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Leadership: Total Commitment To The Purpose Of The Business

Whichever level of commitment you choose to enact as a leader can distinguish you from others whether it be in a positive or negative way.

Dirk Coetsee

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“Leaders must pick causes that they will not abandon easily, remain committed despite setbacks, and communicate their big ideas over and over again in every encounter.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Absolute commitment

A very famous story related to the subject matter of commitment is that of the tennis star of the 80s’ and 90s’ Martina Navratilova. During an interview the multiple Wimbledon title holder was asked what she would accredit her great success as a tennis player to. Her answer was that her total commitment to tennis gave her the edge over most other competitors.

Not entirely clear on what Navratilova actually meant by her total commitment to tennis the interviewer asked her again to explain her narrative of commitment and to draw a distinction between the concepts of involvement and commitment.

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

She used having bacon and eggs for breakfast as a metaphor to describe her extreme level of commitment to tennis:

“When you have bacon and eggs, chickens were involved in producing eggs, but pigs were committed to the bacon”, she exclaimed.

Martina taught us by using this metaphor that there is a great margin of difference between being merely involved in a profession and being totally committed to it. Although this might be regarded as an extreme example, within the context of this writing it serves as a lesson to show that there are stages or levels, if you prefer, of commitment.

martina-navratilova-tennis

Levels of commitment to a cause (as a practical example, towards the purpose of a business):

Apathy

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Taking notice

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Involvement

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Commitment 

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Apathy: 

No leader can call him or herself a leader when they display apathy, meaning that they do not care at all about the business’ ultimate desired future state.

Taking notice:

This as an example might be able to intellectually understand the business’ purpose and be able to articulate it, but merely takes notice of it, doesn’t do anything about it, or really gets involved with making this vision a reality.

Often this low level of commitment is displayed within meetings where employees, partners or any stakeholders might nod their head in agreement to a statement that you have made as a leader but afterwards do not do anything about what you have said as they were merely taking notice of your words.

Involvement:

At this level there is proof of involvement in activities related to making the business’ desired future state a reality. This is only involvement and does not mean that the stakeholders’ heart mind and soul is totally behind the business’ vision and a persons’ limited effort is proof of that. The team members whose level of commitment is only at the level of involvement will likely waiver even when a minor setback is faced.

Commitment:

Total commitment to your business’ purpose means putting all your skill and maximum effort on the “altar of your purpose.” When you are totally committed your sincere effort will surpass most of your competitor’s levels of hard work or even all of them. This means to not be a “clock watcher”, it is the opposite of putting in the minimum effort required to get the minimum required amount of work done. It means to strain your potential to its absolute maximum in order to realise that there was always more within you than you could ever fathom. Despite even severe setbacks the truly committed leader or team will “stay the course”.

Related: How You Can Make Leadership Excellence An Effortless Effort

Commitment to your business vision and goals is therefore taking ownership of the vision and to fully identify with it. It means to filter your decision making as a leader through the vision that you hold up in front of you as a desired future state and to constantly not only enthusiastically communicate this vision to all stakeholders but also being a living example of commitment to daily actions to make this desired future state a reality.

As entrepreneurs and business owners we all seek positive growth and results without question. The question that might make a severe difference within your business is therefore not whether you seek growth or not as that has been implicitly answered from the start-up phase of your business.

The burning question however is: Are you committed enough to actualise your entrepreneurial vision despite several setbacks? 

Dirk Coetsee is a Business Leadership coach for start-ups and established entrepreneurs. He is also qualified Master Life coach and assists individuals to get “unstuck” in their lives and careers.You can contact Dirk at: dirk@dirkcoetseeglobal.com

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Leading

Here’s Why Every Entrepreneur Needs A Business Mentor

There’s no success to be found when you’re standing still or alone.

Tasmin Copley

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Some entrepreneurs may look at their success and think it insulting to consider talking to a business mentor. And others may look at their struggles and think it’s the only solution to getting the business back on its feet. Neither of these views are correct in terms of what a business mentor can do for a business.

