Despite your expertise, skills and education, nothing can prepare you for becoming a business leader. There’s a lot of trial and error and on-the-job-training that you’ll experience as you grow your business.
I’ve been a business owner for almost 10 years now. Over the years I’ve made my fair share of mistakes including several that cost me actually running the business in the way I wanted. Lucky for me, I don’t have to make those same mistakes again.
To help you run your business a lot smoother, here are 25 leadership lessons from millionaire business owners so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes we have.
1Believe in your business
“Give your venture everything you’ve got. A passionate commitment to your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure,” writes Sir Richard Branson.
“If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?”
“And don’t get suckered into blindly pursuing profits and growth. If you stay focused on being the best at what you do, it’s more likely that the rest will follow.”
2Prioritise and delegate
As all entrepreneurs know, you live and die by your ability to prioritise.” suggests Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva and later co-founder and CEO of ProFounder. “You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay or skip the rest.”
3Hire people with superior skills
Jack Ma, co-founder and CEO of Alibaba, says that, “A leader should never compare his technical skills with his employee’s. Your employee should have superior technical skills than you. If he doesn’t, it means you have hired the wrong person.”
4Give employees expectations and training
In his book “Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business,” Ari Weinzweig, CEO and cofounder of Zingerman’s gourmet food company, writes that, “Clear expectations and training tools are all about a better future.”
Ari adds, Small training success build confidence. People are more hopeful when they know what’s expected of them and feel they have the tools they need to do the work at hand.”
5Set the tone
“You can go through thousands of dollars in consultants to shape your culture, but it will still come back to the owner’s approach,” says Kristi Hedges, leadership consultant and coach at The Hedges Company.
“If you’re motivated and happy in your role, then others will follow your lead. And if you’re burned out and tired, that energy will permeate everything. Owners need to make sure they shape their role, and their company, to make them fulfilled and excited. If you put yourself last, you’re hurting the entire organisation.”
It may be surprising to learn that Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and one of the investors on “Shark Tank,” is a nice and likeable guy. He’s known for going above and beyond for his fans and has said that being “nice” is a necessity in business. When your team likes and respects you, they’ll be more likely to rally behind you.
7Plan for fun
Speaking of “Shark Tank,” Cuban’s colleague Barbara Corcoran fosters a culture of fun. “I think drinking together, having fun, having days off doing stupid things, dressing in ridiculous costumes, whatever you mandate as a company culture, what happens is everyone really likes each other and you create a family.”
Corcoran also says that this can bring out the creative side of your employees.
Bill Gates once said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
Even after Microsoft became an industry leader and was earning billions of dollars in revenue, Gates wanted the company and his team to continue to evolve and diversify their products so that they would remain innovative and relevant, as opposed to being static.
9Mentor and give back to the community
“At the end of the day, we are all part of a community,” said Aneel Bhusri, co-founder and CEO of Workday. “Giving back at the Workday Foundation is just recognising that and being part of a broader community. We are just a small piece of the community.”
“We have been very fortunate and our growth and success is largely due to our community. The most exciting part about the Workday Foundation is that our employees actually drive where we give and they really drive the giving. Our employees get personally involved. It is fabulous when your hire the right people, with the right value system, and they want to give back and they push us to give back.”
10Leaders are lighthouses, not weathervanes
“Weathering changes at Primerica that often lead to uncertainty and chaos helped me develop a leadership philosophy steeped in being someone my teams can turn to for guidance, even during the most turbulent times,” says John Addison, CEO of Addison Leadership Group and leadership editor of Success magazine.
“Whether it was another leadership change or trying to save the company during [the recession], my people could say I would make the best decision for their future, and stand firm on that decision, even if it wasn’t popular with everyone.”
Addison added, “Being a weathervane twisting in the wind wasn’t going to instill the confidence they very much needed, so I had to learn to be a lighthouse: someone they knew would still be standing strong once the storm passed. Thankfully, [my] mentor, Primerica founder Art Williams, demonstrated being a lighthouse for many years, and I was able to follow his example.”
“Through my writing, speaking engagements and position as leadership editor for Success magazine, I am able to share my leadership message with a wider audience and play a role in shaping future generations of leaders. My hope through sharing my message is that one day we will have more leaders who are lighthouses and far fewer who are weathervanes.”
