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4 Easy-To-Fix Mistakes You May Be Making In Your Business Right Now

Some 163 entrepreneurs shared the mistakes they’d made with this contributor; now he’s sharing how you can avoid making them yourself.

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Success comes in many forms, but the journey to get there is rarely a simple one. There are ups and downs, twists and turns, and often an ongoing struggle of trial and error before you find success – whether it be personal or professional.

There is no “one size fits all” solution, and if you were to speak to a hundred successful individuals, they would cite for you a hundred different approaches. Yet, despite this array of issues, there are trends and patterns we can all use to our advantage, including examples of how successful folk have approached mistakes and failure.

In fact, the truth is that those you admire have built a career on the backs of mistakes and failures, learning from them and progressing a little further each time. They are no different from you and me; they are not immune to obstacles. What’s different is that they use these obstacles to their advantage.

I realised this after interviewing 163 entrepreneurs for my latest book (The Successful Mistake) about how these individuals transformed past mistakes into subsequent success. They taught me that mistakes happen regardless of money, fame or fortune, and that it’s your job to turn things around (and spot these issues before they have a chance to build).

From the anecdotes my interviewees shared, I want to share four such mistakes that you may be making right now. If you happen to be making one or more of these errors – and you allow them to continue – they potentially could transform into business-threatening failures.

Related: Common Mistakes SMEs Make When Looking At Growth Opportunities

If you catch them beforehand, however, they’re all often easy to fix.

1. Don’t listen to the “yes men”

When I interviewed the New York Times best-selling author Steve Olsher (What is Your What?), he told me how he built a successful online business (Liquor.com) before the dot.com boom. Because he was in the right place at the right time, Olsher said, he enjoyed a lot of success, and had many people “beating down my door.”

Investors and “experts” alike showered him with advice and promises of this and that. But, a caveat: “They wanted to see experienced CEOs and CFOs [join his company].” So, Olsher told me, when I interviewed him: “I literally signed away my management rights to the company.”

Within a few months of signing over those rights, he – and so many others – watched as the dot.com crash disrupted their lives.

Those “yes men”? They disappeared, and Olsher realised that he was the only person who could run his business. It wasn’t that he didn’t speak enough or listen enough, but rather that he didn’t filter out the noise. The takeaway? Once you build a successful company, this “noise” will surround you. It’s your job to disregard it, and get rid of those yes men. They represent a mistake that’s easy to fix when there are just a few of them. But the more there are, the harder it gets.

2. Don’t get stuck in your own head

The flip side to Olsher’s issue of listening to others is to lose yourself in your own ideas.

Few people create greatness on their own. It takes collaboration and communication, which teenage prodigy Fraser Doherty lacked during the early days of his startup, SuperJam.

Having learned how to make tasty jam from his grandmother, young Fraser began to make it and sell it around his local community as a young teen. Word took off. Local shops wanted to stock it. Fraser quickly outgrew his operations, so he decided to go “all in” and build his brand (so he could pitch to the U.K.’s major supermarkets later that year).

The teen hired a local design agency to develop his brand, but he had his own ideas and insisted they stick to them. That’s how he lost himself in his own ideas, forgetting to involve other people in the lead-up to his big pitch. When that day arrived, things didn’t go according to plan. The supermarket chains rejected him. They said no.

Related: 5 Mistakes Millennial Entrepreneurs Make With Money

Devastated, Fraser had to pick up the pieces, soon realising that his own lack of communication had been the issue. He had lost himself in himself – an issue we all face at some point. Your job is to stop this from happening, and force yourself to involve others in the process.

3. Don’t play the blame game

blame-game

When hardship hits, it’s easy to play the blame game (by blaming either yourself or someone else).

Tech entrepreneur Brian Foley and his team of co-founders experienced this as they committed to turning their app-idea to app-reality. They spent months designing the Buddytruk app, and after positive feedback, knew their Uber-like service would prove successful.

The problem was, nobody on their team had the experience to develop the app’s framework, so they hired a programmer.This tech expert soon finished the app, but the result fell short of Foley’s and the team’s expectations.

