Clay Mathile has the battle scars to show how tough he had to fight in the journey from small business owner to multibillionaire.
In 1982, Mathile bought out the company where he’d been an employee for over a decade. Under Mathile’s leadership, a little known pet food brand became an international phenomenon. Mathile guided Iams from half a million to $1 billion in sales.
Seventeen years later, in 1999, he sold the company to Procter & Gamble for $2.3 billion, cash.
Yet the journey to growth wasn’t always easy, and Mathile made mistakes so bad they brought the company “close to a haymaker”.
Now aged 72, Mathile has made it his life’s mission to teach entrepreneurs how to be successful business leaders.
His latest book, Run Your business, Don’t Let It Run You, recently featured on Fox News and Yahoo Business. It shows business owners how to use their vision and drive as catalysts for growth, rather than as reasons to micromanage employees.
All of the advice in the book is relevant to small businesses and brands, and much of it can be applied to social media strategy.
Here are the top three tips we handpicked from the book.
1. Get a Great Team Around You
Some of Mathile’s biggest mistakes include hiring a blind truck driver, and sending a sales executive who hated dogs to be the IAMs delegate at dog shows.
From these mistakes, Mathile has learned the importance of hiring the right people, and trusting them to do their job.
“By getting out of their way and letting them do their jobs, you will be supporting rather than restricting growth.”
You can’t do everything yourself. When it comes to social media, getting help might mean hiring a social marketing expert to give your business the edge on Twitter and Facebook. Or if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, it may mean hanging out with social media leaders, letting their magic rub off on you and learning from how they do things.
2. Use Social Media to Share Your Vision
For businesses with more than a handful of employees, business owners can become distant from what’s happening on the front lines.
When this happens, business owners can miss out on valuable insights from their employees. Meanwhile, employees lose their mojo, coming to work simply to collect their paycheck.
“Employees in 95 percent of private enterprises don’t know what the owner is thinking,” Mathile says. “They know the leader wants the business to grow, but she has failed to communicate why and has not articulated the mission and vision in a meaningful way that inspires employees and gives them a powerful feeling of purpose and contribution in their daily work.”
Social media tools have democratized communication. Getting your own social media account as CEO of your company can bridge the gap between you and your employees, making you more approachable and giving you a simple way to communicate your vision and inspire your team.
As Mathile says: “Your personal vision can become the lifeblood of the company.”
3. Tweet with a Plan
Ultimately, the most important thing on social media is just to plunge in and join the conversation. The same is true in business. A journey starts with a single step, and it’s far more important to take that step than to wait until all your maps are in order.
That said, to really succeed and grow on social media, you must plan (You guessed it, the same is true in business).
“Strategic planning is really a disciplined habit of continually thinking, discussing, investigating, communicating, reviewing, and learning,” Mathile says. “The only way you can turn your dreams for growing your business, making it successful and sustainable, into a reality, is by committing yourself to planning.”
Do You Want a Touch of Clay’s Magic?
Clay has invested $150 million in setting up Aileron business school in the stunning natural backdrop of Ohio. Here, business executives can learn the skills Clay used to succeed in business. Social Caffeine’s Lori Taylor will be taking the Course for Presidents this August, in just a couple of weeks. Why not join her? Places on the course are just $1,500, including follow-on support.
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