The feedback from my team's performance reviews floored me

Even though we’re only two years old, I started having performance reviews for my team. We talk all the time so I didn’t think it was going to be a major event. I found an appraisal form online and sent it to everyone. It asked for everyone’s input so I thought it would be a good idea.

When I got the forms back from the team, I was upset and concerned by what I read. Everyone said I was a poor and weak leader. They also said I couldn’t make decisions and they didn’t trust me. Finally, everyone said if they were offered another job, they would take it.

This was the first time I heard any of this. Why didn’t people tell me this? I had never been a manager let alone a CEO, so I had no idea whether I was doing a good or bad job.  They must have been discussing this behind my back for some time and used this as a way to give me feedback. I was so upset that I didn’t want to come into the office and I certainly didn’t want to carry out the individual reviews.

Business is for real men

This is my company and my money and I will do what I want. I don’t need Board members and investors telling me what to do. If they don’t like what I’m doing they can leave. I don’t believe in democracy and voting in business. It slows things down and causes confusion. 

The same applies to anyone who works for me. My staff do what they’re told. They can’t question or challenge me. I know what’s best. I got us to where we are. Working for me is simple. Get the work done on time and under budget. I pay better than other companies if my employees perform well. If they don’t do it right, they get fired.

I don’t believe in training and all that soft development stuff. Business is for real men. It’s war.

I thought managing my own accounts was good enough until the investors looked at my books

I own my business and did most the accounting myself using Quickbooks. I’ve never had a proper audit but I file and pay my taxes on time. I keep most of my receipts but sometimes when I was paid in cash, I just put the money in my pocket. I wasn’t taking a big salary from the business, so I thought this would be okay.

As sales increased, I needed more money to grow. I went to the bank and they went through my accounts and tax filings. They said that I was not making enough for them to give me a $100k line of credit. I told them about taking money out of the business, but I still had to agree to put my house up for collateral to get the line of credit.

Then my product featured in a national paper and later in a nationwide TV program. Sales immediately increased and three investors approached me. They all wanted to do due diligence. I thought I knew what due diligence meant, but I was shocked by how much information and detail they wanted.

They went through three years of accounts and had five pages of questions; I couldn’t answer most of them. They tried to reconcile our bank statements, accounts, and tax filings and couldn’t do it. They each concluded that we were overstating our margins and profits. I then explained how much cash I was taking out of the business.

Two investors dropped out because it was taking so much time. The remaining one had their own auditors rework the accounts. They offered to make an investment at incredibly unfavorable terms payable in tranches over two years. I had choice but to accept their offer. I wish I had good accounting in place from the start.