To become a successful entrepreneur you are going to learn and do things you didn’t think were possible, it’s just the way it is. Not only is it one of the most amazing things you can do but it’s also one of the toughest. You can however...read more
Entrepreneurs don’t just make jobs for themselves, they also make jobs for others. Any entrepreneur will want to grow their empire, but you can’t do this without a group of loyal followers. By followers, I mean employees. Before I took the plunge into entrepreneurship and worked for someone else, I learned a valuable lesson. A good leader will inspire you to achieve great things for them, a bad leader will inspire you to achieve great things for yourself.
If you want to keep a hold of your biggest asset, you will need to lead by example. This means digging deep and doing things you don’t necessarily want to do. Leaders inspire from the front and nothing will gain you more respect that rolling up yoursleeves and getting your hands dirty. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of losing your best staff to other employers who will inspire or losing them to entrepreneurship.
Leadership types can actually be categorised, so you can find out exactly what kind of leader you are. The three main leadership styles are Autocratic, Democratic and Laissez-faire. Now, to identify which one you are it’s best to take the test in the link and read about which style you mostly use. From personal experience different people can have a different leadership style to the same problem and come out with the same answer. However, it’s often your leadership style that will determine your on going success.
Each one can work, so if you aren’t happy with the style you currently are, it doesn’t mean your doing a bad job. I always try and adopt a few good traits from each of the leadership styles dependant on the situation. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision, so you can draw elements from each leadership style and mould yourself to a situation. This will help you and the people looking at your for leadership.
One thing that does work in all forms of leadership is giving back. Make sure the people who follow you know they are appreciated. Whether you choose to use their ideas in a situation or not, you have to acknowledge that they are their and they do want to help. Giving back could be as little as a quiet word or a pat on the back.
This links back the “make a plan” section of this post. You really need to have a short, medium and long term plan in place for your business, however you need to set deadlines for your daily and weekly tasks. This blog post for example, I sat down and gave myself three hours to do it, that’s all.
I would love to spend all day on it but realistically I probably already have 15 unanswered emails in my inbox and various other tasks that require my attention. If you don’t set yourself time budgets, projects will always overrun, which lead to the next project over running… and the next, so on and so on.
If you set yourself a time budget that is realistic, I guarantee you will finish 99% of the things you set out to achieve. A good way to set your goals is to use the SMART acronym. These can be applied to individual tasks and more complex long term goals.
Ok, I want you to find a mentor. Go on then, get out there and find one! Now your probably thinking, where the hell should I start looking? It’s a fair question, it’s not just as easy as contacting someone you admire and asking him or her to mentor you. I was lucky enough to work with someone who eventually became my mentor but a lot of the time, there isn’t anybody on hand that you aspire to be like.
You’ve got a few options though. You can utilise social media, pretty much everyone is online these days so getting in contact is much easier than it used to be. Don’t be fooled though, a quick direct message probably won’t be enough, especially if you’re going after a big gun. Start by interacting with them through comments, likes, shares and retweets. This will slowly bring you to their attention. When you feel you have built up some rapport, it’s time to approach them directly, maybe ask for a few tips or how they would approach a problem. Try and judge their response, and if they seem open to helping you, it’s very likely this person will be open to the idea of having a mentee.
Option two, use findamentor.com. This site allows you to register as both a mentor and a mentee. You can browse individuals that are involved in your field and make contact with them. Be wary, they won’t all say yes to you. It depends if they feel your a good fit for them. .
Option three, join the British Chamber of Commerce. Here you will find lots of interesting and insightful people who have been there and done it. There are locally based groups within the organisation and it’s a good group to get involved in.
You might not find a mentor on your first try. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t right and you will know it. Another thing to remember is a bad mentor is worse than no mentor at all, so chose wisely.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. In business this is a very relevant statement, in fact making connections is arguably more important than being good at what you do. There are people out there who are great at what they do, but they don’t have the connections to showcase their skills to. The best way to get connected in the business world is to Network.
You can use Linkedin; I find this is a very effective tool for making connections in business. It’s also great for posting articles, which inevitably lead to discussion with like minded individuals. If the only Linkedin connections you have are a few old school mates and some family, you need to work a bit more at growing your network.
If meeting face to face is more your thing, then you will most certainly want to find a networking event.www.meetup.com is one of the most popular places to find groups and like minded individuals either locally or somewhere your visiting.
If you live in the UK, a popular site to try is findnetworkingevents.com. Your likely to find something that interests you, especially if its to do with marketing, sales or entrepreneurship.
The tip I would give you for networking is, don’t be afraid to approach someone that interests you. Everyone at a networking event is there for a reason… to NETWORK. Make sure that after speaking to someone, you connect with them over Linkedin or send them an email to tell them it was nice talking to them.
