Throughout this blog I have maintained a close focus on the entertainment industry and the technology related to the advancement of the industry. Additionally, I have included a number of posts that were directly related to the course work that I have been doing while completing my Masters degree. However, these are all impersonal matters generated from external sources.
Being a leader, and a success in business, requires the ability to focus internally. You must be an independent thinker with the capacity for originality. With that in mind I would like to take this opportunity to write about my personal beliefs in regards to how a business should be run. Since these views are an intrinsic part of how I build and run my business ventures I feel that this is an appropriate forum to express my thoughts.
The three most important aspects of my business philosophy are Employee Relations, Diversification, and the Value of Minimal Returns. These three concepts work in tandem with one another, and are at the core of my business model. They are also elements that I have seen either neglected or abandoned by other businesses.
First is Employee Relations. This is what most companies refer to as Human Resources, which is a moniker that I take issue with. Names have power. This is a known fact, and is the reason why publicity firms are hired to determine the best names for movies, books, and companies. Yet, the name Human Resources is still used despite the fact that it sounds like individual people are nothing more than fuel for a machine that can be used up and disposed of. For that reason, I insist on using the term Employee Relations. The people who work for me have special skills, and they were hired for the unique abilities that set them apart.
In terms of Employee Relations, it is my belief that a company should do everything in its’ power to improve the lives of those who work for the good of the corporation. If you expect employees to respect their jobs and the company that they work for you must actively show them that the company has the same respect for both them and the positions that they hold. Employees will not respect a company that does not respect them. This is why I make a point of actively pursuing positive reinforcement. People need to feel appreciated.
Additionally, I believe in maintaining the largest number of employees that my company can support. That may sound horribly unorthodox during a time period when every other business is talking about “trimming the fat”. But, my view is that every employee is a customer. And, they bring with them all of their friends and family. Each person on the payroll is a representative of twenty other people. And, each of those people represents the type of “word of mouth” advertising that every company so desperately wants.
Also, when it comes to that "word of mouth" advertising there is one key factor that no publicity firm on the planet can achieve. They can get strangers to say nice things about your company, but they cannot get someone to stand up in a crowded bar and yell, “Hey! My aunt works there!” when a stranger is saying something negative about your business.
People only develop an emotional connection with a business that proves it cares about the people whom it represents. And, people only fight for the things that they have an emotional connection with. If your people don't think that you care about them, then they will never fight for you.
Supporting that belief is the second element of my philosophy, Diversification. Right now every other business is eliminating all of their sideline endeavors in an attempt to “focus on their core business”. That roughly translates as, “we’re putting all of our effort into the one thing that makes the most money”. Or, as I call it, “putting all of their eggs in one basket”.
The problem with minimalizing a company’s diversified output is the same as reducing advertising. The less you do, the less you are known. In addition to that, many potential side businesses are actually methods for reducing overhead for the primary business venture.
As an example, I am currently producing a television sitcom that takes place in a tattoo shop. If I followed the industry standard practice of renting a soundstage and building a temporary set the pilot alone would cost 3.1 million dollars. Instead, I opened a functional tattoo shop and I shoot the show there on the days when the tattoo shop is closed. This has eliminated 2.9 million dollars from my budget. And, savings on expenditures translates into revenue.
Businesses like this are called self-liquefying assets. They may not generate any substantial profits, but they pay for themselves. And, in this particular case, the side business is saving the primary business millions of dollars. The major corporations seem to be oblivious to this concept. They spend money, and then consider the money to be gone. It is an extravagant waste that the current economy cannot support.
The key to successful diversification is ensuring that you have multiuse establishments. Success can be advanced and enhanced by starting multiple businesses that compliment one another. Once you set up your first business you just need to take a look around and figure out what you are spending the most money on. Then, start another business that does whatever it is that you have been spending the most money on.
Through that process you eliminate your greatest expenses, and you can reach out to your competition in order to make money off of them. Your main competitor may be making 30% more than you are on their primary business, but once you factor in that they are buying their supplies from your subsidiary you are making more money than them. And, the more small businesses that your primary corporation owns, the more this process is accentuated.
This then leads to the third aspect of my greater business concept, the Value of Minimal Returns. Most businesses would sneer at an investment with a minimal profit margin. I happen to firmly believe that any profit is a positive. If a business only has a return of one thousand per year, my response is that I need to open one thousand more businesses so that I can make a return of one million per year. It is my deeply held belief that no profit is too small. Because, if you have enough small profits they will add up to create a large profit. It just takes a bit more work.
And, that is the problem with other companies. They don’t want to do the work. They want instant gratification and large returns with minimal effort. But, the world does not work that way. If you want solid returns you must be willing to work for it. The reason corporate leaders have the highest salary isn’t because they had the best connections to get them the job. It’s because they have to work harder than everyone else in order to ensure that all of the employees under them are still in a position to feed their children.
One of the most disgusting things that I have ever see was when Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP during the gulf spill, went on the news and said that he could identify with the victims who lost their jobs and homes because he wanted everything to go back to the way it used to be. For him that meant playing polo and doing nothing. He had no sympathy for the people his company hurt. He just didn’t want to have to do his actual job. That is why so many companies are failing. They just don’t want to have to work for a living. They want the money to show up without having to put in the hours that it takes in order to earn a sizable profit.
The Value of Minimal Returns is based solidly upon this. No amount of work is too great if you are at the top and there are people depending on you to keep their jobs. No amount of profit is too small if the business is still turning any amount of profit. Layoffs should only happen after the CEO is working for free and every other option has been exhausted. It is about leaders taking personal responsibility. It is about placing value upon the lives and families of those who put their trust in you to lead them. It is about the fact that both of the previous elements that I mentioned are reinforced by this concept.
This may seem like an idealist tangent by a youth who knows little of life. It is not. I am a man who is old enough to have his doctors complaining about the condition of my knees and my eating habits. I have been on every end of the business structure over the last few decades. My beliefs are based entirely on the experiences that I have had, the problems I have seen at companies where I worked that have since gone under, and my own personal knowledge of what both customers and low-level employees need in order to believe in a business.
With the businesses that I now own, and the ones that I am in the process of starting, I have proven that my philosophy has a tangible merit. I entered into the business community with hardly any start-up capital, and in a relatively brief time I am already on the road to obtaining major returns. Regardless of what disagreements anyone might have with my beliefs in how a business should be run, I am actively proving that my system works. And, every time another mega-corp collapses under the weight of its’ own incompetence it only makes me look better. That just makes me more determined to prove that a positive, proactive, hard-working approach to business is the only way that we can ever save the American economy. I know that I am right. And, at this very moment, I am proving it.