“At first, we blamed the developer,” Foley told me, during our interview. “They didn’t a do a good job, but then as we thought about the situation more, we realised we’d never communicated what we wanted – and didn’t fully appreciate what we wanted as a business or team.”

Blame didn’t solve the problem (it rarely does) for the team members; but taking a step back, and summing responsibility for their own lack of communication, did. They soon got on the same page. They build a better app. They articulated their idea and then some; but that happy upshot occurred only after they quit playing the blame game.

4. Do not presume . . . anything!

This final mistake is possibly the most dangerous of all, because you know what you know, and it all seems so simple to you.

You build a business, perform a task, work through a process and tell yourself that the process is second nature to you. It’s easy for you, and it’s easy to presume other people will find it easy, too. Big mistake.

Podcaster and serial entrepreneur Ben Krueger found this out the hard way during the early days of Cashflow Podcasting.

Initially, Krueger told me, he found success after success, because the popularity of podcasting meant that more people needed help creating, launching and promoting their shows. He offered a high-quality and personal service, and soon had so much work that he couldn’t keep up.

That’s when he hired his first employee to ease the strain, and after showing that person how to use the successful process he had developed, he got back to work under the assumption that all was well.

Related: 6 Rookie Investor Mistakes You Must Avoid For Profitable Investing

Soon after, however, a few of his customers noticed a drop-off in quality, and his previous happy customer base grew increasingly unhappy by the week.

It wasn’t that Krueger’s new employee didn’t have the right skill set, but rather that Krueger, the founder, didn’t take the time to communicate the exact process his customers were used to (step by step).

The takeaway: As a leader, you cannot presume that those around you know what you know. What is easy for you may not be easy for them. How you work may not be how they work.

This isn’t their problem. It’s yours; it’s your job to communicate what you want, how you want it and why you want it that way – and then, show your employees/interns how to do what you want them to do.

These are just four mistakes that have the power to shake your world; and if you cannot relate to at least one of them, I’ll be amazed. So, right now, I ask you to take a step back and honestly answer:

… Am I making one of these mistakes?

If you are, don’t worry. Get back to work, turn things around and fix these issues before they grow into something much larger.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Matthew Turner is the author of The Successful Mistake: How 163 of The World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Transform Failure Into Success. To learn how you can do the same, visit successfulmistake.com/entrepreneur.

Entrepreneur Today

Business Leadership: Leading A Culturally Diverse Business Team

The question every successful business leader needs to consider – How do we collectively experience joy and manage and/or avoid suffering as a business and as a team?

Dirk Coetsee

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As I witnessed the rain dancing against the window panes of the Mega mall in Midvalley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I started reflecting on how to lead a culturally diverse business team.

Thousands of Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans passed me in the hallways of this gargantuan construction and the Dalai Lamas’ wise words reminded me that at the core of it all, irrespective of what your nationality is or what your belief system is, in general:

“We all want to experience joy and avoid suffering”

A key question that every team leader should carefully consider is how do we collectively experience joy and manage and/or avoid suffering as a business and as a team?

How can we as a diverse team be united in the joys of experiencing an expanding and successful business with a wonderful and constructive culture and avoid the suffering of a failing business and the negative experience of a toxic culture?  These are of course ‘loaded’ questions because inherent within these questions are the birthing of other key challenges –

How can we as Leaders create a relatively stable and inspirational environment from within which it is easier for each individual to unlock their vast potential when vast differences in upbringing, schooling, world views, and religious beliefs exists within one team. Especially when considering the ever changing and evolving business environment within which we operate?

Fulfilling the role of a Business Leadership coach, trainer, or life coach as the situation demanded over several years I have coached, Lead, or trained Pilipino, Chinese, Malay, African, and European people. A very key learning from my experiences is that a “cross cultural and shared understanding” can be created that transcends any spoken language or any national culture.

Related: Leadership – Lead Your Team To Dizzying Heights Of Productivity And Business Success

This common language and culture has many elements but for the purpose of this article I will focus on the three key aspects:

Have a united and focused purpose

When a united and focussed purpose exists for the business team that they collectively place higher than themselves the barriers of differences in upbringing, schooling, and world views can dissolve within their shared purpose. As business leaders we cannot refer to purpose too much, even more importantly that that, we must be living, walking and talking examples of the businesses’ purpose.

