4 Nov 2014

What's different between entrepreneurs and turnaround managers?

As I worked in a boutique consulting firm which is good at a hands-on turnaround of a distressed firm, I have witnessed successes and failures of several turnaround managers. Now I step into an entrepreneurial world, I just summarise how I learnt would be beneficial to my entrepreneurial career going forward.

Entrepreneurs and turnaround managers appear quite different; however some important characteristics would be shared: especially, both of them have to demonstrate strong leadership to face and overcome difficult situations.

What is different?
  • Obviously, entrepreneurs are those who make one from zero, while turnaround managers are who turn minus into plus. Especially in the initial phase, turnaround managers would focus on streamlining existing operations and cost bases, while entrepreneurs try and error how to make revenues.
  • In other words, turnaround managers have to decide which existing business, products, and customers to be terminated; whilst entrepreneurs have to figure out where to start its business.
  • Entrepreneurs can do hands-on management on everyday operations as the size of the team should be small; yet turnaround managers usually have to manage multiple layers in the organisation which could have several hundreds or more employees. How to mobilise the organisational, or internal, resources  is a key for successful turnaround managers; while how to leverage external networks of different expertise is required for successful entrepreneurs. 

What is shared?
  • Sooner or later, business development, or how to make revenues, is essentially crucial to grow the company (for the first time, or again), which should deliver a good momentum among employees. Without such a momentum, initial enthusiasm will be fade out or worn out.
  • It is all about how to attract, engage, and motivate people involved; both entrepreneurs and turnaround managers have to make stakeholders believe that the company will become successful in a short time-frame. Thus a deep understanding of the nature of stakeholders are necessary to be successful.
  • Both are financially restricted very much; so a well-balanced control of money is beneficially to the firm, whetherever it is in the early development phase or distress.
  • Everyone is neither perfect nor a superstar, therefore a team of management, especially how top two or three people interact and communicate, would determine the success or failure of the firm.
This view should be changed after my entrepreneurial journey, which I look forward to experiencing now!!

I hope I won't die like this, after working too hard and long :-p

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