What Small Business Owners Can Learn from the Uber Fiasco

October, 2017

The fall of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick offers valuable lessons for small business owners. From my perspective, Kalanick did not understand or appreciate his limitations and the ramifications of his actions. Both are common management failures.

As the owner of a small business, you need to know your limitations. But knowing what you don’t know can be challenging. And sometimes egos get in the way, as with Uber.

Most small business owners inherently know when they enter areas where they lack knowledge or experience. But these same owners are also comfortable making quick decisions and moving on to the next challenge. Frequently, they fail to recognize all the risks involved.

A competent and experienced management team is the first line of defense against your limitations. A team with different strengths and talents is essential to a company’s success. Hiring in your own image, like many new business owners do, results in duplication of talent and one of you becomes redundant.

Uber apparently hired many individuals with the same interests and talents. This created an “us and them” mentality, resulting in a weak and dysfunctional management team. A “frat” environment was created, problems accelerated and the CEO finally had to step down. Uber would have been stronger with a diversified and experienced management team with different skill sets and talents that was confident enough to discuss management issues openly.

A company needs talent in a variety of areas, like production, operations, management, accounting, finance, human resources, legal, insurance, technology, sales and marketing.

This diversification of talent can be achieved for smaller companies by combining the hiring process with an advisory board or advisory team. Your attorney, CPA and banker can help supply the needed skills until the company can afford to hire someone full time. As a business owner, you might know some experienced managers (even retired ones can work) who would be willing to help. The SBA Score/ACE program can be a worthwhile resource, as can your Chamber of Commerce.

 

Reg Baker Nov 2015 bReg Baker has been a CPA and nationally recognized small business consultant for over 30 years. He serves on the SBA’s National Board of Directors for Regulatory Fairness and chairs Region IX. He also chairs the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee and is a two-time winner of the SBA’s Financial Services Advocate for the state of Hawaii. Baker hosts the Business in Hawaii Show for ThinkTech Hawaii.

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Reg Baker