Related: Leadership: The Principle Of Authenticity

To simplify the concept of purpose it can be said that purpose is the highest intent for, or the very good reason why we do what we do. That reason is or should be even more important than ourselves. When we really love what we do and sincerely so our performance is likely to be very good, on the other hand if we totally dislike the line of business that we are in or totally despise our role within an entrepreneurial venture we are likely not going to unleash our unlimited potential.

It could be argued that the sole purpose for having a business is to make a profit. Through this article I argue that that is not a strong enough reason to sustain you and make you thrive even through difficult times. The strange thing is that when you truly live your purpose with all your might and tirelessly inspire your team to do the same the money comes anyway…

 Servant heart and attitude

Rabindranath TagoreRabindranath Tagore famously said:

“I dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy.”

A servant heart is universal and transcends cultural difference, a sincere and giving smile is a beautiful language of its own that needs no translation. If that ‘servant heart and smile’ is underpinned by well-developed people and technical skills it multiplies into a potent combination of character, experience, and wisdom that has great influential power within any culture.

Related: Leadership: What Is Your Why? (Read Purpose)

Whether it is through the use of interpreters, and even if it takes great patience, even when a lot of mistakes are made, persevere until everyone in the team understands that servant leadership is the key to winning the minds and hearts of others.

When all in the team becomes aware that we were only ever meant to master ourselves and thereby become better servants to all, this heightened awareness can unlock the unlimited potential within individuals in the team.

Respect for people and their worldviews

poet RumiMy favourite poet Rumi said:

‘The wound is where the light seeps in’

Respect all as we could not understand each individuals’ pain and hardships unless we went through it ourselves. Have compassion for all as we, in general expect compassion when we go through hardships. We can only imagine what sets of beliefs we would entertain where we to grow up in a completely different culture.

Related: Leadership: Honesty Is The First Chapter In The Book Of Wisdom

My endless curiosity and determination to learn has served me well as a coach for when your interest in others is sincere they tend to ‘open up’ to you and share and thereby you fasttrack your own learning and gain insights into your co-team members worldviews which in turn greatly enhances the team dynamics.

Be authentic and acknowledge your vulnerabilities, ‘wounds’ and shortcomings and be proud of your strengths for then your team members will help you to overcome your weaknesses and learn from your strengths.

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Leading

15 Ways To Command A Conversation Like A Boss

If you’re the one talking, it’s your responsibility to make sure others are listening.

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Conversations can elicit a range of emotions. They may be daunting, or they may be dreaded. They may be awkward, or they may be monotonous. The good news is, you, as a participant in any conversation, have more control than you think about whether these emotions overtake the dialogue.

Having a successful conversation is about striking the balance between preparedness and flexibility, between explaining your thoughts clearly and knowing when to pause or check in. It’s about being upfront about your preferences and ideas while being open to adapting them based on what comes of the discussion.

A fruitful conversation stems from establishing a rapport with someone. Show them you know where they’re coming from. Clarify that you understand what they’ve said. Be respectful of their time and don’t dictate back to them how you perceive them to be thinking or feeling. Keep questions open-ended. Experiment with new conversation settings or styles. And don’t give in to the internal voices that try to convince you to defer too much or suffer in silence.

To help you get your points across and help others convey theirs, read through the following 15 tips, which expand more on the ideas above.

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Leading

Being A Born Entrepreneur Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re A Born Leader

The person who has the vision to start a company might not be the person to grow the company.

William Harris

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More often than not, we tend to think of entrepreneurship and leadership as synonymous qualities.

Entrepreneurs are expected to break new ground, be innovative, start something new. It only stands to reason they would naturally take charge of what they’ve created and lead it.

However, it turns out that the required skills of an effective entrepreneur are almost entirely different from the required skills of an effective leader. As many CEOs of growing companies can tell you, there’s a vast difference between creating a business and growing one.

One of the primary reasons great entrepreneurs including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford were so influential was precisely because they were both master entrepreneurs and leaders.

