During a presentation by an investment company, one of the attendees asked what the three most important criteria are for investing in a company. The partner’s answer was short and clear:

  1. Management
  2. Management
  3. Management

In a time where technology and innovation dominate the headlines daily and act as game-changers in all conceivable sectors and industries – affecting our entire society – this is the most powerful and accurate summation that does justice to our essence as entrepreneurs. A well-functioning and profitable company ultimately results from one thing: management.

An entrepreneur without a plan is like a ship without a captain. If you don’t know where you want to go, any road you choose will lead you there. Johan Cruyff once said, “I have a terrible dislike for someone who moves but doesn’t know where to go.” That’s why having a plan is essential. Your mission, your vision, your strategy make the difference. It provides so much energy and confidence when you can justify to yourself who you are, what you want to do, and how you want to do it. Others will then follow, as evidenced by the investor’s response.

The Jumbo supermarket chain, owned by the Van Eerd family, was led for many years by Mr. Van Eerd, who daily wrote down and tracked the sales figures of his supermarkets in a notebook. And this notebook became his bible, his compass, and thus the DNA of a highly successful supermarket.

I do not want to downplay the importance of all the contemporary technological developments in any way; on the contrary, they are inevitable, essential, and they help us move forward. I only want to emphasize that we must never allow ourselves to be (mis)led by these developments and think that we as humans become obsolete. You remain the most important person with your hands on the controls. Set your goal, make your plan, and execute it meticulously. Your vision and approach determine whether you win or lose. And when you have the ball, they can’t score. Isn’t that right?

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