What Disciplines Do Entrepreneurs, Lifestyle Enterprise Owners, and Executives Really Have to Know?
Business disciplines include subject areas such as finance and accounting, marketing and sales, operations, and information technology. However, subjects related to the humanities and social sciences are just as relevant, given that business is all about people. By understanding individual preferences, such as values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, enterprises can better relate, build a rapport, and interact with their constituencies, and manage their human resources.
New entrepreneurs and lifestyle business enterprise owners, and to some extent executives and managers, are often somewhat astounded by the breadth and depth of knowledge and skills that they require to earn a profit. Without education and experience, they have to rely upon either their intuition or senses, or both, to assess situations and make decisions that influence, convince, or persuade employees to perform, customers to buy, suppliers to deliver, investors to finance, and competitors to retreat.
Lifestyle enterprise owners have a major burden because they are solely responsible for their enterprises, have personal capital and livelihood at risk, and are constrained by time and money.
Beyond finance and accounting, marketing and sales, operations, and information technology, other overlapping disciplines that impact business include: economics, engineering, program and project management, politics, philosophy, physiology, sociology, and psychology. Environmentalism is an emerging philosophical and social discipline.
It may be difficult to imagine entrepreneurs, lifestyle enterprise owners, executives, and managers as philosophers, sociologists, or psychologists. However, understanding individual values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, and crafting enterprise values statements and guiding principles, missions, and visions are consequences of these disciplines among others. This understanding is essential to positioning the enterprise and its products and/or services in the marketplace. The impact of misunderstanding how markets accept and use products and/or services can be significant, especially if there is potential for a major loss of capital.
Formulating strategy requires knowledge of competitive, economic, environmental, political, regulatory, social, and technological trends. Strategy impacts marketing and sales, operations, finance, information technology, and human resources.
The economics discipline addresses the production, distribution, and consumption of products and/or services. The factors of production include land, labor, and capital. Economics addresses human behavior related to scarcity. Economic models describe the effects of price and quantity on supply and demand in competitive markets. However, in a networked society of telecommunications and the internet, human behavior is also determined by abundance of nodes. For example, cell phones, email, and websites have utility when there is a critical mass of users, and a network operating at scale.
The engineering discipline addresses the transformation of natural capital into items that are useful and beneficial to people. Both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are often engaged in structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering opportunities for both consumable and durable products, and the related facilities and equipment. Agriculture, mining, oil and gas, construction, and manufacturing are engineering-based industries. However the engineering mindset has been applied to financial and information management disciplines also.
Program and project management...
The program and project management disciplines address the transformation of ideas into value. Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, and enabling technologies to the development of new or enhanced products and/or services, processes, and systems, including facilities and equipment. Program management is both a function that coordinates the management of projects across the enterprise, and a set of techniques.
The politics discipline addresses governance, authority, and power, and how decisions are made, both individually and collectively, to formulate plans, policies, and programs. However, individuals "play politics" by positioning themselves for authority and power or protection, often at the expense of the enterprise and its constituencies.
Government agencies establish laws and regulations that impact business enterprises in terms of licensing, fees and taxes, and compliance reporting.
The philosophy discipline addresses understanding and knowledge, and is the practice of developing concepts and guiding principles that impact attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors. This discipline is relevant to the development of aspirational and inspirational statements that motivate followers to action, including employees, customers, suppliers, investors, regulators, and competitors. Such messages are not only used in transformational and empowered leadership situations, but also in enterprise and product and/or service branding, which impacts marketing and advertising, and ultimately sales.
Physiology and sociology...
The physiology discipline addresses human function. Physiological considerations are necessary for compliance with occupational, safety, and health laws and regulations, and for product design. The sociology discipline addresses how individuals are influenced by groups, and the products and/services that they either use or avoid. Such understanding is particularly useful in mass marketing efforts, and in the definition of market segments.
The psychology discipline addresses the human mind and behavior, and is essential to understanding the preferences of employees, customers, suppliers, investors, regulators, and competitors. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Jung's Psychological Types are two examples of psychological theories that are relevant to business.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs states that human needs are instinctive and characterized by levels of motivation for satisfying deficiencies or growth, and hence products and/or services. Maslow suggested that everybody has a "philosophy of the future" - what their ideal life would be like in about five years time. Their answer reveals where they are today - useful input for strategic planning, product development, marketing and sales.
Jung's Psychological Types are personality models and styles from which many personality tests used in business are derived. Every individual has a personality style - specific personality characteristics that determine their preferences.
Every entrepreneur, lifestyle enterprise owner, executive, and manager has to know their own personal style and those of others. Understanding personal styles:
- Increases the likelihood of success in both social and professional relationships...
- ...which is based upon the ability to relate, to build a rapport, and to interact with others by...
- ...being able to entertain, inform, convince, persuade, and negotiate with them
By understanding personal styles, the humanities and social sciences disciplines can be applied using the enterpriship model - transforming mindset into action with relationships and order based upon the preferences of constituencies. That way, theoretical concepts earn practical value.
Understanding personal styles is an enterpriship (entrepreneurial, leadership, and management) competency.