Small Business Owners Should Practice “Tough Love” Expert Says “Benevolent Dictators” Are More Effective Small Business Leaders Topic Summary Whether it’s recession time or boom time, small business owners should look at the way they operate in order to maximize their revenues. Many small businesses are run a little loosely, because many owners believe they lack the overhead and the staff to require a lot of strict policies and procedures. That’s a mistake, according to Jim Muehlhausen, CPA and author of The 51 Fatal Business Errors and How To Avoid Them, from Emerald Publishing (www.51errors.com). “Every business owner is enrolled in the world’s most expensive business school: The School of Hard Knocks,” Muehlhausen said. “Instead of acquiring business knowledge the slow and expensive way, business owners need to capitalize on the hard-fought lessons of others. That’s why benevolent dictators are the best small business leaders, because ruling by committee against that landscape rarely works.” Discussion Topics How can I drop out of the School of Hard Knocks? Why should I stop hiring my competitor’s rejects? How do I handle the people in my company that are constantly saying, “Yeah, but…” every time the company tries to make a change? Why is the best leader a benevolent dictator? What are the top five most common errors made by small business CEOs? How can a CEO make the most of the institutional memory of his staff without turning the company into a democracy? Does being an authoritarian automatically mean that a CEO can’t also be nice to the staff, as well? Topic Overview Small Business face more challenges than the large corporations with huge cash reserves to help them through financial crises. They are more susceptible to market fluctuations, have fewer clients to support them and generally have more transient staff. On the flip side, they also make up 70 percent of the businesses in the U.S., so as goes small business, so goes the economy. In order to swim with the big fish without getting eaten, Jim Muehlhausen suggests that small business owners get a little tougher and smarter to survive the nasty water. Muehlhausen also stressed that CEOs need to be benevolent dictators to be more effective. “Managing employees is a lot like parenting,” he said. “Employees may not like what you do, but you’ll have to do it, anyway. Many CEOs are afraid to be authoritarian, but they should do it, anyway. They should remember two things – first, being authoritarian does not mean you can’t be nice, and second, it’s the CEO’s name on the big door. No one else will be blamed for the failure of staff.” About Jim Muehlhausen Jim Muehlhausen CPA, JD has had articles feature in numerous publications including Businessweek.com, Entrepreneur, Inc., Indianapolis Business Journal, The Small Business Report, Undercar Digest, Digitrends and NAICC Legal Journal. Jim graduated from Valparaiso University with a B.S. in Accounting, passing the CPA exam while still in college. While subsequently attending the Indiana University School of Law, he became the youngest franchisee in Meineke Discount Muffler history (1987-1991). After successfully selling that business, Jim founded an automotive aftermarket manufacturing concern. During his 9-year tenure, the company achieved recognition from Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School and Inc. Magazine in the IC 100 Fastest Growing Businesses. Over the past eight years, Jim has personally coached hundreds of business owners in more than 3,500 face-to-face coaching sessions and has clients in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
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