Related: Leadership: Honesty Is The First Chapter In The Book Of Wisdom

To successfully grow a business, an entrepreneur must learn how to become an effective leader. Here are the five leadership skills every entrepreneur must master:

Delegation

Entrepreneurs, and especially solopreneurs, who run growing businesses are eventually shocked to realise it is impossible to do everything by themselves. Most entrepreneurs are uncomfortable with the idea of delegation. They want to do everything themselves because they have a natural sense of ownership over their work. They find it difficult to believe anyone else would do what needs to be done. After all, they were the ones who built the business from scratch all by themselves.

The reality is, though, as a business grows, so does the amount of work that needs to go into running it.

Leaders understand their own time and energy are finite resources. Great leaders understand that, to be most effective in the company, they must play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses to others who are more qualified.

Steve Jobs famously played a very small part in building the OS and designing the original Apple computers. He knew how to grow a business, so he focused on what he could do and wisely left it to Steve Wozniak and his team to execute his vision.

Communication

lone-wolfThe perk of being a lone wolf is that you know exactly what needs to be done and the right way to do it. But, that has to change when you find yourself a leader.

We all have horror stories of working for a manager who didn’t communicate instructions effectively, which inevitably leads to confusion and frustration from both parties. As a leader, you’ll need to clearly and succinctly explain everything from your vision to administrative tasks to your employees.

But, communication is not a one-way street. You need to know what to say and how to listen. Effective leaders don’t simply give orders. They accept feedback and criticism, as well.

A constant bridge of communication between a leader and an employee not only reduces inefficiencies but also leads to a healthier and more productive workplace for all.

Related: The One Leadership Trait That Will Ensure You Succeed At Anything You Do

Inspiration

Entrepreneurs seldom lack in the inspiration department. They were passionate enough to start a business themselves, but not everyone shares their enthusiasm. A key skill of any good leader is to inspire the people around them.

It’s not enough to simply tell people what their job is and expect them to do it. To get the most out of your team, you have to make them believe in your vision and feel like they’re actively making an impact in their role. This is especially important when working in a start-up.

The good news is that anyone can become an inspiring leader as long as they create a clear culture around the company’s vision, values, and beliefs.

When Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks as CEO, he quickly realised the majority of his employees were no longer focused on providing customers with a positive experience. This led him to shut down 7,100 stores one day to retrain all baristas on making an espresso. This bold move not only sharpened his employees’ technical skills, but also quickly brought Starbucks’ ultimate vision back into focus.

Coaching

As an entrepreneur, you should be well aware of just how powerful a mentor can be to personal and professional growth. As a leader, if you want your employees to be as effective as possible, you need to do more than just give them orders.

Along with giving them the resources they need to do their job well, you also need to be able to help them move forward in their own careers.

This can be as simple as offering them training in skills they are interested in, giving them more responsibilities, or spending more one-on-one time with them. Leaders should be able to do more than just lead from the front; they have to be able to provide support from behind as well.

By adopting a coaching mentality, you can be assured of your employees’ loyalty to you and your vision. Plus, helping your employees achieve their full potential means they’re more likely be an asset to you and your business.

Related: How To Make Speedy Decisions As A Leader

Adaptability

It should go without saying that being innovative and adaptive is key for entrepreneurs. But, instead of only using their knack for problem-solving on market opportunities, leaders are also focused on providing solutions for problems within the company.

A large part of running a growing company is learning how to deal with internal problems like employee disputes, disorganisation, or a lack of motivation. Employees will always look to the leader to solve these issues.

When no clear-cut solutions are present, leaders need to be able to think outside the box. One surefire way to quickly lose both the respect and trust of your employees is to outsource the solution to someone else or avoid responsibility by blaming others.

Last-minute changes and mishaps happen in any business, so it’s up to the leader to adapt quickly and show everyone else the right way to handle these situations.

If entrepreneurs who have the passion and innovation to start their own businesses can develop these five skills of great leaders, they will be most effective in leading those businessess into growth and a bright future.

Read next: What Kind Of Leader Are You?

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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