11Create a family-friendly environment
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made waves in November 2015 by announcing that he would be taking a two month paternity leave. Facebook, it turns out, is one of the leaders when it comes to offering competitive paternity leave.
“Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “At Facebook we offer our US employees up to four months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year.”
12Treat employees like royalty
“We treat our people like royalty. If you honour and serve the people who work for you, they will honour and serve you,” said Mary Kay Ash.
Warren Buffett has said, “You’ve got to be able to communicate in life and it’s enormously important. Schools, to some extent, under emphasise that. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”
14Be a man or woman of the people
Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco, was beloved by his employees. Why? Because not only was his salary $350,000 a year, he was down in the trenches with his employees fighting for them to have higher wages. He had no frills office and everyone called him by his first name.
15Encourage employees to get more sleep
“Sleep plays a vital role in our decision making, emotional intelligence, cognitive function, and creativity – all of which are hugely relevant for both our overall health and our ability to be productive and effective,” Arianna Huffington told Forbes.
“Today, so many of us fall into this trap of sacrificing sleep in the name of productivity. But, ironically, our loss of sleep, despite the extra hours we put in at work, adds up to more than 11 days of lost productivity per year per worker, or about $2,280. This results in a total annual cost of sleep deprivation to the U.S. economy of more than $63 billion, in the form of absenteeism and presenteeism (when employees are present at work physically but not really mentally focused).”
16Boost their self-esteem
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self esteem of their personnel,” said Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. “If people believe in themselves it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”
“I’ve come to learn there is a virtuous cycle to transparency and a very vicious cycle of obfuscation,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. When employees are curious and denied access to information, they become resentful and start digging. “That’s when executive management says, well, clearly we can’t trust our employees with this information. So, we’re going to have to buckle down and release even less information.”
Instead, treat employees “like adults” and be completely transparent.
18Stop talking and start listening
“Leaders who listen are able to create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and breed loyalty. You know the leaders who have their employees’ best interests at heart because they truly listen to them,” writes Glenn Llopis, founder of the Glenn Llopis Group.
“As a leader, it’s difficult to really know what your employees are thinking about, what’s troubling them or how to help them get out of a performance slump – unless you take the time listen to them.”
Llopis adds, “Listening goes well beyond being quiet and giving someone your full attention. It requires you to be aware of body language, facial expressions, mood, and natural behavioural tendencies. Listening should be a full-time job when you consider the uncertainty embedded in the workplace and the on-going changes taking place.”
19Write ‘thank-you’ notes
Harvey Mackay, founder of the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, says that, “The cost of praising someone is nil – but every psychological study shows the payoff is huge. Employees want to be seen as competent, hardworking members of the team. You want satisfied, motivated and productive staff members. What better motivator than thanking employees for their contributions to the company’s success?”
Make sure, however, that you’re sincere, specific, share publicly, and keep the praise on-going.
20They don’t tolerate poor performance
“Anyone running an organisation understands how important talent is,” says Duncan Maru from Possible. “But many early stage social enterprises are impatient, cut corners on hiring, or don’t transition people out quickly enough when things are not working. You need to be aggressive and brutally honest about your talent pool.”
21They hold themselves accountable
Accountability, according to Michael Hyatt, “means that you accept responsibility for the outcomes expected of you – both good and bad. You don’t blame others. And you don’t blame the external environment. There are always things you could have done – or still can do – to change the outcome.”
“Until you take responsibility, you are a victim. And being a victim is the exact opposite of being a leader.”
Hyatt adds, “Victims are passive. They are acted upon. Leaders are active. They take initiative to influence the outcome.”
22They challenge the status quo
“Internally, the impact of the status quo is a stagnant culture that pushes away top performers,” writes Matt Wagner, vice president of strategy at Client Focus.
“Your best employees are driven by the need to do something great. When they run into obstacles that don’t make any sense to them, they start thinking about greener pastures. Of course, the opposite is true of your bureaucrats and your go-along-to-get-along employees. They hope to milk the status quo for as long as possible. They hate change.”
23Have face-to-face discussions
“There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by e-mail and iChat,” Steve Jobs told author Walter Isaacson. “That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
Don’t be afraid to celebrate your accomplishments. Just celebrate those of others more, recommends Nina Vaca of the Pinnacle Group.
With my company, this means that we celebrate even the little accomplishments of others.
25They encourage continuous learning
“Learning is the minimum requirement for success in your field,” writes Brian Tracy. “Information and knowledge on everything is increasing every day. This means that your knowledge must also increase to keep up.”
