Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Power versus a To-Do list

You know, it's cool having a real business. I've played at business so many times and in so many ways it was a bit depressing. I've said, "I've formed a company." My company has been able make a little money, even after paying expenses, salary, and taxes. But the truth of the matter is, it takes more than a couple words and a website to make a real company. It's not about the initial effort, it's about continued effort. When Tony and I formed Lone Star Games it finally got serious for me. And I love it.

My love for businesses comes from a few places. The first place is probably my love for a stage. Not the theatre, but I have always been comfortable in front of a crowd, and leaders get more attention than followers.

The second place is probably my long-term interest in power / leadership / management. I know the order of that may put some of you off, but this was how I was introduced to the concepts. In high school I read The Prince by Machiavelli. Then The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I found them interesting and I wondered what I would do with power. Then I studied leadership, and taught it. Then I went into management.

The third place is my desire to solve puzzles. Not that I care about games, but I like to solve problems; it gives my overactive and underutilized mind something to do. And whether it is because of the above or just chance, I happen to like solving business problems.

Now, I'm not claiming to be good in management, leadership, or power. I've had plenty of successes and more than most by many counts, but I've also learned what the truly successful do. And a few success is not in the same league as the successful.

Additionally, I've mellowed. Along with learning the difference between the desire for power and weilding it, leading and managing, motivating and exasperating, stellar performance and just getting by, I've also learned, and largely come to accept that as good (or lucky) as I am and as much as I want to exceed, I'm not great.

But I'm still fascinated by business, the processes that make them successful, and filled with the desire to achieve. And I've learned good systems are the way to take mediocre to outstanding. Combine that with hard work and a little luck, and you've got yourself something to be proud of.

Now that I have a going concern my nights are not filled with a wonder of what I would do anymore. I still want to hear about other people's business problems, because I like to think of solutions, but I don't need that to fill my time. With Lone Star I have plenty of issues to figure out for myself. And I need to do them right now.

For example, here are some of the issues on my plate. They are in no particular order, other than I need to get answers to them all with hours or days, and the item with the longest term still needs to have some action within the next two weeks.

  • hire another employee
  • make payroll
  • finalize product pricing
  • develop grand opening plan
  • market to APL and LPR
  • review schedule
  • write HR procedures
  • review register procedures
  • follow-up on procedures for deposits
  • re-write employee handbook
  • approve business flier
  • print stickers w/logo for shopping bags
  • develop sales script
  • learn new poker chip trick
  • select next mall to open location
  • order more product
  • negotiate shipping rates
  • update website
  • figure out online retail store
  • apply for rights to use CLC images
  • find local table manufacture
  • list Grand Opening procedures
  • borrow copy of standard lease for mall
  • and the list goes on...

Mark Cuban was right when he said, "You only have to be right once." And I'm glad to have traded in my early dreams of power for today's to-do list.

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