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25 Leadership Lessons From Millionaire Business Owners

Build your team with the employees who just want a leader that helps them excel.

John Rampton

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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

sir-richard-branson

“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.”

Related: 5 Leadership Secrets Stolen From Famous People

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

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.”

6Be nice

mark-cuban

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.

Related: Inspiration From 7 Legendary Business Titans

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.

8Constantly evolve

bill-gates

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.”

Related: Be A Business Leader. Not A Number Cruncher

11Create a family-friendly environment

mark-zuckerberg

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.

13Communicate effectively

warren-buffett

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

arianna-huffington

“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).”

Related: 10 Harsh Lessons That Will Make You More Successful

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.”

17Be transparent

jeff-weiner

“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

michael-hyatt

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.”

24Celebrate accomplishments

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

brian-tracy

“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.

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and has been one of the Top 10 Most Influential PPC Experts in the World for the past three years. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.

Leading

Crisis Management In A Digital Age

If you’re at a loss for how to go about jumping into the fray of social media commenting and opinions, here are a few tips to protect you, your business, and your brand’s reputation.

Darren Mansour

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In business, you can’t ignore what’s being said about you online. Most importantly, you need to respond appropriately. The internet is a free-for-all of consumer commentary, inevitably, some of it can be damaging.

Crisis management comes with the Online reputation management (ORM) territory of changing negative sentiment around your brand into a positive.

It can be difficult to know how to respond, keep things positive, or change the sentiment around your brand. If you’re at a loss for how to go about jumping into the fray of social media commenting and opinions, here are a few tips to protect you, your  business, and your brand’s reputation.

1. Avoid a Knee Jerk Reaction

Reading what could be perceived as negative commentary on your brand, business, products, services, or employees, can cause you to jump straight into responding by justifying yourself or trying to show that the consumer is off the mark and misinformed. These are normal reactions, but it isn’t necessarily going to help your brand or positively push your online presence.

Rule number one is not to place blame, especially on the consumer or commenter, even if the comment is negative, false, or misleading. Rule number two is never to take it personally and do not to respond emotionally or in an accository fashion.

Pay attention, think it through, then respond in a calm, professional and appropriate way. Set a clear ORM response policy around commenting and responding to comments.

Related: Crisis Management: Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail

2. Consider Comments as Free Research

Think of the comments you receive on social media, both good and bad, as consumer research. Keep a record of your comments and responses, tips, questions, suggestions, and key problems. You’ll find that your customer, fan, and follower will give you valuable information that you would not otherwise have.

The idea is to change negative sentiment around your brand into positive while at the same time leveraging off the information and data gained through this process. This perspective will assist you to see the value in this engagement with your brand. Online Reputation Management should be a daily task. This is all part of maintaining your online reputation and digital media presence.

3. Remember That Everyone’s Reading Your Responses

The most important reason to respond to both positive and negative comments is because everyone else on that thread is reading the banter. The amount of people reading the comments usually outweighs those actively participating in the conversation by commenting. They are all paying close attention to how the business and brand responds.

Related: How To ‘Crisis-Proof’ your Company

Appropriately responding to less negative comments presents the opportunity to demonstrate how connected the brand is with their consumer, it is the perfect platform to solve potential problems and defuse particular situations. When a business listens and responds to feedback online, in an appropriate manner, a sense of trust is created. It shows that the brand is prepared to go above and beyond. This can stretch far beyond the commenter.

4. Hire Talent To Do Your Responding

In order to fully tap into the benefits of social media you should consider getting a specialist on board to manage your social content along with the responses that this content creates. It is important to be on the same page as your marketing team. If you are looking for an agency with the experience, guts, and glory to carry your brand, then get in touch with So Interactive for your digital marketing needs.

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How Entrepreneurs Can Make Good Decisions Quickly

Below are some tips on how you can do just that.

Amy Galbraith

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As an entrepreneur, you have to face difficult decisions on a near-daily basis. These can range from deciding on what marketing strategy suits your business best or choosing what new talent to hire for your team. Making good decisions quickly can be tricky, even more so if you are pressed for time. However, there are methods you can use to do this.

Decision-making is an intrinsic part of being an entrepreneur, and once you know the answer to “What is decision-making?” you will be better able to make good decisions, quickly. Below are some tips on how you can do just that.

Acknowledge what you are trying to accomplish

Making decisions can be difficult if you do not know what, exactly, you are trying to accomplish. Before you reach a decision, you will need to carefully look at what you are trying to accomplish and optimise. Once you have done this, you will be able to make the right, and quickest, decision.

An example of this is changing a marketing strategy. Are you trying to reach a new audience? Are you trying to release a new product to the public, or are you trying to change your brand’s image? Once you have acknowledged what you are trying to accomplish, you can decide on what options best suit the situation. This process might take time at first, but, once you have done it a few times, it will become second nature.

Related: 6 Common Decision-Making Blunders That Could Kill Your Business

Use available data

Having evidence or data to help with a decision can be highly useful for any entrepreneur. And in today’s online world, you will be able to find enough of both to help you make any decision, whether it is big or small.

Using data and evidence, you will be able to see how your company is currently performing and make a business decision based on this data. The key to making good decisions in the shortest amount of time possible is having the right evidence and information available. You will need to be sure that you understand the data and evidence in order to use it as part of your decision making.

