Training to be an Entrepreneur
I have been following one of my Twitter friend Jinal Shah since sometime now. She is an entrepreneur or starting up a business and has come up with excellent compilation of points which are like must TODO for a entrepreneur. I agree to all her thoughts and her post has increase my confidence and some of my thoughts.
I am so convinced that I am going to re-post her post on my blog to pin it down.
Because of the instant-nature of my job, I often don’t find time to sit down, reflect and compute the bytes of information that I feed into my head daily via Twitter, Facebook and a number of other networks. I try not to lose focus of my personal goals as I gain more work experience and become more confident and self-assured daily.
I consider my current phase of life as a “training” period for my next phase of life, which is running my own business. I think a lot about how I want my life to make a difference, the impact I want to make. I will be honest - my primary goal is to build a highly profitable and financially successful business and I don’t harbor false notions about my capitalistic desires. However, I also want to be a strong leader and I want to create a business that will impact more than a handful of lives. An honorable business that will create jobs and hopefully, contribute to the general well-being of society. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but for now I am also sub-consciously training myself to be a leader, to understand how to run a business and to learn from both the good habits and the bad habits of entrepreneurs. I’ve picked up a few ideas and values that I want to build my business around. I just wanted to put them down on paper, so here:
1) Execute quickly and efficiently: This is the most important thing I have learned and it is the single most common factor all entrepreneurial minded have in common. I must have heard, ‘better to ask for forgiveness than permission’ about 10 times from all different people. It is branded in my head now. It is important to think things through and be doggedly focused on the end goal. It is equally important to not gloss over the details in the beginning, because it is not a pleasant situation to deal with midway down the road. But the point is - do your homework fast and just execute. Start making, building, selling - whatever it is your idea is. But just start it.
2) Cut a good deal, but provide equal value: I don’t like asking for or doing free work unless it is a fair barter. When doing a free project for an author, he asked me “How can I make this worth your while?” I had never been asked that question before. It showed me integrity. It showed me that I was dealing with a fair businessman who was also looking out for my best interests. Not everyone in the business world is going to look out for my best interests, but those who do – I know I want to hang on to them.
This is a principle I want to live by and do business by. So when the time comes for me to start pulling in favors, I want to know that I have earned those favors or that I will pay for them. Yes – there are no free lunches.
3) Brilliance shines effortlessly: Some entrepreneurs or wanna-be entrepreneurs feel a strong need to constantly talk about how smart they are, how connected they are and how cool they are. And it gets frankly annoying after a while. The leaders I admire are the ones who know when to talk, when to namedrop and when to shut up. And that is the kind of leader I aspire to be everyday.
4) Inspire loyalty: The founder/ public face of a huge non-profit never thanked his volunteers or even bothered to find out their names when he flew into Philly for a conference organized and managed by the volunteers. Three months later, every single volunteer had quit or moved on. A small gesture of appreciation would have avoided this situation and kept the volunteer roster loyal and motivated. Instead, the non-profit had to struggle for another few months before they could build a sound volunteer board again. Lesson: No employee is too lowly. Don’t gush, but certainly don’t ignore anyone’s contribution. I admire companies and entrepreneurs who are able to retain employees long-term. To me, it says a lot about the company.
5) Give control: I read these stories about how once you are an entrepreneur you cease having a life. No vacations, no time-off. But I have met an equal number of amazing entrepreneurs who build their business around the idea that it will survive and run smoothly without their continued presence. And that happens upon relinquishing control and trusting the right person to take care of the business in your absence.
So that’s what has been on my mind so far. Would love to hear your thoughts and your ideas on what you think makes a good entrepreneur/ leader.
I already had belief in 3rd and 4th point and rest of them I completely agree with.
There is an great comment on her post by Dennis Demori, which I would like to post as well:
Great post, especially your points on execution, inspiration and delegation. I feel like I’m in the same “training period” that you refer to, and I’m excited about getting to the next stage when the time comes.
Here’s 5 things I would add:
1) As a leader, you’re always setting examples (good and bad)for those around you. If you’re always positive, show up early, etc. then your employees will follow suit.
Accountability starts at the top. Companies with “Do as I say, not as I do” attitudes create apathetic employees.
2) Continue to network…all the time. If you try to network when you need something, it’s already too late. You need to nurture your relationships, or they will wither and die. Regardless of which industry you pursue, the bottom line is that EVERY business is a RELATIONSHIP business.
3) Don’t be afraid to hire people smarter than you. As a leader, you don’t need to have all the answers. You just need to know how to find them (or hire someone who does).
4) Respect and learn from everyone in your company, from Senior Executives all the way down to the mailroom - their insights can be invaluable.
5) Focus on building your strengths instead of trying to turn around your weaknesses.
I hope this helps.
I already agree with 1st, 3rd and 4th points of Dennis.
Jinal thanks for this wonderful post and Dennis thanks for summing up with additions.