5 ways to Strengthen Your Business Acumen
Based on insights from an interview with Howard Getson, CEO and Founder of Capitalogix.
Howard Getson knows a thing or two about business.
Howard began his career as a lawyer, making partner in his 20s. Shortly after, he moved into the business technology realm, founding IntellAgent Control Corporation and serving as CEO and President for nearly nine years. In 2000, Howard went on to found his current venture, Capitalogix. The organization’s mission is to change the landscape of future global markets by focusing on data science, artificial intelligence, and algorithmic trading. Howard has also served on the International Entrepreneur Organization (EO) board and is presently an Advisory Board Member for The Hastings Center.
Howard is known by many to have a unique business “lens” — he approaches and views business from a valuable perspective and asks insightful questions that people wouldn’t typically think to ask.
Below, this entrepreneur and business development genius shares some of his secrets to strengthening business acumen with five applicable and straightforward tips.
Engage in Peer Groups
“It’s amazing, as a business owner, how easy it to get sucked into thinking that everyone thinks the way that you think. It’s one of the most disappointing parts of being an entrepreneur.” — Howard Getson.
If you’re reading this, chances are this is something you can relate to.
In business, there are two “archetypes”: Kings and Warriors. In any situation, even outside of business, there are the kings who strategize and the warriors who take action based on diretion. One can’t expect a warrior to know the right move to make in the King’s shoes or vice versa. Different roles in an organization create different “lenses” or perspectives on how to handle situations or priorities. This can make decision-making difficult or based on only particular perspectives of the business.
That’s where peer groups come in.
Joining or engaging in peer groups such as Genius Network, EO, or even a members forum of a service you are using, like Leverage, has been invaluable to Howard. In-person peer groups or online forums provide you with an incredible network of like-minded people going through the same life stages, business challenges, and technology questions you’re experiencing. They can warn you of potential blind-spots you might not see.
The people in these groups are there for the same reasons you are: to learn and grow. By sharing your situation or struggle, the group can offer a different business or leadership perspective that you might have been either blind to or unaware of altogether. You might be trying to solve the wrong problem or focusing on something that isn’t actually a big issue to begin with. Peer groups can bring light to that dark and lonely tunnel.
We call this “lateral thinking.” Even just listening to others conversations or watching online chats can spark ideas by learning how businesses use different tools or implement certain processes.
Mind Map Planning
One of the most prominent challenges businesses face is that they are too focused on the here and now.
Strategic planning can become much more powerful when using mind maps. Mind maps are organized in such a way that they lay out all of the functional areas needed for upcoming projects and defines the different capabilities necessary to support or develop those functional areas.
One trick Howard’s team does is color-coding the functional areas — red, green and yellow.
Red: the minimum viable product or service standard.
Yellow: where you expect to be today.
Green: a stretch goal. The top 1–2% that can be more attainable in next year’s plan.
With this system, the green labels are kept in mind, but yellow is the goal. From this, resource planning is done to determine how many hours that project should take and who should do the work. If a capability can’t be found internally or isn’t within your team’s unique ability, it should be outsourced.
Devote Time for Synchronous Communication
“The Heart of AI is still within Humans. “ — Howard Getson
Whether your team is remote or asynchronous communication dominates your office, it is vital that the leader of the business still connects with their team in person. Especially department leaders.
An entrepreneur twist to Descartes’ famous quote “I think, therefore I am” would be “I think, therefore it’s done.” To a visionary leader, details aren’t necessary but are an essential part of planning. Regular and spaced meetings with other team leaders keeps everyone on track with goals, sets expectations, and allows for better discussions.
Work with the Right People
“The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.”
This phrase is considered a core value at Capitalogix. First impressions are everything. You can tell a lot about a person, a company or a service by their email etiquette or website functionality which can give insight to their service quality.
If you’re testing software and find errors on the company website, such as broken links, chances are their product will have glitches.
This can even extend to interviewing new hires. Imagine you’re hiring a data scientist, someone who is going to be solving complex equations or developing algorithms. During your conversation or interactions with them you see them cheat at a game, take a short-cut or ask for a handout — would you want that type of person working on the core of your technology?
Just as important, take note of:
1) How you, as a person, communicate
2) Your company’s online presence
First impressions are everything and paying attention to detail, whether that be spelling, grammar or website usability, is extremely important. Set yourself up to be as professional as you want to be perceived, leaving the impression that everything you’re going to do for that person going forward will be thoughtful and of the highest quality possible.
If you can’t give something away for free, why should you expect people to pay for it?
Don’t build what you want to build, build what your audience wants. Figure out where you should be spending your time and money by testing your ideas or products on those who will be potentially buying into them.
This is where peer groups can also be extremely valuable, as their opinion will be honest, thoughtful and business-minded.
To learn more about Howard Getson and Capitalogix, visit his website.