is like electricity - use it

“Talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.” Maya Angelou

Women’s History Month is a great time to look at the words of Maya Angelou and the lessons they have for entrepreneurs. The quote above has 3  lessons for entrepreneurs. These lessons are:

  • Appreciate that true talent is special
  • You don’t have to be able to do everything your employees do
  • Find ways to benefit from employee talent

Appreciate that true talent is special

One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is to make light of the talent of their employees. A few years ago I worked as a consultant to a solar energy company in Louisiana who employed several talented employees. Day after day, the company’s owner made light of the skills and talents of two particular employees. They mocked their education and made light of their ambitions. After a  time, this talented employee left and went to work for my client’s competitors. Long story short, my client is out of business and their competitor is still in business and enjoying the services of those talented employees.

Talented employees are a treasure. They allow you to take advantage of the old saying that “many hands make light work.” When your employees have talents that can be used to help your business, treat those talents as special. This is particularly important if you don’t possess those talents. If these talents are crucial to your business’ success respect those that have the talents so they will be encouraged to stay with you and not leave you for a competitor.

You don’t have to be able to do everything your employees do

Smart entrepreneurs know that they do not have to be able to do everything their employees can do in order to succeed in business. In fact, it is common for successful entrepreneurs to have many employees who are able to do things the entrepreneurs themselves cannot do. This means that instead of having to do it all, a smart entrepreneur simply has to know what needs to be done and then put people in place who can do it. This enables an entrepreneur to step away from doing the mundane day-to-day things and instead, concentrate on big picture and long-range concerns. Skilled, talented and able employees are one a business’ greatest treasures.  If an entrepreneur surrounds herself with talented and skilled employees she can do more than if she had to do all the work herself.

Find ways to benefit from employee talent

Talented employees are sometimes employees with big egos. In some cases, the bigger the talent, the bigger the ego. Some entrepreneurs are threatened by talented employees with big talent and big egos. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, instead of being threatened by talented employees, find ways to use those talents to benefit your business. Look for ways to use your employees’ talents and skills. Then go further, look for ways to encourage your talented employees to expand what they can do for your company. If an employee can make operations better, more efficient, more streamlined or less expensive without compromising quality, congratulate the employee for her ingenuity and let her put the new ideas into place. If you push down, downplay or make light of an employee’s talents, your risk alienating that employee. An alienated employee is more likely to leave you for your competition than a satisfied happy employee. Be creative and find ways to use your employees’ talents to make your business better.

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Entrepreneurs who want to succeed should ABL aka Always be Learning. So,  the question for you this magnificent day is,  how do you keep talented employees happy and with your company?