What a business mentor is

Before we get into reasons why, we need to clearly define what a business mentor is and that should already start clearing up the reasons why you’d need one. A business mentor is a well-established person in an industry who offers to impart their knowledge and experience to lesser experienced entrepreneurs and employees.

One could consider business mentors as a more personal relationship than one would have with a business consultant, but just as beneficial (if not more). Business mentors are basically business consultants, except you don’t (always) have to pay for their advice and mentorship. It’s a mentorship relationship and partnership. So, regardless of who you are and how successful your company is, every entrepreneur needs a business mentor and here’s why.

Related: How can I find a mentor?

There will never be “nothing more to learn”

At no point in any person’s life will they be able to say “I know absolutely everything and there’s nothing more for me to learn”. It may feel that way, but sit down with a business mentor for five minutes and your mind will be swirling with questions. We learn something new every day and with the help of a business mentor, the “something new” will always be related to business and have the potential to lead to business success. Isn’t that something that every entrepreneur dreams of?

There will always be something for entrepreneurs in every industry to learn. Technology is forever developing and providing new innovative ways for industries to work and that’s something entrepreneurs need to stay on top of.

Every bit of experience is beneficial

Now, you may be wondering how a business mentor can help when the years of experience they offer is from a time period where technology wasn’t as great a factor as it is today. And the answer is consistency. While the face of the world changes, there are certain constructs that remain exactly the same and business mentors will be able to teach you about these fundamentals that consumers rely on and need in order to adapt to the changing world.

Every bit of experience that mentors offer their mentees is valuable and beneficial. Entrepreneurs are usually so caught up in the bigger picture that they forget about the smaller, background details that are, in fact, the cornerstones of that end goal. Mentors have been there, made those mistakes and are here to make sure you don’t go down the same paths that caused them business trouble.

So, while their information may seem “outdated”, basic principles never change and should not be overlooked.

Everyone needs a support system

Having the weight of the business rest on your shoulders can be a mentally and emotionally draining responsibility. Entrepreneurs don’t only look to business mentors for advice but for support as well.

Everyone needs a support system and, in business, this means having a mentor. Someone who can back up the difficult business decisions you make and who can listen to the inevitable ranting sessions that follow a rough day in the office. They’re also someone to let you know that you’re doing a better job than you give yourself credit for and someone who can talk some sense into you when you go off the rails a little bit (this happens to all entrepreneurs, don’t worry).

Related: How do I go about choosing a a mentor and where can I find contact details?

It opens doors to networking opportunities

Generally, business mentors have been in the game for years. And over all those years they have met with some of the most influential people in the industry and business world. Every entrepreneur needs a business mentor even if it’s only for the networking opportunities that come with the relationship.

Business success, these days, is highly influenced by who you know and the importance of networking is not something that entrepreneurs can dismiss. Your business mentor will be able to introduce you to the biggest names in the industry and get you into networking events where you will have the opportunity to meet new people who can help you on the path of innovation.

You need someone to challenge you

Speaking of innovation, another reason why you need a business mentor is so that you have someone who is knowledgeable about the industry to challenge you. Through challenges, you’ll be forced to think about business in a new way and create innovative ways of dealing with standard business issues.

The problem many successful entrepreneurs have is that they tend to stick with what works and choose not to push any boundaries for fear of failure. That type of thinking will only get you so far in the business world and then your competitors will be overtaking you. Any business mentor will be able to explain to you why failure isn’t always a bad thing and that by challenging yourself and innovating, you’re growing. There’s no success to be found when you’re standing still.

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Leading

MAD Leadership Skills: Our Perspectives

Let’s have a look at some aspects around reasons for starting a business, the challenges faced and critical lessons learned.