The best leaders encourage their employees to read, attend workshops, and conferences so that they “can get ahead in every aspect of” their lives.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Coaching: The Best-Kept Secret To Growing As An Entrepreneur
A good coach can turn raw talent into refined expertise and refined talent into renowned success. But how do we bridge “the coaching gap”?
Sometimes, a change at the top can be the difference between a perennial loser and a surprise contender. For proof, look no further than the Los Angeles Rams, a team which less than a year ago wrapped up a 4-12 season that included a midyear coaching transition.
New coach Sean McVay appears to have energised his players, helping the Rams capture momentum that was completely absent when the team lost seven consecutive games to close out the 2016 season.
Yes, the Rams play football, but there’s a lesson there for startup and small business owners. Because, like professional athletes, entrepreneurs perform better under the guidance of great coaches.
And the news there is good: Due to the competitive advantages entrepreneurs enjoy from expert coaching, the marketplace for coaches has started to swell. According to the 2016 Global Coaching study by the International Coach Federation and PricewaterhouseCoopers, global coaching revenue was estimated to be about $2.4 billion in 2015, besting 2011’s figure by a substantial 19 percent.
Not to mention what’s happening with the bigger guys: Up to 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies now work with executive coaches, according to consulting firm Hay Group.
Related: Paddy Upton: People Centred Coaching
Yet, while executive coaching has gained traction, many start-up founders lack access to high-quality coaches. The paradox? They can’t afford an experienced coach, but need one to be able to build their companies to the point of being able to do just that.
What separates a coach from a mentor
I posted about this coaching paradox on LinkedIn a while back, and my post attracted a flood of comments. After reading them through, I realised that many people don’t understand the distinction between a mentor and a coach. While these positions might seem similar, there’s actually a world of difference between the two.
“Mentors,” for one thing, don’t usually follow a fixed schedule or require payment. They help with strategic issues, answering questions for founders without actively participating in company operations.
“Coaches,” on the other hand, are not afraid to get their hands dirty. They are typically paid, and operate on, a fixed schedule to help entrepreneurs make themselves better. Mentors offer great advice; coaches ask great questions.
Based on the comments my post attracted, founders of new start-ups are hungry for a coach. There’s a huge gap in the start-up community as it relates to coaching; everyone needs it, but relatively few people are willing to provide it for free. So, what to do?
How to bridge entrepreneurship’s coaching gap
The question is, how do we solve the paradox and match enterprising, young CEOs with talented coaches? The answer to this coaching quandary rests in the basic ecology of entrepreneurship. By studying the interactions between entrepreneurs and their physical environment, a cycle of mutually beneficial coaching exchanges begins to emerge.
Here are its three steps:
1. First-time founders: Barter for coaches
Young founders probably can’t afford to shell out more than $1 million a year for coaching sessions with Tony Robbins. Instead, they must find coaches willing to offer their services for a low cost. They also might be able to trade their own services for coaching.
My first coach, James, was also one of my clients when I was running my first company in Ohio. James was a sales coach who asked us to build his new website. When I initially met with him to discuss the project, I accidentally went to the wrong Starbucks. I arrived 15 minutes late for our meeting, which prompted his first lesson: “Be on time when you meet with people. You’re young, and you need to do the little things to ensure that others take you seriously and treat you as a professional.”
Many team members from BounceFire still remember “the call” James made to our office one day when things weren’t going well. We took our lumps, but we learned incredible lessons. He later admitted that he was deliberately hard on me because he wanted to see me succeed.
All first-time entrepreneurs should have someone like that to push them harder and help them navigate the early pitfalls of leadership – inside and outside of work. Work your network to find someone who might be willing to provide a bit of free (or relatively cheap) coaching every now and then to help keep you on track.
2. Connect growing founders to paid coaches
Founders of expanding companies have experienced enough success to know where their problems lie, but they haven’t mastered everything. Paid executive coaches can hold founders accountable and provide detailed wisdom during critical decisions, making them a worthwhile investment.
Not sure what to look for in a good executive coach? Countless executives have gleaned incredible insights from the likes of Jerry Colonna, who uses self-inquiry to help executives hone their leadership skills and better understand themselves. Others take a more solution-oriented approach, asking questions to steer executives through routine business issues. Such was the case with Silicon Valley legend Bill Campbell. Find someone who meshes with your personal style, and view the monthly fee as a worthwhile investment in your company’s future.
