No courage, no glory! Leadership Tips for Entrepreneurs
Let’s be real. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Some have the stomach for it, most don’t. What separates the true entrepreneur from the dreamers is the willingness to take the first step, which usually involves spending and risking your own money. Hardly a good idea. Knowing what you’re doing, what you’re getting yourself into, helps ease anxiety. When it comes to what you love in life, entrepreneurs don’t take no for an answer. A true entrepreneur understands the risk/reward ratio and lives by the motto… “No guts, no glory!”
Learning from people who have already “been there, done that” is the best resource available. But at the end of the day, someone else’s experience isn’t going to launch your company. It takes fire in your belly, passion and drive, and a deep and abiding belief in your idea and yourself. Nothing less will keep you on course in the turbulent waters that threaten a fledgling business. Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at ways to optimize your startup’s chances of success. Stay tuned for more “NO COURAGE, NO GLORY!” articles and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs based on interviews with successful entrepreneurs.
Tip #1: When in doubt, just take a small step forward.
Believe in yourself. This is the first rule of entrepreneurship. There are enough barriers to starting a business without doubting your own abilities. Once doubt creeps in, rash and rash decisions are made. Vision loses focus and energy. Fear and doubt have a smell and people can smell it. It is a natural repellent for investors or potential customers. It’s normal to be nervous when embarking on a new endeavor…but don’t let them see you sweating!
You’re so protective of your idea that you’re not even willing to ask your closest friends and family for feedback. Stop yourself! Don’t be too proud or scared to ask for help. That’s what family and friends are for, to listen to your crazy ideas. Even if they can’t see your vision, articulating it helps you refine and solidify it in your own mind.
Often the biggest obstacle to moving forward is the clutter in your own head. Get rid of all that useless baggage, it will just weigh you down. Live for the moment. Yesterday it was a canceled check, tomorrow it’s a promissory note – today it’s cash!
Tip #2: Grow thick skin.
Take a deep breath. Calms the mind. As entrepreneurs, we already have leadership tendencies, but we confuse this impulse with the need to dictate the vision and fight to preserve its sanctity. Stop yourself! Not every conversation has to end with a kiss. Don’t let the business get personal. It’s bad practice that leads to bad decisions. Learn to yield, listen, and agree to disagree when the occasion calls for it. Also, if you are presented with a bad deal, walk away. Leadership is not about being right, it’s about achieving the goal.
On the other hand, a successful colleague once said, “If I’m the smartest person in the room, my business is in trouble.” Hire talented people and let them shine.
Learn to laugh at things. Time heals all wounds. Give it time, time. Everyone makes mistakes, so ask “will this matter in five years?” Probably not in most cases. Life is too short to waste time in irritation and anger. Also, it’s a bad thing to let someone else live rent-free in your head.
Tip #3: Don’t compare your situation to others.
If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d put ours away.
Often when work is overwhelming and nothing is going our way, we tend to feel like a victim who wishes we had never started the business. We may envy another person’s success. Stop yourself! You have no idea what their journey has been like. Envy is worse than wasting time—it’s a corrosive practice that blinds you to the blessings in your own life. You have everything you need to unlock your own potential. At this point, go to a trusted friend who has started a business and have a frank conversation about your situation. Vent with someone. It’s much better than licking your wounds in solitude.
All entrepreneurs have been through what you are going through, and most are happy to share some guidance. One of the moral imperatives of success is to lend a hand to the next entrepreneur who comes along, to mentor and inspire future generations of entrepreneurs. Seek expert advice.
Tip #4: Over-prepare, then go with the flow.
No matter how good or bad a situation is, one thing is certain – it will change. So the best course of action is to prepare for any eventuality. Remember your game plan, then consider all the possible scenarios that could arise. Hopefully, you won’t face the more severe problems that some startups face, but being prepared is the best way to fight through adversity and keep your company thriving. And when faced with a difficult decision, don’t agonize over it. A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
As you go with the flow, new ideas will surface. Share credit. Does it really matter where a good idea comes from? Be grateful for every contribution to your company’s success and acknowledge the source. Ignore the envious, the naysayers. Celebrate the idea because sometimes you’re the only one who will. Be a champion of the idea.
Tip #5: Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Come on, this is fun. This is what you always wanted. So show it off. Smile, it’s contagious. Keep it simple. Some say it’s “lonely at the top”. Yes, if you’re a bully, a bully, or a real pain in the neck. But if you respect your employees, treat them like family; running a business can be fun. It’s all about approach and attitude. If you go in with the mentality that you are ‘the boss’ then it will be a lonely road, but if you go in with the design, you are the team leader and the inspiration behind the plan then you will create an environment that encourages growth and prosperity. Let people feel empowered, a sense of ownership and a sense of belonging and need.
Confidence is important. Even if you don’t feel confident, pretend. Confidence breeds loyalty, excitement and productivity that are contagious. Panic and fear lead to chaos that will eventually destroy your enterprise.
In closing, I leave you with this…be eccentric now. Don’t wait until old age to have blue hair. Now go out and have fun. Luck. Remember, “No courage, no glory!”
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