grateful as a result. As the frame of reference of your employees shifts to that of a business owner you will find yourself explaining less and enjoying more of what brought you into the world of the entrepreneur. It may be helpful to keep a couple of words in mind as you mentor your employees into this brave new world:
Patience and Passion
I can almost guarantee you that the lessons they need to learn will not coincide with your schedule. My African friend is constantly saying good morning to me just before I go to bed and asking numerous questions in the middle of my work day. Month end may not seem like an opportune time for a “learning moment” for you but don’t miss the opportunity when it presents itself. When your “student” is ready, the teacher in you should appear. Passion for what you do will convey more than you can teach. Always keep in mind that much more is “caught than taught”. Sharing your passion for entrepreneurism produces employees who think like business owners instead of hourly workers. Now that is culture shift that works!
Tim Staton is passionate about gratitude, appreciation and praise (G.A.P). He is an author, coach, public speaker and a fellow entrepreneur. Visit him at https://www.facebook.com/timstatondotcom