What Is Business Afraid Of?


I was having coffee recently with several of my coaching clients.  These few “solo-preneurs” who out of necessity established a business.  They are experts, experts in their profession, experts and not only problem solving but also problem preventing.  They established their business because necessity demanded it.  The necessity of food, shelter, and clothing.  In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, these are considered basic needs, the needs of survival.  Success became secondary to their needs.

The rest of the story is provocatively compelling…

So here I sat, with a few experts discussing why they went into business.  You may find it interesting that not only was there a consensus about why there was actually a complete unanimous agreement on why. The reason was fear.  Do not assume at this point that they were afraid, on the contrary, they were not.  The fear they speak of is the fear of business in hiring them.  These are individuals who were not sales professionals yet each of them brought 10’s and in a couple of cases 100’s of millions of dollars to the bottom line of their employers.  They were experts at refining the processes they worked within, experts at measuring, interpreting and executing within those processes.  Each of them spent several years in the job market seeking a new role.  Each of them was willing, within reason, to relocate anywhere in the US to do this.  None of them were hired, hundreds of resumes sent and few responses.  Each could count the number of interviews they had using no more than both hands.  No offers of employment were ever received.  Sometimes they received feedback, other times they did not.  Sometimes they received honest feedback.

For example:

  • I am not going to bring in someone who knows more about the work we do than I.  I need my job and will not be pushed out.
  • The team felt you were not a good fit because your experience in our new venture areas far exceeds theirs; they want to grow with promotions too and felt that you would get in their way.
  • The accomplishments you have is phenomenal.  I am afraid that record of achievement will intimidate my executive team.

One who has never experienced that might say it is made up.  I too have heard these same rejections prior to my deciding to keep on Advising and Coaching.  I was even once offered a Job only to see it withdrawn over the weekend because, to quote the CEO, “Some felt you were too financially focused on the results of your job. They want someone who will care and nurture our employees.”  Uh huh…

So as we continued our conversation I asked the question, “Why do you think they used those reasons to reject your candidacy?  “Simple”, several of them said, “they are afraid of us and are afraid of real success.”  Others said, “they saw us as a threat to their jobs that they were mediocre at best in.” One could sense some understandable bitterness from these very good professionals.

What is business afraid of?

More experienced workers, without regard to how many decades, how many grey hairs or how old they are, should be highly sought after by any business.  Yet they continue to seek less expensive less experienced workers without realizing a key part of their flawed strategy.   The business has developed a flawed strategy because they are focusing on controlling costs instead of acquiring the Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Experience, and Behaviors that will drive high performance and profits for the business.

Much has been said about the apparently growing lack of skilled and talented workers in the US. According to the Wall Street Journal in a July 2014 article, 33% of small-business owners and chief executives said they had unfilled job openings in June because they couldn’t identify qualified applicants, up from 31% of 811 owners nearly two years prior.  This has not changed yet business insists on hiring lesser qualified less experienced workers.

According to a Stanford University study, “By 2020, older {experienced} workers age 55+ will account for 25% of the U.S. labor force, up from just 13% in 2000.” With that knowledge and the increasing demand for a skilled workforce in an environment of an inability to find good workers, the solution is obvious. These experienced workers bring great value and should not be discounted for any reason.

It is no secret that all workplace issues, both good and bad, are managed by strong leadership. Because of their experience in both personal and professional situations, these workers are well positioned to help train, mentor, and coach future leaders. This helps ensure that leadership is a major contributing positive influence on your business.