According to the study by the International Coach Federation, 23 percent of coaches surveyed said they primarily focus on executives. Growing founders should not hesitate to invest some time and money into someone who can help them get more out of themselves.
3. Develop successful founders into coaches and advisors
The path to coaching is relatively simple for successful entrepreneurs, because it’s typically one of the key traits you develop as a leader. Find one or two first-time founders whom you truly believe in, and give them an hour or two of your time every month for coaching sessions. This will keep your coaching and leadership skills sharp, and you will be helping the next generation of entrepreneurs.
I am still working to become a better coach and leader, but I do advise several start-ups across the country. I also find myself in an advisory role for many of our accelerator start-ups. We recently took seven of them to GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, and it was great to spend time mentoring start-up founders while learning about their unique struggles.
Once you have some experience, you might consider doing a paid coaching engagement with an active or growing founder. As you break your way into the coaching scene, don’t forget to continue to work with your own coach – you’ll still need some help along the way.
Executive coaching shouldn’t be rare or reserved for well-connected entrepreneurs. A good coach can turn raw talent into refined expertise or refined talent into renowned success. From the greenest start-up to the most seasoned veterans, coaching is the key to unlocking untapped potential.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Why Your Fleet Management Plays a Pivotal Role In Your Business
Fleet managers and fleet management tools are often associated with large logistics and transportation companies.
Fleet managers and fleet management tools are often associated with large logistics and transportation companies.
But, if your company:
- Relies on transportation and vehicles to service your clients or deliver a product
- Is interested in improving efficiencies and productivity, and saving on the bottom line
- Has transport costs as a line-item on your expense report
- Then you are a fleet manager — whether the title exists in your business or not.
Why do companies need fleet management?
WEBFLEET lets people work better together to achieve business results. When everyone is connected, people can work better together and this can help make smarter decisions to help businesses achieve their goals. These can include: Improved efficiency, improved productivity, improved accountability, greater focus on service, greater responsibility, and innovation.
WEBFLEET gets you closer to your drivers
When your team is connected, this helps everyone make better decisions — and that facilitates happy customers, great governance and reaching new goals for your business.
Quick to implement and easy to use, WEBFLEET provides immediate vehicle insight, tracking, messaging and controls, totally in sync with your core business processes.
What is WEBFLEET?
Software as a Service (online fleet management software) that provides businesses with immediate information about what is happening with their vehicles, people and orders in the field, designed for any business size and every vehicle type (passenger cars, vans, trucks).
WEBFLEET connects the vehicles and drivers with the staff in the office, bringing them closer together.
WEBFLEET provides vehicle tracking, fleet optimisation, workforce management and the option to integrate business applications.
The right fleet management solution will not only help you save on your bottom line, it can help you improve efficiencies and productivity, and give your customers a better overall experience.
TomTom Telematics is assisting its customers through the following solutions and differentiators:
- A future-proof solution, thanks to continuous innovation. 17 years of experience in processing big data and turning it into actionable insights for TomTom Telematics’ clients means ground-breaking and continuous innovation is par for the course. These innovations include the industry’s first SaaS, first APIs, OptiDrive 360, maximum reliability and security due to an ISO 27001 certification and full reporting.
- Proof through platform. WEBFLEET offers high standards of confidentiality, integrity and availability. It also offers an API that seamlessly integrates into any business process. TomTom Telematics also has the largest partner ecosystem with hundreds of proven integrations and add-on applications in the world.
- An optimised user-experience. TomTom Telematics technology and products have been integrated to create an optimised user experience, including maps, traffic services and driver terminals.
- Workflow efficiency. Help deliver higher standards of customer service and improve productivity through real-time visibility on vehicle location and mileage reporting, and live and historic geo-location data, which enriches dynamic routing and scheduling applications.
- 77% – of workers drive over the speed limit due to work pressure
- 30% – of your vehicles’ total cost of ownership is influenced by the way the car is driven
How You Can Make Leadership Excellence An Effortless Effort
From my childhood I was literally fascinated by the seemingly effortless performances of individuals whom have mastered their craft.
