Are Automotive Entrepreneurs Transforming Transportation?

What key qualities do automotive entrepreneurs possess to grow faster?What key qualities do automotive entrepreneurs possess to grow faster?

What does it take to lead a growing successful automotive business?  What key qualities do automotive entrepreneurs possess? What can we learn from these innovative leaders? I spent several days in Detroit meeting with many successful executives from both large and small automotive organizations. I interviewed these executives at The TU Automotive Conference in Novi, Michigan. 

Many of the leaders shared several key qualities that help them build a successful organization. Both OEMs and their many tiers of suppliers are all looking for the opportunity that is automotive and transportation. It’s not enough to be the best, you must bring tremendous value to the organization, typically at a lower price. So what helps them succeed?

It’s a tough market that is only going to get more competitive. Automotive entrepreneurs know the rules of the game and are either wildly successful or fail miserably in their markets. It’s such a competitive market many organizations have come and gone. What does it take to be a successful automotive entrepreneur today?

Interestingly, I was given a copy of Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs by a client before my trip to Detroit. It prompted me to think about how he transformed his markets. I wondered, what can today’s automotive entrepreneurs learn from Steve Jobs today?

I talked with over fifty organizations last week. I was surprised by the similarities among all the successful teams. The spirit of Steve Jobs is alive and well in today’s successful automotive entrepreneurs. He has inspired a whole new way of doing business in their industry. We will share several of these companies’ stories of the coming weeks and months.

Automotive entrepreneurs must be great at building teams. Steve Jobs was able to transform telecommunications and computer industries by putting together teams of individuals with a very wide range of backgrounds. He focused on hiring A players to help him change the world.

Automotive entrepreneurs leverage high performing teams.  They run leaner and smarter companies compared to many of their larger competitors. The most successful are always looking to add the best people to their teams. Technology plays a critical role in empowering their organizations.

Automotive entrepreneurs are hiring smarter multi-disciplinary professionals for their team. When I talked with many of the younger team members I found they come out of a variety of educational backgrounds. Unlike earlier in my career, liberal arts and design are no longer forbidden on the product development team, so heavily dominated by engineers for many years. Many of the more interesting entrepreneurs I met come out of software development and liberal arts education.

Automotive entrepreneurs are learning to create and shape customer demand.  Like Steve Jobs, they are using less focus groups and more data science capabilities to identify hidden customer opportunities.  Many are focused on creating extraordinary customer journeys that transform how customers experience their transportation.

Many supplier organizations are being led by more anticipatory leaders. I’ll return to this theme repeatedly. It transforms how automotive entrepreneurs lead and grow their organizations.

I listened in as many different suppliers shared how the OEM and tier one suppliers are getting a constant flow of new ideas and potentially disruptive technologies from their many different supplier organizations around the world.

In several cases, the larger organization has acquired the smaller organization to bring their innovative capabilities inside the company. I met several former CEOs who have been acquired over the past several years, all believing it was a good thing for both their organizations and the acquirer.

Friday we will talk about what external forces are changing how automotive entrepreneurs can manage several key aspects in the industry to grow a more successful organization.  See you here.

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