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Is a gatekeeper the right strategy?

Article provided by The Alternative Board

Everyone that has ever started a business, is currently looking for business, or wants to help other business owners has come across a gatekeeper.

In business terms, the simplest definition of a gatekeeper is that person that makes the decision whether you as the caller or sender of an email offer enough value to the person you are looking to meet with, or speak with.

The position or seniority of the gatekeeper is irrelevant when you keep in mind that this individual is trusted unconditionally to act on behalf of the business owner when it comes to who can or cannot add value to the business.

The 2019 NSBC National Small Business Survey highlights the following challenges and needs in South Africa in answer to the question, “What is the most important area where you require assistance?” –

Sales and Marketing, Business and Strategic Management, Financial Management, IT/Technology, and Digital and Social Media.

When someone from one of these critical business areas calls or sends you an email, how does your gatekeeper decide who or what to “let through”?

As a business owner facing challenges daily, weekly, or monthly, are you awake to the opportunities that come your way daily?

What are your requirements for “letting through” someone, or an email?

Do you spend time regularly on deciding who and what to “let through”?  Are you sharing this with your gatekeeper?

Have you set aside a time in your diary to regularly meet with “strangers”?  And if you haven’t or don’t, what is your plan for getting that help?

As a business owner, do you really have unconditional trust in your gatekeeper’s ability and skill to recognize what or who can and cannot add value to your business?

Unconditional trust in your gatekeeper’s ability and skill to recognize what you as the business owner will find helpful or not is what is required when you abdicate your responsibility to continuously look for opportunities to take better care of your business.

What are the responsibilities of a business owner that they abdicate to the gatekeeper?

1. Accountability

Business owners are accountable for their decisions, and the impact thereof on their business partners, their own families, their employees and themselves for their own goals. How do you measure the effectiveness of your gatekeeper, and keep them accountable if you don’t know what they allow through or not?

2. Decision making

“Vision is a decision about the company’s future, to which the company is headed. Strategy is a decision about how the company will realize its future.” Do you trust unconditionally in your gatekeeper’s ability and skill to decide on your behalf about what will help or not help you realize your strategy?

3. Leadership

The business owner has a responsibility to guide the business in the direction of its vision. How do you ensure that your gatekeeper knows who can and cannot help you with this?

4. Managing Risk

Business owners continuously work at reducing risk – uncertainty and volatility. These risks include cost of capital, suppliers, new and existing customers, technology and employees. What uncertainties are you managing that when approached with a possible solution or mitigation you believe your gatekeeper can decide on it’s possible value?

An appointed gatekeeper is not as invested in your business as you are.  And they never will be. Next time you complain about business challenges when standing around a braai, at the 19th hole, or staring at the ceiling at night think about the real value of a gatekeeper.

“A business that doesn’t change, is a business that is going to die.” – Frank Perdue.

The Alternative Board is a proud Partner of the NSBC