Give yourself a deadline

It is important to set deadlines for decisions. This way, you will be able to make them quickly, effectively and before any problems become bigger than they need to be. For example, set a deadline for deciding on a new employee a week from their interview date. This gives you time to examine their strengths and weaknesses in depth before deciding.

Having a deadline creates a sense of urgency, meaning that you will spend less time procrastinating and more time on the actual decision-making. It will keep things moving forward and you will avoid “paralysis by analysis”, a common occurrence in entrepreneurs and business owners. Deadlines help to keep the goal in sight, allowing you to make a decision quickly and easily without overthinking it.

Get an outside opinion

Even the Khaleesi in Game of Thrones has an advisor to help her make decisions. And if she has one, it makes sense that a business owner or entrepreneur should too. It is a good idea to get an outside opinion, especially if you have been thinking about a decision for a long time.

An objective voice can help you to reach a final decision, as they can help you consider points that you might not have thought of. You could ask your friends or your colleagues for help, but be sure that they do not have any attachment to the decision. This can make it difficult for them to give objective advice. If you have a mentor, this is the best person to ask for advice.

Related: 5 Bad Decision-Making Habits That Can Destroy Your Business

Reframe the problem

Step back from the problem or decision you are facing and look at it from another angle. Often, reframing a problem or situation can help you to reach a speedy conclusion, especially in terms of business.

Try to see the issue from as many perspectives as possible, as this will help you to ensure that you are not emphasising one aspect and neglecting another. This is all a part of the answer to “what is decision making?” as seeing a problem from another perspective can help you to see the bigger picture. You should try to think of at least three different ways to see the problem and work from there.

Keep calm

One of the most important ways to make good decisions quickly is to keep calm. By keeping your emotions in check, you will better be able to make a decision that is smart and objective. The steps in decision-making include knowing what you want to accomplish, using the data available to you, giving yourself a deadline and asking for an outside opinion. Once you have taken all of these steps, you will be able to make efficient and effective business decisions.

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Simple Ways To Make Your Small Business More Professional

If you are looking to boost your business success and look more professional to clients, read on for some top tips on how to do so.

Amy Galbraith

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Owning and operating a small business can be tough, time-consuming and at times, frustrating. There is always a business out there that is more efficient, funky or more professional than you. But you can get an edge on the competition if you strive to be better.

One way to bring in more professionalism is to send your staff on office administration courses so that they are able to perform administrative tasks to improve efficiency, or you could hire a professional administrative assistant to do the job. If you are looking to boost your business success and look more professional to clients, read on for some top tips on how to do so.

Create a modern website

In today’s modern, digital age, the very first thing that people see when looking for your business is your website. And, having an unprofessional, outdated and badly designed one will send potential clients running for the hills before they even contact you to find out about your products or services.

It is not enough to have a Facebook Business Page, you will need to have a professional, modern website that tells clients exactly who you are, what you do and (most importantly) what you can do for them. You will also need to include your contact details, office address and business hours, so that your clients can reach you when they need you. A modern website will entice customers to find out more about your company, too.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

Always use a business email

You might think that creating another email address is tedious, but think about how embarrassing it would be to email clients from your current one that you might have created in high school (BarbiePrincess89@hotmail.com is hardly going to impress anyone).

If you already have a business website, then setting up a business email is quick, simple and more often than not, free. You can use Google My Business or other similar tools to create a business email that reads YourName@yourbusiness.com, which is much more professional and will send the right message to your clients. A business email also makes it easier for you to answer work emails quickly and efficiently, as you will not be scrolling through your personal inbox, trying to find them.

Have someone to answer your phones

If you have employees for your small business, you should look into sending someone on office administration courses so that they are able to answer your office phone quickly, effectively and in a professional manner.

Having a receptionist or office administrator to answer your phones immediately makes your small business seem more professional. And it will allow you to focus on more important tasks, rather than having to answer a ringing phone all day. Your office administrator will be able to forward calls to you, take messages and answer any queries that clients may have. This will give clients a positive experience when dealing with your business too.

Avoid formal titles on your business cards

If you are a “one-man-band”, so to speak, it can be tempting to call yourself the CEO of your business, or a similarly formal title. After all, you are the one putting in all the work, right? However, clients will not be impressed by this title and it could backfire rather than work in your favour.

More often than not, calling yourself the CEO of a one-person company will make you look unprofessional and appear to be a “small-time” operation, especially as the CEO is the one chasing up clients and running around doing all the grunt work. It is best to simply leave it at your name and the name of your business. You do not need a title to prove that you are good at your job, rather let your products and/or services speak for you.

Related: How South African Small Business Owners Can Overcome Economic Uncertainty

Lease a professional office space

If you are just starting out or your small business has not yet taken off, you may not have a professional office address or space. While it can help to cut costs to operate out of your home, it will not help to raise your level of professionalism in the eyes of your clients.

You could look into leasing a workspace in a coworking space such as No 80 Hout Street in Cape Town or Worq in Pietermaritzburg. Having a professional space to meet with clients and to conduct your business will increase your success and will help you to stand out against the competition. Coworking spaces are highly popular among young entrepreneurs and you might even meet like-minded people who you can collaborate with on projects for clients.

Professionalism is in the eye of the beholder

Going on office administration courses, having a modern website created for you, creating a business email and hiring someone to answer your phones are all highly effective ways to make your small business more professional. Clients will appreciate the effort that you have put into crafting a professional presence, no matter if you have one employee or ten.

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