Business Leaders Must Abandon the "Employee Mindset"


I have a new client who seems to have poor onboarding and data security practices. For example, with no NDA or non-compete I have access to the critical backend software for her business including her 30K email database, product information, vendor information, website, etc.

I'd like to bring this up to her so she is protected, but I don't want her to think that I'm interested in stealing from her.

What and how should I say something to give her some unsolicited advice while keeping our relationship protected?


Without the policies, procedures, and processes in place needed to scale, evolve, and recover, far too many business owners put themselves in situations where their success or failure must rely on the "kindness of strangers" pointing out vulnerabilities and areas of concern. As I wrote in a previous column C.Y.A., far too many individuals aren't operating from places of strength. There are an infinite number of reasons for this, but for many, it boils down to them adopting an "employee" rather than an entrepreneurial mindset.

An employee mindset is one that focuses chiefly on tasks to get done. This is not to say that there is no effort or understanding of strategy or long-term thinking but that those decisions are made in service of the roles, responsibilities, and tasks at hand. Most of your attention is in getting to that next client/customer, paying bills as they come in, having the insurance and licenses needed to operate in your given industry or location, having the tools at hand to complete necessary tasks, etc. One's decisions are very in the moment and day-to-day.

Whereas an entrepreneurial mindset is one which focuses on operationalizing one's core values, strategic planning, and risk mitigation to name a few. This mindset extends far beyond the basic day-to-day operating requirements. It's forecasting. It's spending a great deal of time working through scenarios of "if this…then that". It's what drives the need for establishing policies, procedures, and processes as a response.