Are you really an entrepreneur or do you just like having the title?
To be an entrepreneur you need to have the right mindset but so often business owners get caught up in the daily grind of managing their company rather than focusing on determining the strategy and finding ways to grow. Businesses live or die based on how well they perform; their sole function is to attract and maintain clients.
Below are five points designed to help you ensure that you have the right focus for success and that you don’t fall into the trap of managing your business rather than being an entrepreneur.
Make sure the people around you are the people you choose
Being a control freak is a common trait amongst entrepreneurs but effective delegation is vital if you want to grow and develop your business. Entrepreneurs realise that it’s a flaw to want to control and be involved in every aspect of their business but it only becomes a fatal flaw if you do nothing about it. Your business cannot grow and be the success you want it to be if you are the person holding it back. Of course when you start your business a lot of entrepreneurs wear many hats to get the job done. However, there comes a time, and it’s normally a lot sooner than most entrepreneurs like to admit, when you need to hire people to do things for you.
Smart entrepreneurs take on people better than themselves to get the job done. Admittedly, it can be hard letting go especially if it’s something you like doing: creating PowerPoint slides, writing press releases or getting involved with design. But the question you need to ask yourself is: What else could you spend your time on that would better serve your business? When you hire amazing people whether full-time, part-time or on a freelance basis, it gives you confidence that you have the right team in place. This enables you to relax and to lead with assurance, which has a positive effect on the morale of your team and enables them to operate at the peak of their powers and to deliver the results you are looking for.
2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Use yourself to put your company on the map
Is your business worthy of peoples’ attention? If the answer is yes, then you need to go out and shout about it. One of the greatest myths is that your products or services will inevitably get discovered and be embraced by the masses. Promoting your company, especially in the early days is like having a second job; you need to find the time to write those all important press releases, articles, blog posts. You need to get up on stage and give your signature talk – frightening stuff hey! However, your reputation is one of your most marketable assets and getting out amongst your potential clients and promoting your business is key. I’m not saying it’s always easy, I find I often stumble over my words when people ask me what I do. I just sometimes get caught up in my own thinking and at other times it just rolls off the tongue.
The important point is we all have to promote our businesses and although some aspects of promotion may seem daunting, (and I wouldn’t recommend the baptism of fire approach), if you take one step at a time and focus on one aspect of promotion you will gain confidence in that area and from there you can build on it. It’s through practice we become more comfortable promoting our business and ourselves and in doing so we become great ambassadors for our brand.
3. Emotional Intelligence
Be passionate but stay in control
How often have you heard entrepreneurs refer to their business as ‘their baby’? Being passionate about your business is a prerequisite for success and tightly weaved into passion is the big ‘E’…emotion. You cannot be passionate about anything and be devoid of emotion. But emotions, positive or negative, cloud our judgement; the key aim should be to conserve your emotional energy and not let your feelings run out of control. The challenge we face is being able to detach ourselves from the emotion and become an observer in the situation. Only when you are calm and collected can you think more clearly and not get drawn into a moment of conflict or jubilation.
Improving your emotional intelligence will definitely help sharpen your skills but remember that successful entrepreneurs spend most of their time listening. If a discussion or situation makes you want to say something you wouldn’t normally say then hit the pause button. The cooling off period is the most valuable tool you have, it may take several minutes or days to find the right sense of calm but give yourself the space you need to let go of the emotion and then decide on the next move that is best for your business.
A new landscape is emerging
Markets today and people within them are changing rapidly. Your company can be a global player from the word go and the window of opportunity to make it a success is a lot smaller than it once was. The bar has been raised so how do you expect to compete? If you take a look at the Richard Bransons and Donald Trumps of this world, the one thing they have in common is that they are great navigators of change and that’s the skill you need to acquire. You may not want to run a billion dollar business, you might just want to earn a bit more, or match the salary you were paid when working in the corporate world – either way you need to be agile enough to perceive change and embrace it.
Without change your business is likely to lose its competitive edge and fail to meet the needs of your clients. Being ready to go into unchartered waters is exciting and frightening at the same time. Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions or have difficult conversations in order to take your business to the next level – it takes courage and strong self-belief.
Some points worth remembering when it comes to keeping on top of change:
- Keep abreast of innovation both in terms of technology and strategic thinking – we are in the ‘experience economy’. How does that affect the way you do business?
- Develop new capabilities and continue to learn and ensure that anyone working for you is also doing the same.
- If you have a problem take time out to think creatively about the solution and then create a process/system around it so it runs smoothly.
- Once you have identified an opportunity develop an effective ‘go to market’ plan and deliver it.
- Take time out for self-reflection and assessment – it’s so important to challenge yourself and your thinking – it’s about stepping outside your comfort zone.
Being prepared for change and keeping pace with your competition is one of the greatest challenges that entrepreneurs face and it can be crucial for success. Effective strategic thinking requires confidence in your own perception and decision-making, as well as the capabilities of the people around you.
5. Have a blast
It’s official – FUN is on the agenda!
People remember great days at work because they normally contain some element of fun. It might be having a belly full of laughs with a co-worker, watching a funny video as part of a training course, (like the ones Women Unlimited show at their business club meetings), or an inspiring conversation with a fellow solopreneur that brought a smile to your face. The temptation for an entrepreneur to work around the clock is enormous but your body, mind and spirit need a rest. Relaxation has significant positive effects on your mental and physical health. Having fun and a good laugh allows your body to relax and when you’re relaxed you are more creative, you can think more clearly and be open to new possibilities.
Being an entrepreneur means you have to be ready for a bumpy ride. It wont all be success and enjoyment but when you are able to rise to the challenges in front of you, lean on great people and be aware that working too hard won’t help, you can start to find a true sense of satisfaction and you can rightly call yourself an entrepreneur.