You are at some point going to fail; very few have managed to get it right first time round. The key is to keep going, reinvent yourself and learn from your mistakes. I’ve failed more times than I can remember. Things sometimes don’t go the way you plan but this doesn’t mean your idea didn’t have any value, it could be due to a number of things. The wrong timing, lack of investment, etc, etc.
Just remember that some of the most famous entrepreneurs failed, but they got back on the hoarse because they knew they would get it right eventually.
Be aware though, sometimes something doesn’t work because it’s just not that good. Don’t try and reinvent something that clearly isn’t going to take off. Take a step back and reinvest your time into another project that you believe will take off.
Lot’s of people become their own boss because they want to work their own hours and have the freedom to do what they want, when they want. If your business model reflects this then your in luck. If however, your business requires the hours to be put in, don’t expect to be playing golf midweek like in the movies. There is no getting away from it, running a business and being an entrepreneur will demand a huge amount of your time, especially at first. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you just need to be prepared for it.
One thing that could catch you out very quickly is burnout. It’s likely that work will be on your mind all the time. Being an entrepreneur isn’t like a 9-5 where you can come home and chill out in front of the telly. Your brain will be constantly switched on, which is actually great, because if you’re passionate about what you’re doing your going to love it.
The only problem is you will get tired, so you will need to learn to switch off and recover.
The three main things I would advise are;
- Go to bed early and get enough sleep
- Eat well and try to avoid late night fast food stops
- Massage and acupuncture are a great way to relieve stress
The need for good planning as an entrepreneur is one of the most important aspects you’re going to uncover. You aren’t going to have a boss, no one to tell you what to do, no one to looking over your shoulder. One of the hardest things to do is staying on task and the best way to do this is plan plan plan!
It goes without saying that you should have a business plan in place with short, medium and long term goals. However, daily and weekly planning is just as important. I personally break my 5-day working week into ten sections, an AM and PM for every day.
From here I try to fill around 5-6 boxes with the things I MUST get done during the week, leaving me 4-5 boxes free where I can schedule meetings, phone calls or get any other jobs done that might pop up.
Learning to say “No” to people is important to. If someone’s wants your time and your slot is taken, then it’s taken. Most people can wait and unless it’s for a good reason stick to your routine.
This said, don’t be limited by your plan. If a great business opportunity comes up, decide where you can move your “must” jobs too. You should still have some free slots available so use them.
“The quickest way to become an old dog is to stop learning new tricks.” John Rooney
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you have to actively learn. The moment you decide that you know it all is the moment you should pack it in and buy a cottage in the country. We live in an ever changing world where new ways of doing things are invented pretty much everyday. If you stop focusing on educating yourself for even a few months, you may find you are well and truly out-dated.
Now a big question for entrepreneurs to think about is, shall I undertake a degree? For some this is a very natural path and it leads to a great level of foundation knowledge. I would never criticise anyone who wanted to get a degree, there are however different avenues when I talk about education.
ALISON is a great way to learn for absolutely free. With the world of online learning growing every year, there is so much good quality knowledge out there just ready to be absorbed.
The word “business“ alone found 10 pages worth of completely free online courses. Titles ranging from business communication to entrepreneurship will pop up. If you can’t find a course that can benefit you on ALISON then you already know it all.
Another great way to learn is by reading blogs. I personally spend around 2 hours a week reading blog posts about subject areas that I feel I will benefit from. A great way to get all your blogs in one place is Feedly. Here you can organise the blogs you love to be delivered to one place. Obviously make sure the blogs you choose to follow are reputable and those writing them know their stuff. You don’t want to spend hours absorbing false info.
Working on something without passion is a sure fire way to accept failure. As an entrepreneur you’re probably going to work long hours, and the idea you have will become a large part of your life. If you haven’t got passion for what you’re doing, you might as well go back to the drawing board.
Essentially this is going to become a living breathing part of you, an extension of your being, don’t make it even harder by having no interest in it.
If you are passionate, you will be more creative with your idea. a great quote by YO-YO MA goes…
“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more wiling to take risks”
No one really takes a risk on something they don’t believe in.
People can pick up on it
Whatever you are trying to do, you want to be so passionate about it that people can’t help but believe in you. If you’re passionate about it the self-belief is infectious, people can’t help but absorb the positive energy you exude.
The same goes for lacking passion about what you do. This will very quickly let people know that you don’t really believe in it, so why should they.
Beware don’t let your passion become an addiction
A study published in the journal of business ethics on Passion & addiction found that individuals who scored highly on passion and addiction were more heavily invested in their work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however respondents who scored high on passion displayed less obsessive job behaviours, greater work satisfactions, and higher levels of psychological well-being whereas respondents scoring higher on addiction indicated more obsessive job behaviours, lower work satisfaction, and lower levels of psychological well-being.
I’m not addicted, I’m just passionate I hear you say. Below is how Google defines the word “Passion” A strong and barely controllable emotion. The fact it is barely controllable means it is very close to being uncontrollable. Be wary how quickly a passion for what you do can become an addiction.