Connect with us

Leading

4 Leadership Lessons You Won’t Learn In Business School

True leaders are born, not built in a classroom.

Sujan Patel

Published

on

business-school-lessons

Nailing down your MBA could help give you the business savvy you need to launch your startup or rise in the ranks of your current company. But not having that celebrated diploma hanging on your office wall doesn’t mean you can’t find your path to success.

CNBC reported on research from Wealth-X which found that only 13 percent of today’s global billionaires have an MBA. That’s not all: Only 30 percent of those billionaires have a bachelor’s degree. Those statistics indicate there is something else at play for these billionaires besides a formal education.

I have found this to be true for my own life. While I am certainly not a billionaire, I am a college dropout, and everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned by execution. It’s paid off: By the time my friends were out of school, I was already earning six figures and had four different investments making money for me. While those buddies were in college, I hustled; and by age 23, my income was already $140,000. By the time I was 25, my company had passed $1 million in revenue.

So, the message here is that there’s no right path to success, but there is more to learn in business than lessons on strategic differentiation. If you’re waiting to step into a role as a great business leader, with an MBA in hand, you could be taking a detour to success. Instead, focus on some of the leadership lessons you can acquire right now.

Related: 25 Leadership Lessons From Millionaire Business Owners

Here are four leadership lessons you won’t learn in business school.

1Scale slowly and organically

Jeff Hayniewriting for Recode, nailed it when he described how impossible it is to scale quickly as a start-up: “You need a lot of things,” he wrote, “to make scaling fast work that are inherently a mismatch at a start-up, including well-defined processes and people that work well with and know those processes well.”

In other words, a strict structure isn’t exactly the hallmark of a startup. Nor is a strict structure a priority for most small businesses looking to launch into a cycle of rapid growth.

Instead, start scaling by automating your business processes first; for example, create training videos to onboard new hires quickly. Then, use that time you’ve earned, putting it back into your workweek, to focus on more client-relationship building, and organically add services and new clients.

The time to scale is when you have revenue in place to sustain the growth. Scale too fast without a solid process and revenue model in place, and your business will topple like a house of cards built too quickly.

2Get ready to sacrifice

barbara-corcoran

In theory, anyone familiar with hard work and growing with a company knows that sacrifice is required to realise success. The reality of what those late nights in the office and missed moments with your family really means only starts to sink in long after you’ve gotten your MBA.

Take some comfort in knowing that you’ll at least be in good company as you’re figuring out what you’ll need to sacrifice. Success interviewed accomplished entrepreneurs, including Barbara Corcoran, about their sacrifices. Corcoran described how she took a full-time job and left her company in the hands of a partner while she paid down her looming six-figure debt.

While her bosses loved her, she said, she hated being an employee. Yet, in the end, she recognized that swallowing her pride and making the sacrifice was a good move and helped save her company.

Be prepared to make your own sacrifices to capture the success you’re looking for. That might mean sacrifices, like Corcoran’s, of working for someone else or moving back in with your parents – as 30 percent of today’s millennials are doing. Just remember that these sacrifices are temporary, and can make your success more satisfying in the long run.

Related: Business & Leadership Lessons from Kumaran of Spartan

3Diversify early and often

Business school might tell you to monetise early, but that doesn’t always mean what you might think. For example, instead of focusing strictly on trying to turn your freemium SaaS project into a premium model, think about your income stream with the big picture in mind.

As a SaaS developer, you could offer consulting on the side, create a coding course for your peers or get paid to speak on the future of the SaaS industry.

The point is, diversify early and often. Recognise that you may need to launch side gigs just to make ends meet to get your business up and running – because unfortunately, securing funding isn’t always a reality for business owners and entrepreneurs. But using your income streams to bootstrap your business is within your control.

As a 23-year-old, I worked hard to diversify and increase my revenue through investments and by bootstrapping my successes. I invested in stocks, a commercial apartment complex and five startups (one of which tripled my investment).

