Readers of this blog know that although the Founder’s Mentality is a great strength for any company, the founder himself or herself can sometimes be a weakness, especially as the company is seeking to scale. This week, The Wall Street Journal’s Experts Blog ran my blog on “Three common mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting to expand,” which details four common traits of the westward winds we refer to as “unscalable founder.” I hope you enjoy it and will consider sharing it if it resonates within your company. […]
I wrote this on my flight from Fuzhou to Shanghai after a wonderful set of meetings with the founders and president of Yonghui Superstores. This is an amazing Chinese success story, although the founders are the first to warn that it is far too early to claim victory. It is also a perfect case study of how founders can professionalize their fast-growing company and prevent it from aging prematurely without straying from their Founder’s MentalitySM.
The two Zhang brothers—Xuansong (the current chairman) and Xuanning (the CEO)—launched their first stores in Fuzhou in 1998. They experimented with nine smaller-format stores before opening their 10th store in 2000 using the Yonghui brand and format. Their mission was to provide the mass consumer with safe, fresh produce at reasonable prices. Their one major business-model innovation was to buy fresh food directly and sell it themselves (vs. working through distributors and having others sell fresh food via concession). […]
At the most recent FM100 meeting in Jakarta, as members discussed the “Monday morning” actions they would take when they returned to their companies, one member said he needed to “zero-base” his center.
This thought came as he reflected on the westward winds that were killing his business—the lost voices of the front line and the erosion of accountability. A lot of zero-basing exercises start with the ideal and then add complexity to address obstacles to this ideal. Let’s examine these two items. […]