Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Dakine & being an entrepreneur.

    Last year we overheard a business story about the founder of Dakine. As the story goes, the business followed a common small business trajectory growing from a passion for a product, to a small, medium and ultimately large sized company. During the years of growth consultants, middle managers & new partners emerged to debate what the ‘next vision’ of the business Dakine should be. Eventually, Dakine’s founder would (almost literally) walk into the boardroom, throw the keys in the air & agree to a fair buy out, only to return & regain control of the company a few years later and resuscitate both profitability & purpose after it had tanked under the 'next vision'. 

The story resonated with us on many levels.

  • we are small business owners.
  • we have experienced the challenges with scaling small business while maintaining the x-factor that differentiated the business in the 1st place.
  • at one time or another, we’ve likely contemplated throwing the keys in the air.
Having said that we’re more than savvy around the fact

  • there is an equal proportion of success stories involving input from consultants, middle managers & new partners.
  • there are going to be periods of struggle as small businesses scale.
  • at one time or another, our people have likely contemplated throwing their keys at us.
The point of this illustration is to highlight the importance of the entrepreneur, without whom, many people’s livelihoods, ambitions and incomes would not be available. The entrepreneur faces the greatest amount of scrutiny, risk & criticism. If the business is successful a smart entrepreneur points to their team as the reason. If the business is a failure, all fingers lead to the entrepreneur. In the meantime, there’s always someone who thinks because they have a high level position in banking, they are experts in making cool snowboard equipment. Further, there’s always someone who has no business acumen or experience that has feedback on your product; how it should be delivered & how it could be better or your business.

Over time, if you let this noise get in your head, you will begin to drink. It starts with one drink / night just to “take the edge off”. Eventually it escalates until you’re drinking 2-4, 5 days a week and binging on the weekends. You begin to;

  • avoid going into work
  • feel like you are on an island.
  • join a local business network group so you can all complain about your staff together
But what’s really tragic is letting the noise get to you to the point where you lose your passion and (in Dakine fashion) walk in, throw the keys..... and pack it in.  This isn't good for anyone.

While being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, it is a necessary role in our business ecosystem. Think about the scrutiny other leaders must have faced when designing, creating and launching their businesses. The true testament of any entrepreneur is their ability to stick with, find solutions & celebrate the victories be they from short / medium or long term investments while blocking out the irrelevant.

And for those who have made the decision to work for an entrepreneur the best advice we can give is listen twice as much as you speak, jump two feet into the systems that have been created for you to succeed and contribute to the growth & profitability (in every sense of the word) of the business you’ve chosen to represent. We need great businesses to thrive. Great business start with great ideas. These ideas come from entrepreneurs. We need to think about fertilizing them instead of watering them down.  


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