There’s no reason why you can’t do the same. For example, today’s investors can crowdfund their way to a robust commercial real estate investment with a service like RealtyMogul for just a few thousand dollars down.

The income streams you develop now could end up opening the door to a new business in real estate or a position as a silent partner in a start-up that you never considered before.

4Practice gratitude

Turning gratitude into a daily practice isn’t on the radar of enough of today’s business leaders, despite the immeasurable professional and personal benefits. But, according to Psychology Today, gratitude opens the door to more relationships. I’ve discovered that relationship-building is a big factor in success, and so make a habit of helping others, as a way to network and forge more personal connections.

Gratitude also improves your overall psychological mindset. This can be crucial for entrepreneurs and business leaders who all too often suffer from depression and chronic stress in silence. Entrepreneurship and growing a business is not for the faint of heart, and we could all use more gratitude to help us remember why we were optimistic enough to jump into this arena in the first place.

Related: Ebrahim Matthews’ Lessons in Authentic Leadership

Then, what I personally love about gratitude is how it anchors you to the present to fully embrace and benefit from each experience. It’s like that new business inspiration that popped into your head when you were paying close attention to a speaker at a conference. It helps you gain a foothold on the work-life balance we all need in our lives.

So . . . an MBA? A diploma can be beneficial for someone who needs a solid understanding of business principles and making new connections. But earning one doesn’t necessarily turn you into a great leader.

Instead, you can reach out to mentors in your industry to help guide you through the process, and seek out people who know more than you and have been there before. At the end of the day, true leaders surround themselves with the talent that can help drive them forward. That’s not something you can do in a bubble, because a bubble will only put you on the slow route to success.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

In his more than 10 years as a marketer and entrepreneur, Sujan Patel has helped hundreds of companies boost online traffic, sales and strengthen brand reputation online. Sujan is the VP of marketing at When I Work -- an employee scheduling software solution for small businesses.

Advertisement
Comments

Leading

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

Can you adapt when the tough times hit?

Matthew Toren

Published

on

leadership-trait

Very few things are certain in entrepreneurship. Regardless of how much your preparation or previous experience, obstacles and events you never considered are bound to creep up. Things will not go as planned. And while that does not mean a lack of planning is okay, it does mean that you need one critical leadership trait to survive and thrive – not just in entrepreneurship, but in all you do.

But, before I get to that, I have a story for you.

Several years ago, my brother Adam and I met an entrepreneur who had been somewhat of a strip mall king in a certain part of the U.S. He shared his story with us one afternoon, and we were amazed at the turn of events he had experienced in the previous few years. He had owned about 60 strip malls and, up until 2006, had been expanding pretty quickly.

He explained that he had put a hold on expansion because he was one of few people at that time who saw the looming real estate collapse that was about to hit. Not only did he see it coming, but he was actually very excited about it. He considered it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he spent considerable time and money preparing to capitalise on the downturn. He liquidated much of his stock portfolio, downsized his company and even sold several properties while he knew he could get top dollar – all in preparation for a strip mall buying spree once the time was right.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

When the crash finally hit, about six months later than he originally predicted, he was shocked when it didn’t go as he had hoped. In his area of the country, commercial real estate faired better than in most areas, and the amazing deals he expected to see just weren’t there. He was able to close some bargain properties, but his “spree” fizzled pretty quickly, and he was stuck with liquid capital that needed a home – and one that offered the kind of return he had originally planned for.

With no experience in residential real estate, but knowing there were plenty of fire sales going on in that sector, he set out to change his entire approach, focusing on buying single family houses. He ended up purchasing nearly 2,500 houses (mostly from the banks), and in many cases, was able to rent them back to the original owners, allowing people to stay in a house they would otherwise have lost.

While still real estate-related, this new venture was a far cry from the strip mall business. But, as residential property values have recovered, you can imagine the return he’s enjoyed from his investments. Today, his portfolio is diversified among commercial and residential, and he’s waiting for the next once-in-a-lifetime scenario to come along.

