I’ve day dreamed about being an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been interested in the way a person starts, leads and runs his business.
Around 6 months ago, I met a very well established entrepreneur. I knew him from a previous employer and reconnected this year. I am currently working as his second in command at a startup. These are the lessons I’ve learned in how to be a successful entrepreneur.
Lesson One: Be passionate about your work.
I’ve discussed the importance of mission statements in a previous article. An established entrepreneur believes strongly in her mission. She is passionate about the industry in which she works, contributing to that industry and achieving company goals.
Leadership requires believe in the mission and unyielding perseverance to achieve victory. — Jocko Willink
Lesson Two: Treat your employees like family.
I’ve been happiest in my career working for companies with a family feel. Whether it be parties at the CEO’s house, potluck lunches, being invited to a coworker’s wedding — these types of relationships contribute to a company’s culture. If you’re personal life is in shambles and there is no compassion at work, it’s going to affect your work ethic. If you’re not personable with your employees, you’ll create a culture that’s easy to walk away from.
Lesson Three: Pay well.
Want to show your employees you value them? Pay them what they deserve. Low balling your employees in salary or bonus will result in turnover. To show your team they are valuable, pay them the standard, or above if you can afford it. A well paid employee working in a company with good culture has no reason to leave.
Lesson Four: Care about the greater good of the industry.
Passionate people are usually successful. You can feel their passion in their speech and focus. A passionate entrepreneur not only runs his company well but contributes to a greater good. He may match a donation to a particular charity or create free solutions for the good of the industry.
Entrepreneurship is about creating change, not just companies. — Mark Zuckerberg
Lesson Five: Be honest with your customers and employees
Have a bad quarter? Lose a deal? Tell your employees. Discuss lessons learned and ask for assistance in developing a plan for success.
Miss a deadline? Underestimate resources necessary to complete a project? Be honest with your customer and discuss options. So many times I have seen people give excuses for missing deliveries instead of giving a credit back to the customer. If you want to keep your customers and develop trust, be honest. A customer who trusts you will purchase from you.
Lesson Six: Don’t hire a sales team until you have an established customer base
Job titles don’t mater, everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business.
You are more likely to purchase a product that is sold by a passionate person. If the person selling the product speaks so highly of it’s effectiveness that it’s believable, chances are that you’ll buy it.
Not everyone shares an entrepreneur’s passion. Not everyone can buy into a company’s mission. Don’t immediately rely on others to do a task that’s best suited for you. As the company grows and matures, it may be time to take another look at this strategy but in its infancy, sell your product. You manifested it, you’re passionate about it, you’re best able to sell it.
Lesson Seven: Keep administrative costs low
With so many people working virtually now, consider if you need office space. Consider the tools and resources you need to succeed. Just as you would create an MVP (minimally viable product) to verify its effectiveness, create a MVT (minimally viable team) of doers. You can add as you grow.
Lesson Eight: Give everyone a voice
Let everyone be part of the company’s success by empowering your employees to make suggestions. Listen and try solutions recommended by your employees. A person vested in a company’s success will work hard for the company to be successful, especially if the idea was her own.
Lesson Nine: Decide on tradeoff between the company’s culture and financial success
Prior to committing to a customer, determine the affect of the sale on your employees. Are you staffed adequately to deliver the product in the requested timeframe? Or are you putting a drain on your current employees to deliver? Sometimes a company’s culture is more important. Saying no may cost you a sale but may keep your entire team.
The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. — Nolan Bushnell
While I am still a dreamer, I am learning lessons to eventually make me a doer. I’m focused on noting these lessons and continuing to learn so that I can emulate the success I’ve seen. We all have the power to do this. We just need to learn, take a risk and focus on the reward.