Spencer Horne and Tshinondiwa Thovhakale

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Some entrepreneurial skills can be taught while others need to be experienced. It is possible to gain skills while working for someone else, but there are perspectives that you can miss if you have not started your own initiative. Let’s have a look at some aspects around reasons for starting a business, the challenges faced and critical lessons learned.

The people who contributed to this content are from different fields of life, in various industries, with a variety of unique goals and ambitions.

Why Start an Entrepreneurial Initiative?

Some people start ventures because they have a good idea, some want to make a difference, and some are lucky enough to have witnessed a family member beginning a legacy. Three themes have been highlighted by our contributors this week:

Entrepreneurship is About Building Your Own or Expanding upon a Family

Member’s Legacy 

Tshinondiwa Thovhakale has started a transport company and has done this because of the memories she shares below: “Growing up I had a good relationship with my dad. I have some of the best memories of him. He owned his own taxi business and drove one of them. He would come to school and fetch me, and before dropping me home, we would go to the taxi rank, take people, and I’d sit in front next to him and count money for him. Then do the normal rounds of dropping people at their destinations, and then he’d take me home and go back to work. I think all that grew on me. When he stopped and made other deals with his taxis, I felt it was our legacy, and I couldn’t let it die like that.”

Related: The Kindling Of The Entrepreneur Spirit

Entrepreneurship is About Following Your Passion:

Spencer Horne stated:

“I wanted to work directly on the needs and problems that are my passion. The independence of starting a business and choosing exactly what to work on has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work. “

Entrepreneurship is About Making a Difference:

Many entrepreneurs start a venture because of a need that they would like to fulfil in the market. Some love the idea of feeling good by doing good and making a living out of it.

Things to Think About

Five challenges identified this week are:

  • Networking is essential: People don’t always seek new businesses to uplift, the help their associates, leverage this to your benefit and establish a network of influencers, support, and contacts in the industry.
  • Getting and keeping talent is a task: Especially initially when resources are limited, and you have a lot to do and achieve to grow your business, and cannot do it all alone.
  • You may encounter cultural/societal biases –  learn to use it to your advantage and set a precedent in the industry of what you can achieve: For example, being a female in transport, people may undermine you if they see the industry as a “man’s world” – show them why they’re wrong.
  • You need to make your opportunities when starting a business: There are fewer opportunities when on your own, and you need to build a relationship base to spread your reach. Tenders are often given to the same people and fundraising is one of the most time-consuming aspects of starting or scaling a business. It’s not something that is always enjoyed, and unfortunately, it must take priority over all else until it is achieved.
  • Persistence and flexibility should be balanced: Ironically one needs both an unfaltering belief in what you are doing and the flexibility to pivot out in response to the market. This is one of the most significant and most difficult responsibilities of a business leader.

Lessons Learnt

You need to make your own path

There is no blueprint. Your particular path to building your business will be different to that of others. At times you may learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs, but be careful of comparisons. Be prepared for the detours and bumps along the road and be sure to take the time to enjoy the journey.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

The importance of being patient

Patience is vital. Always have back up plans. It is best to venture into a business that you’re passionate about, because it’s the love for the business that will whisper the words “try again, just one more time” every time a challenge comes your way.

The importance of noticing the small wins

Entrepreneurship is a journey and in many cases, a challenging one. With this in mind, it is easy to get frustrated, lose patience and give up. At points, you may feel like no progress has been made. This is when people should remind themselves of the journey that they’ve already walked. It’s important to celebrate the small successes so that we stay positive and forge ahead.

Bringing it All Together

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but it is needed. It makes many people happy and helps create jobs and uplift communities. People start initiatives for different reasons, and we all experience challenges. It is through these challenges that we learn and grow.

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The 3 Dumbest Business Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make Most Often

Don’t be superficial. Don’t chase too many opportunities. And do sweat the small stuff.

Dillon Kivo

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Most new entrepreneurs make terrible, dumb mistakes that crash their businesses before they can even get started. They make these grave mistakes not because they are unintelligent, have low IQs or possess little experience.