The one thing

What was it that this entrepreneur had – and I would argue every successful entrepreneur has – that allowed him to be ultra-successful, even when things didn’t go as planned? It’s flexibility. Having the ability and willingness to pivot when something gets in your way is crucial to your success.

There is not a single thriving business that looks exactly like its founder envisioned it when he or she started out. Mark Zuckerberg had no idea Facebook would be what it is today and had no way of knowing the giant obstacles he’d encounter along the way. The same goes for any successful enterprise. And the one thing that the leaders of those enterprises had to have had is flexibility.

Related: How You Can Make Leadership Excellence An Effortless Effort

Just as important as being flexible is knowing when to pivot (or “flex”). Someone who pivots at the first sign of change ends up being all over the place – unfocused and scattered. The key is to know when flexibility is necessary to stay on a course to success.

One great indicator that it’s time to pivot is when you feel like giving up. When a challenge presents itself that’s so daunting that you consider throwing in the towel, think flexibility instead. How can you change direction – maybe toward something you never even considered – to stay in the game?

Don’t be so married to your ideas that you must either rigidly pursue them or give them up completely. Incorporate flexibility into your life in a smart way, and you’ll be a leader in all you do.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Continue Reading

Leading

How To Make Speedy Decisions As A Leader

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Dirk Coetsee

Published

on

business-leadership

“Trusting one another, however can never mean trusting with the lip and mistrusting in the heart.” – Mahatma Gandhi


“Self-trust is the first secret of success” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Rapid decision-making

Harvard research has identified amongst other key traits of the most successful CEOs’ of Fortune 500 companies the ability to make decisions quickly and act on them at a rapid speed albeit with the inherent acknowledgement that they might get it wrong forty percent of the time.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

Why is speedy decision making and a rapid pace of execution so critical? Top leaders know that making quick decisions combined with swift execution creates a much better chance of success as opposed to very slow and bureaucratic verdicts underpinned by little or no action.

When there is a high level of distrust amongst the stakeholders in any entrepreneurial venture literally everything slows down as negative arguments ensue and takes up an enormous amount of precious time. Forced action underpinned by distrust loses quality and speed and can potentially bring a business to its knees.

“The speed of trust” is therefore an extremely valuable principle that all Leaders should live by, that is if they wish to serve a higher purpose than themselves and others. Those Leaders whom have developed a high level of self-trust and have earned the trust of their team members have put themselves in the very advantageous position of being empowered to move towards their vision at a rapid pace through quickfire decisions positively multiplied by confident and competent execution.

“The speed of trust” does not mean that decisions are made without careful consideration and stakeholder input putting the level of quality of execution at imminent risk. It simply means that the decision-making process is quicker than most as mistrust does not cast unnecessary shadows of doubt over the intentions and ambitions of all the stakeholders.

A Leader or Leaders whom has fostered self-trust within themselves will not go through lengthy spells of procrastination that those whom lack self -awareness and suffer from severe self- doubt has to go through.

How do I execute at the speed of trust?

How do I practically bring the principle of the “speed of trust” to fruition within my business? Firstly, ensure that this critical principal is applied throughout all business processes which starts with hiring trustworthy people and by working those out of the business whom cannot be trusted.  Secondly, as  a Leader your actions and words echo throughout every aspect of the business therefore do what you say you are going to do. Admit to your mistakes and fix them.

Thirdly be authentic in your pursuit of the vision of your business. One of the possible ways to achieve that is by being a visible and living example of the business values that you advocate as a leader.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

Lastly in order for you to be trusted as a leader you must first show trust in others. Trust others by giving them more responsibility and verbalise your high level of trust in your team members. Passionately speak about this principle and its positive fruits at every opportunity. Make the practical display of this principle by employees or any other stakeholders known to all stakeholders and be lavish with your praise when anyone is willing to earn the trust of other team members.