“Wu-Wei” – From original Chinese, meaning effortless effort
From my childhood I was literally fascinated by the seemingly effortless performances of individuals whom have mastered their craft. Images of Luciano Pavorotti hitting high C notes with simplified grace, Chris Cornell’s raw rock voice hitting gravel and then reaching for the heavens, Lang Langs’ majestic hands creating unimaginable sounds on the ivory whites of a piano, Tony Robbins’ flaming and scorching energy, Churchills’ effortless and eloquent speeches, Bransons’ unrelenting passion for business and people, Jona Lomus’ awesome power, and Bolts’ graceful running leaves me in a state of inspired awe.
When the state of amazement enthused by great individuals dissipate we are left with a burning question:
How does one become a leader in any field and how does one reach a state where optimal performance virtually becomes a natural state?
Related: Servant Leadership – Will You Serve?
A vast amount of experiential learning and volumes of information would empower an individual to attempt an answer to this question. This writing is not an attempt at a solution to this complex question but instead only serves as a guide to those individuals whom has a burning desire to earnestly start on their search to find the truth for themselves.
Are leaders and top performers simply born with a great talent and therefore naturally will outperform others? Not necessarily so. Some modern Leaders such as Gary Vaynerchuck are totally unimpressed by talent yet very impressed by a knack for people skills.
The Legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi used to say: “Talent simply means you have not done it yet.”
The aforesaid implies that talent might be a bonus yet has to be combined with hard and effective work, as well as toughened mental capacity, to be moulded into skills required for performance at the highest level.
“We shall not melt in the fire but instead be tempered by it” – The great Winston Churchill was alluding to the British nations willingness to endure great hardships and be transformed into one unified front and a patriotic nation during the carnage of the second world war. Most great Leaders ultimately learnt that hardships were not something to resist but rather something to invite in when it knocks at your door as it is the very hardships that teach and shape us, that is if we allow it to.
Those who fear their own inner greatness will run from the hardships and thereby neglect the wonderful yet very uncomfortable opportunity to grow as a leader and a human being. The daring few who would embrace their inner greatness, foster their own commitment and willingly be’ tempered by fire’ have started their journey towards greatness.
When embarking on this journey reflect on the fact that never was a great leader made without help. A high level of self -awareness which is a basic requirement of effective Leadership dictates that we must get rid of the small voice of the ego that tempts us into daring to think that we could know it all and do all by ourselves. Be open to advice, seek help from the wise, and more importantly act on good advice.
When you earnestly seek mentorship the one that turns you down in general was not the right one in the first place. Alternatively, he or she turned you down because you were not ready to be mentored and must first earnestly seek your own heart for the truth about your intentions.
Your intent is the crucial factor and on the path to greatness everyone would do well to introspectively seek every corner of their hearts and minds and ask:
- What do I honestly seek?
- Is it fame or to help others or both?
- Do I have pure selfish intent, or do I want to give back and coach other Leaders?
Without sacrifice, without a burning desire to succeed, without help, and without ethical intent this journey is ‘a bridge too far’. A Leadership journey based on a hunger for power over others and greed for money might take you to great heights initially but the fall from those dizzying heights is far and excruciatingly painful.
What follows is an attempt to answer the very general questions facing most of us when we decide on whether we should embark on a personal Leadership journey or not:
Can anyone Lead?
Yes, it is a matter of intent, effective work, mentorship, sacrifice, people skills and continuous learning amongst other factors.
Does a title such as CEO, shareholder, president, professor imply that I am a leader?
No, a title is merely a name allocated to a position, the behaviours that led me to that title and the behaviours displayed for as long as I am in that position determines whether I was a leader or not, while I had or claimed to have that title. Leadership is not a title it consists out of behaviours that gives a title deep meaning and validity.
Do I have to have a formal qualification to be recognised as a leader?
No. Your behaviour determines whether you are a leader or not. Continuous learning is a basic Leadership behaviour. Whether that means you obtain a formal qualification or learn through a mentor which learning does not result in a formal qualification has no bearing on your Leadership capacity or capabilities.
Contemplation of the above answers to the general questions that a lot of people consider might lead the reader to think that the state of “Wu-Wei”- “Effortless-effort “can only be achieved through a lot of effort. In thinking that you are correct, yet it is not only a matter of effort. To get to the ultimate state of performance as a leader each one of us must be so committed to a cause higher than ourselves that we are willing to be ‘tempered by fire’. We must cast our egos aside and remain “teachable”, and most importantly give back by coaching other leaders.
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