New entrepreneurs allow these blunders because they don’t see them as issues. Thus, they fail to invest their resources into fixing the problems until the problems bulldoze their companies.

In this article, I will give you the top three dumb mistakes new entrepreneurs make, and I will offer a lasting solution to each oversight.

1. Superficiality

We live in a world of superficiality – shallowness, no attention to detail, not focusing on satisfying our customers.

In a world of 140 characters, many of us build products fast and hope for quick cash. The focus is more on “build and sell fast” than on quality and originality. Many entrepreneurs, especially the newbies, fall into this superficiality trap.

These would be entrepreneurs refuse to sharpen their skills, ship broken products and provide terrible customer experience. That’s why many startups don’t see the light of day.

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

What’s the solution?

  • Customer obsession. Your startup exists to serve your customers. Be obsessed with always pleasing them with your product.
  • Obsessive attention to detail. Before you build or ship any product, check every tiny detail with care. Don’t settle. Don’t let your team rest until you have completed the project to above-standard quality.
  • Constant learning. Knowledge is the antidote of superficiality. Keep learning, so you can satisfy your customers with unstoppable value and become the go-to person in your industry.

In the end, dumping the superficiality habit requires a change in mindset. You can get rid of it with constant practice and obsession with quality. That means focusing on getting good at one thing, before moving on to something else.

Let’s talk about that next.

2. Chasing two rabbits at a time

Amateur founders are quick to craft multiple ideas, bloating their online stores with a vast array of products and constantly re-writing their missions to accommodate their offerings. But is that the brilliant idea they think it is? No, it’s not.

A friend of mine who is a freelance web designer recently told me that he had added copy-writing on top of his web design services. “I want to increase my income, you know,” he excitedly told me.

I told him not to do that. I told him to focus instead on his design services so that he would become known as an expert in that category.

Related: Derek Thomas from Letsema Holdings on Learning from your Mistakes

But he didn’t take my advice. The last time I checked, he had quit his freelancing career altogether.

Obviously, he was frustrated because he was chasing more than one rabbit at a time. As Confucius beautifully said, “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Don’t offer two services or products at a time.

What you need as a new entrepreneur is credibility, not money. And the only way to establish yourself as credible is to focus on refining and improving your skill set, your product and your offering. Only then can your customers regard you as the best provider of a particular product or service.

3. Ignoring “minor issues.”

For new entrepreneurs, a comma splice in their home page copy is not something to worry about. “It’s just a minor issue,” they say. A broken link in their Facebook page is no big deal. “It’s just a minor thing,” they say. One negative customer review? Well, that’s just a “hot-tempered customer,” they say. “It’s just a minor thing.”

But is it? The reality is, these are not minor issues. These are big issues. Remember, all problems start small before they gradually metamorphose into big, uncontrollable setbacks.

That’s how Friendster crashed. It was the hottest social networking company in 2003, which Google wanted to buy for $30 million. But it lost momentum by 2006 due to minor technical glitches, paving the way for Facebook to take over.

Related: 6 Common Mistakes First-Time Business Owners Should Avoid

That little comma splice on your homepage can lead to a tsunami of credibility issues. An error in spelling will then portray your brand as another fake company in the marketplace. Protect your brand. Don’t leave any tiny issue unresolved. Fix it – fast.

Conclusion

When starting up as a new entrepreneur, the first thing to do is avoid making constant business blunders, no matter how insignificant they seem.

Don’t be superficial in responding to your customers’ inquiries. Take your time to provide them with in-depth answers to their questions.

Don’t chase too many opportunities, lest you fall into bloat and overload. Instead, focus on providing one product, and ensure that it stands out from the crowd.

Don’t ignore the small issues. They’ll grow into bigger problems. Nip them in the bud before they destroy your company.

Everyone makes mistakes, even veteran entrepreneurs, but learning how to fix these three big blunders will save your little startup from crashing early.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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