Many people become entrepreneurs because they want to be their own boss. They don’t want to answer to anyone. These are the same folks who imagine that entrepreneurial leaders are like mavericks on the open road, making the rules up as they go along, not conforming to anyone’s ideas. This line of thinking is not only unreasonable, it is actually the root of poor leadership. Founding a startup isn’t just about breaking the rules and taking risks for the thrill of it. Entrepreneurs are indeed required to take risks. But the most important part is not just about taking risks, it’s being responsible and accountable for the results. The first and foremost virtue is the need for accountability. Nothing can prepare you for entrepreneurship.
No one speaks of the loneliness, depression, betrayals, debt and exhaustion that often come as a price for pursuing your vision. There is a dark side to being a visionary that leaves many entrepreneurs feeling the effects of depression. Perched at the top of their field or still in pursuit of their big win, few entrepreneurs document their missteps along the way. Living in a day and time when showcasing the highlight reel of people’s lives takes center stage, there is often an emphasis on the destination rather than the journey. Building a business is tough and so is building a team. It takes extra time, planning, thoughtfulness, humility and requires an investment that goes beyond money.
You might have led teams or might be led by someone in teams. But, as an entrepreneur, it’s different. It has an advisory board, have mentors and speak with fellow business owners but when it comes down to it, the decision for growth and team building rests on an entrepreneur’s shoulders alone. That’s a heck of a lot of responsibility. Here are some leadership lessons that help you to be a better entrepreneur:
So often, we withdraw from people when we have tunnel vision in pursuing our goals. We disappear during the rough times and then re-emerge at our wins, and wonder why outsiders looking in think entrepreneurship is an easy ride. If you’ve ever watched Game of Thrones, the show that has taken the world by storm. You might be familiar with the saying, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Ironically, it couldn’t be much further from the truth. The bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, Snow has quickly risen from being the black sheep of the family to become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Why? Not only is he brave, clever, and quick thinking, but the brooding hero also believes in himself and isn’t afraid to follow his instincts–qualities that every good leader needs by the bucketload. As a result, he’s won the respect of nearly everyone around him. He’s both the ultimate underdog and proof you should never underestimate yourself.
You have to invest time upfront before you can begin to action anything meaningful. You feel like you need to know everything about all aspects of what you do as an agency but that’s just not the case. It’s OK and beneficial for the team to know more about certain topics than you do — it keeps you sharp and it frees you up to focus on other areas of expertise. The decisions that you make will affect your business long-term. In a corporate environment, there are always fallbacks, and sometimes if you have a good idea, it might not be accepted. When you have an idea and decide to implement it into your business, you must give it 100 percent of your effort. If they are wrong, admit your faults, and move forward with complete confidence in yourself. No one is always right, and entrepreneurship is all about making tough decisions even when you are unsure of the outcome.
Being Prepared For Setbacks
The Dothraki should have made formidable opponents. Yet the Lannisters, Starks, and Baratheons weren’t afraid of them for one simple reason: The Dothraki were scared of the sea, and everyone knew it. So despite their nifty skills and a vast army of over 40,000 warriors, the Dothraki’s fear rendered them impotent, stuck in a rut, and unable to grow or become more powerful. In tech terms, they were the BlackBerry of the series: a big player in its own world but arguably oblivious to the opportunities in the land of touchscreen phones. All the while, its rival, Apple, was setting sail to explore new territories. The result? BlackBerry has reportedly suffered losses while Apple has raked in incredible profits–and for a while, at least, it seemed no city was safe from its dominance.
Your entrepreneurial journey is going to transform you into someone entirely different. This will cause some upheaval in your current relationships, so be prepared for disruption. This is part of the entrepreneurial process. Your support circles will shift. Embrace your growth and never apologize for who you are, or what your dreams are. There are so many external circumstances that will be beyond your control. Industries and markets can change overnight. The ability to pivot quickly and to make hard decisions quickly will be necessary for you to sustain, evolve, and remain relevant. If you don’t adapt, you will rapidly become irrelevant. The important thing is to always move forward and to know that you are stronger than your challenges. You have everything you need within you to move past the obstacles.
Entrepreneurs are the leaders of their organizations. They cannot hide behind the decisions of anyone else because they ultimately hold the power to make the final call. If things do not work out, you cannot just blame it on someone else. Even if it’s something that one of your team members did wrong, it’s still your responsibility. Accountability and responsibility are not just limited to your business, but also to your team members and customers. If you are the type of person who hates being critiqued and taking the blame for others, then you will be miserable as an entrepreneur. If someone asks for your suggestions or needs your advice, you have to have an answer to it. And when you provide an answer, you need to be willing to be responsible for the outcome. It doesn’t take long for you to realize that leading your own business is not all fun and games like you thought it would be.
You are actually responsible for the satisfaction of your customers and the performance of your team to position your business to succeed. Entrepreneurship is a deeply personal journey, and as visionaries, we often want to go at it alone thinking that we should be at the head of our own table. This thought is what often leads to feelings of overwhelming pressure when the pitfalls of the business become too much to handle. Reach out and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it or partner with someone whose strengths are your weaknesses. You don’t have to start from scratch to see if this is the right path for you. Work with someone who already has an infrastructure in place. At the beginning stages of entering an industry, it can be beneficial to form a partnership and join forces with someone for a few years in order to get a solid footing.
An entrepreneur never succeeds own their own. They must connect with the right resources and people to grow their idea into an operational business. Building a team is really important. No company can be built by just one person. You need a team that understands the mission of the company and the goals that the company is aiming to achieve. When team members are added to the mix, they must understand your vision for the company if they are going to be a successful addition to your organization. Many businesses have failed because of the poor performance of the people within the organization. If team members are not clear about the mission, very soon you will realize that they are treating the work as just a job, and thus it will affect the growth of a company.
Maybe this isn’t for me – is a question that can often plague the minds of entrepreneurs. So much of running a business is putting yourself out there, pitching your business and knocking on doors. Use this time to strengthen your character and resolve that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. Tune out negativity and be mindful of what you are ingesting: news stories, gossip, and comparisons to others’ lifestyles on social media. Listen to your inner voice and to your higher power to guide your next steps.