Effective Entrepreneurs Get Stuff Done

Bruce Dugan and Kiran kumar of Incognito Worldwide
Incognito Attends Digital Now
June 12, 2014

Get stuff done is at the root of any business venture.  It may sound trivial, but many startups strategize themselves right out of business because they don’t get stuff done! People often ask me “how to start a business?” Launching a business and turning it into a revenue-generating enterprise is daunting. Becoming self-sustaining and profitable all the more so.

However, that is just the warm-up drill; the real chore is to stabilize, manage and grow that business in an ever-changing world.

This is especially true for my own company Intech Creative LLC, a software technology company and it’s wholly-owned subsidiary Incognito Worldwide. New frameworks, platforms and tools are evolving in the marketplace every day, creating the delicate balance between “doing” and “learning”, something required to remain viable in a rapidly-changing technology universe.

According to Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive officer, the world creates 5 exabytes of data every two days. That is roughly the same amount created between the dawn of civilization and 2003. Take a moment to absorb that concept!

With all the data being created, technology is expanding and evolving at an exponential rate to accommodate it. Cloud computing has become all the rage; mobile is in its infancy and still mind-boggling, and Big Data has become the new holy grail to data-mining and company planning. And while the new Microsoft Surface software and the flexible tablets [being developed by Plastic Logic and Intel] are amazing, the next five years — with holographic computers — will make many futuristic sci-fi films look severely out of date.

Every entrepreneur has different skill sets. Some are great visionaries, but terrible managers. Others are great with people-interaction yet poor with content and business process. So when people ask “how to start a business?” I ask them “What are you passionate about, and what do you excel at?” Those are to me the two most important questions a would be entrepreneur can ask themselves.

Whether your strength is abstract, analytical, or managerial, those that thrive and succeed are those that recognize their own shortcomings as well as they recognize their strengths. And like a basketball team built around a great scorer, for example, can assemble a team to enhance their strengths and fill the gaps of their own shortcomings.

don't procrastinateThe older we get the less insatiable our ego-driven appetite becomes. This is a good thing. While a healthy ego is a needed ingredient for success, one also requires a bit of humility — to not only openly admit our shortcomings to others, but ourselves, which in turn allows us the willingness to seek out and acquire the skills and knowledge we lack.

Having said that however, never before has there been so much information. Never before has it come at us at such blinding speeds: blink and you’ve just missed something key. How do we stay ahead, or at least keep up to such a rapidly changing marketplace without having our heads overload?

We can’t.  

So the answer seems pretty clear: we need to assemble our own “A” teams; made up of passionate employees that we can nurture, motivate [to become experts in their area of contribution], and apply that knowledge for the benefit of the team.

This makes the hiring of the right employees key to any potential success for a business in this new millennium. It spotlights the need for intelligent teams, collaboration across departments and pay-grades.

In the old days a few rock stars could carry a company. No longer. The newly-birthed enterprises that will take the pass-off — and carry the leadership torch in the future — will be those that bring together knowledge-based coordinated teams that can flex and adjust to the currents, without breaking.

Get Stuff Done

In a recent New York Times interview,  Adam Bryant talked with Kris Duggan, C.E.O. and a co-founder of Badgeville, which designs game-based programs for businesses.

Mr. Duggan identifies the new framework for young companies –from how to hire, share goals, how to codify the values of an organization, and establish the company culture.

When it comes to hiring, Mr. Duggan notes that there are some basic priciples he adheres to:

1. the most important thing is to have a framework that everybody in the company knows. So make is simple.

2. hire people who are experts in their domain. It’s really about excellence.

3. I’m looking for “sparkle.” Is this person contagiously enthusiastic? 

4. look for people who just get stuff done. We’re very focused on metrics — we have goals and controls, and everybody in the company has them. Its empowering and transparent. 

5. require every candidate to do homework; provide an assignment without guidelines or timelines to see what they do with it; it reveals knowledge, process and commitment.

Mr. Duggan spoke about goals: “I think organizations have a hard time communicating up and down the chain of command and getting everybody mobilized to focus on the same goals. I’ve experienced that firsthand — whatever your task or scope of work, you don’t know how that connects to your manager and your manager’s manager, and how that is all kind of interconnected.”

Within my own company of seventeen, I often cite and recite over and over again the short-term and long-term goals of the company, and the tasks required to get us there. Still, it is at times, for me, like trying to herd a pack of wild cats; you no sooner get one in the box (focused and comprehending) and three others are out of the box wandering about.  

Yet cross-department understanding of goals is worth investing the time in achieving. In this day and age a company has to breathe together; each expertise and energy a piece of the overall living brain of the company, which can thrive or suffocate.

Bruce Dugan
Bruce Dugan
A career entrepreneur, he has also served as CEO in several publicly-traded companies. He founded and operated a variety of companies in the areas of freight logistics, music distribution, film, technology and media, and is currently the tri-Chairman & CEO of Incognito Worldwide, Intech Creative LLC and Inicia Incorporated.

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