A very good example of this principle in action was embodied by the Supreme Russian commander, Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov whom never lost a battle and was respected by both his men and his enemies. He earned the trust of his men by being amongst them as often as he could, by sharing their hardships and by offering them the most authentic and quality military training known to man within that period of history.

Suvorov was a humble student of warfare and documented every detail of his learning experiences which included setbacks that he faced. He observed the morale of his men first hand and ensured that he inspired them not only through his inspiring speeches but by being a living example of discipline and bravery.

I will leave the reader with an important question to ponder, one that has echoed throughout history: Do you trust enough to be trusted?

Continue Reading

Leading

What Kind Of Leader Are You?

Your effectiveness in scaling your business starts with the kind of leader you are. Here’s how you can build yourself up into a leader others will follow.

Nicholas Haralambous

Published

on

business-leadership-advice

When you are in start-up mode it’s tough to take a step back and think about the kind of leader you are or want to be. Most of the time you’re fighting to keep your business alive, never mind think about how you lead.

This is especially challenging when it’s faster and more efficient to just step up and do things yourself. It’s easier for you to make the decisions, do the work, check the work, follow up on the work, etc. However, it’s this situation that prevents young companies from scaling to the next level.

Ask More Questions

I work really hard every day to be quieter. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail so dismally that I actually do more damage than good. You see, I like to talk. I like to hear other people talk and I like to bash around ideas until they become something bigger, something better and something that can move from idea into action.

Related: Your Leadership Journey Starts Now… And Go!

Coupled with liking to talk, I also like being right. Who doesn’t? Add onto these two things the fact that I like to read and research and then throw in a teeny bit of ego or pride and it’s a recipe for leadership disaster.

If I am the most well-read, loudest and most opinionated person in a meeting then all that happens is that I end up pitching an idea, getting everyone to agree with this idea and then assigning the work on the idea to become a reality. Basically, I am working with, for and amongst myself. It’s an echo chamber that leads to bad ideas surviving and an unhappy team leaving.

The Collective Is More Intelligent Than the Individual

As a leader and founder, you probably feel like you are the person with the best understanding of the problem you are trying to solve and the best person to solve the problem. This can lead to a dictatorial approach to leadership, team inclusion and problem solving. You have an idea, you tell your team and they do what you tell them.

If this is how you do it then I have to ask you a simple question: Why did you hire smart people? Just so you could tell them what to do? If that’s the case rather hire capable but cheap people, not the best.

Your best people are there to help you scale your business beyond your own thinking and time. There are a set amount of hours in the day. There are only so many emails you can answer in your day.

A good example in my business is customer support. We pride ourselves in our impeccable customer service online and offline. I can’t physically answer every question posed by customers but I can hire incredible colleagues, entrust them with my vision and views on our customers and then trust them to go out and use their good judgement.

Work With The Best

Here’s the kicker to being a good leader: You need to work with the best people.

This is not something I say as a passing statement. I want you to stop reading right now and think about the ten people you interact with at your company every day. Are they the best people you could be working with? If not, why not? How do you find the best people and bring them into your business? Go and do that.

Related: You’re The Boss, So Be The Boss

It’s important to work with the best for two very simple reasons.

Working with the best people pushes you to be better. If you are literally the smartest person in the room in every aspect of your business it means that you are surrounded by subpar players and you are not learning anything. The people around you are meant to educate you and push your business into places you didn’t even know were there.

Second, working with the best people attracts other incredible people. If you have a business full of average team members, can you guess what kind of people they pull towards your business? More average or less than average people. Why? Because average people don’t want to be surrounded by incredible people. If they are, they look worse and not better.

It’s incredibly difficult to be a good leader all of the time. In fact, it’s close to impossible. What you can do is try to be a leader who communicates, learns and grows with your team in an open manner.

Continue Reading

Trending

FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​