Nothing is more important to a small business or startup than a good team. You have to invest the time and energy it takes to find them, train them and keep them. It is the biggest struggle I see entrepreneurs dealing with daily at Indiegrove. But when the right team is in place it is a beautiful thing to see. You can feel the vibe when a good team is around you. They are all focused on the purpose and willing to do what it takes. Building that type of team has nothing to do with formal credentials, i.e. degrees, and everything to do with character. I’ve managed hundreds of people in my career and every time it has come down to that gut feeling I got when I first shook the person’s hand in an interview, the way they responded to my emails when I invited them or whether or not they looked me in the eye when they said “thank you.” Trust those instincts. Those first impressions will tell you more about their future behavior and performance than anything else. If they meet the gut check, then look at the more objective qualifications, i.e., years of work experience, references, and make an informed decision. I can’t tell you how much I’ve regretted every time I didn’t hire with that process. It has always come back to haunt me later.
If you find and build your team the right way, they will be your favorite part of every day. They will inspire, motivate and drive your business to greatness. Your job will become to lead them, not manage them, and that is what entrepreneurs are meant to do.
To your success!
So often the big successes in business for me have come from me just asking. What I mean by that is that is getting the courage together to approach a person about something is often the biggest obstacle you face as a business owner. You would be amazed how easy it can be sometimes if you just ask. If you have been good to people and thoughtful about the community you operate in, people want to help you. For me this has proven to be true in the hardest times. When money has been tight and things feel really hard some of the people I would have least expected to be helpful have delivered more than I expected, lent a helping hand or opened a door for my business. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know are really good at asking. I’ve been amazed at their boldness when they’ve asked me for something. But to be honest, most often, I’m happy to give it to them. This is what entrepreneurship is all about: relationships. Relationships that matter and are mutually beneficial. You have to remember this when things are good and hard. You never know what people are going through and your kindness can make a big difference. Everything in business is a two way street.
To Your Success,
This article is part of the blog series “The Days in the Life of an Entrepreneur.”
I can’t tell you how often I watch entrepreneurs recede into their comfort zone the minute they are asked to go against the grain, think of their business as more than their immediate circumstance or just try something new. I don’t pretend that everyone’s comfort zone starts and ends at the same place. I know boldness comes easier to some than others. But if you think you are going to build a sustainable business by doing anything less than bold on a daily basis, you are wrong. It’s a choice that you have to make over and over again as an entrepreneur. One of the best sayings I have ever come across is “Discomfort is a sign of growth.” You have to be uncomfortable if you are growing. It’s just part of the territory. This journey we are all on makes us push our own boundaries and of those around us. If you are asking people to trust you and buy your product/service, something they are not certain about, you better be willing to do the same all the time. It is really what makes the possibilities endless and the journey worthwhile.
To Your Success!
This post is part of “The Days in the Life of an Entrepreneur” series.
You hear time and time again in all the entrepreneurial blogs, quotes, guiding principles, etc. that you shouldn’t chase the money, chase the dream and the money will follow. Unfortunately, many would be entrepreneurs take that to mean they shouldn’t be focused on money at all. Not true. Money shouldn’t be your only goal or even your primary goal, but it has to be a goal. Unlike some other goals, if you don’t achieve it, you will be out of business. Too often those who get that part end up only trying to high end markets because they think that is where the money is. But here’s the problem with the high end money. What is considered luxury changes fast and furious and everything is eventually commoditized in that world. Yes, there is money to be made in those markets, but for how long? Whatever you are doing make sure it is a sustainable business that can withstand the trials of time and change. As for me, I just like doing business with real people.
To Your Success!
The lessons of humility are always following you as an entrepreneur:
“Listen to your customers.”
“Make it work.”
“Shake that guys hand.”
“Wipe the floors.”
“Pay yourself last.”
The great thing about humility is that it allows you the space to think, reflect and digest. If you aren’t always taking action, you are able internalize and grow. It is a lesson that gives back constantly if you allow it to.
I’ve worked with and around entrepreneurs my entire career. From the fist time I was told what it meant to be an entrepreneur I respected it in and of itself and realized its potential, not only for the entrepreneur but all of us.
As solopreneurs, we don’t have the luxury of being able to kick off an email to
accounting or HR. We are everything from CEO down to janitor.
One of the biggest time sucks in the modern workplace is task switching. Research
has shown that it takes a full x minutes to get fully in ‘the zone’ after being distracted
There are a lot of options for financing a business, but none of them are easy. I was rejected by every major bank before I took my plan to community lenders and was approved. The process was painful. They poked and prodded into every detail of my life and it took months. In the end it was all worth it. I had what I needed to build my space and get myself to breakeven. Investors are another increasingly popular option, but you have to be willing to give up control of your business. You have to decide what you can handle and know what the other party is looking for. Whether you go with debt or equity financing you will be accountable to another party or parties. My goal is to get to a point the business itself can finance its growth. For most businesses this is the best option and will allow you to maintain your independence. For others you have to go after outside financing. Just make sure you never lose sight of why you started the whole thing to begin with.
I use my business plan every day. It is a living document in my business. It is a tool that helps me stay focused and make decisions, while considering the implications the decisions will have on other parts of the business. A lot has changed since the first draft of my business plan, but it has remained a constant check and balance for me. Read More
Leadership is at the heart of every successful business. There is no doubt that every business will have its successes and failures. Being someone who can stay focused on the vision and lead employees, customers, partners, vendors…whoever is on board, through the ups and downs is what differentiates a leader from a manager. I knew I was a good manager before I started my own business. I was organized, focused, hardworking, outspoken. I knew how to get the job done. Now that I’m an entrepreneur, that’s not enough. I have to lead. I have to see how all the pieces come together, put them in the right order and, most importantly, inspire people to join me. A business plan will help you put and keep the pieces together, but your gut and willpower are the secret sauce.