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The 5 Habits Bad Founders Never Break

People who don’t understand the basics of how people get along will never lead a successful team.

John Rampton

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Young companies are only as good as the people who run them. For businesses with strong founders, that’s great news – for others, not so much.

A bad founder doesn’t have to remain bad forever, though. Many of the skills required to run a company only come through experience. Whether that experience goes to waste or helps a founder grow into a better leader depends on how the founder responds to negative situations.

Check out the following list of habits that bad founders never break:

1. They can’t get along with their co-founders

Professional disagreement can be constructive; toxicity never is. Khalid Halim, an entrepreneur and start-up coach, regularly deals with co-founder teams incapable of getting along. Halim believes that founders must be able to give each other constructive criticism.

“The relationship will break,” he said in a post for Medium. “They will be left wondering how you could sit there and watch them fail and not say anything. By being really nice, things go really, really wrong, and then we wonder what happened. That is what the absence of conflict looks like.”

Learn how to give (and receive) feedback without taking it personally. You and your co-founders all want the business to succeed.

Provide constructive criticism in positive contexts, and listen to feedback – not in how it reflects on you, but in your role at the company. Your founding team is full of people with diverse talents. The more you help each other grow, the better your chances of success.

Related: As An Entrepreneur, Be A Motivational Leader To Your Staff

2. They can’t pull the trigger

Some part of your product could always be better. Maybe it the design could be sleeker; maybe it has more bugs than you’d like. Maybe it isn’t even as effective as it could be. Whatever the reason, at some point, you must decide whether to kill the project or release it to the world.

Bad founders spend too much time waiting to launch. While they live in constant fear that their product isn’t good enough, other companies beat them to market. Eventually, their hesitation costs them, and their companies sputter out before they gain a foothold.

Never launch a product you know is going to fail – that leads to poor sales and a reputation hit – but do maintain a sense of urgency. If you know the product-market fit is good and you have the cash to make it happen, be aggressive in the development and deployment of your solution.

3. They don’t respect their employees

uber

Founders everywhere should take note of the problems at Uber and other start-up heavyweights. Harassment scandals and miserable cultures do not appear overnight. Rather, they arise as a natural consequence of environments in which people (especially at the top) do not know how to respect each other.

You don’t need stricter rules about eye contact to prevent lawsuits at your company. You simply need to set an example of respect in your behaviour – and to get rid of people who don’t understand what “respect” means.

Treat your employees as if they held your future in your hands – because they do. Communicate clearly that breaches of respect will not be tolerated, and follow through on that promise when someone refuses to play nice.

When your employees feel safe at work, they spend less time worrying about their personal space and more time pushing your company forward.

4. They forget the details

Not many founders have deep backgrounds in accounting, law, marketing, insurance and human resources. Bad founders try to do it all themselves, which inevitably leads to problems ranging from minor annoyances to company-ending disasters.

Don’t play loosely with your company’s finances or legal standing. Consult with people who know better, like accountants and lawyers, or hire people to handle those tasks for you.

Different industries have different requirements, so consult with your mentors and colleagues to see what kinds of protections you need to keep in place. Insurance can be especially tricky. Work with an insurance agent who knows your industry to get coverage for liability on your products and your premises alike.

Related: 4 Empowering Lessons From Great Leaders

5. They lack organisational skills

Some founders equate fast, rash decisions with innovation. Those founders rarely lead successful companies for long. When founders start to arrive late to meetings, miss important deadlines and forget important client calls, their companies suffer greatly for their inattention.

Stay organised by keeping and updating your calendar. Your brain can only focus on so much information at once: Externalise your schedule so you never have to worry about whether you have enough time. Make a habit of adding meetings, phone calls and task reviews to your calendar as soon as you commit to them.

If you’re the kind of person with a messy desk and a full voicemail, don’t despair. Organisation takes time to develop, and only you know what works best for your business. The important thing is to develop a system that works and stick to it.

No one, even an experienced entrepreneur, starts a company and gets everything right on the first try. The difference between people who succeed and people who don’t is that successful people learn from their mistakes and adapt.

Whether you’re a first-time founder or a serial entrepreneur, use these tips to keep improving and guide your company toward sustained success.

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

To Get A Job Or Not Get A Job. What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Remember the days where if you went to school and studied a degree, you got a job and built a career that enabled you to retire comfortably? I don’t, in fact I’m not sure those days ever really existed. If they did, they are long gone.

David Wilson

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Today STATS SA tells us only 1 in 3 of the youth in South Africa have a job, even worse still – 34% of graduates aged 15-24 are unemployed1. The bottom line is that there are not enough jobs to cater for every child that finishes school. Our children need to learn entrepreneurship. If we want a brighter future for them, we need to nurture, teach and develop the skills and behaviours required to create jobs of their own.

With no intention of knocking the school system it would seem for the most part it discourages entrepreneurial thinking on a fundamental level; it prepares students to become good employees. Tuck your shirt in, sit still, stand in line, do your homework, focus on the task, check this box, you get the picture. Three decades ago this may have worked but it won’t work when we are trying to teach our children to survive the forth industrial revolution and prepare for jobs that don’t yet exist!

It may sound like a cliché, but kids are our future. As a parent I believe one of the most important duties we have is to give our children the best possible start. We need to prepare them on how to live, survive and thrive in a world that is rapidly changing, mostly unpredictable and often unforgiving. This starts by identifying the skills and nurturing the behaviours that will give them the best chance for success.

Related: Watch List: 11 Teen Entrepreneurs Who Have Launched Successful Businesses

Teaching entrepreneurship prepares our children for the future

Entrepreneurship encompasses so much more than starting and running a business. It’s a shift in mindset, a different way of thinking. Entrepreneurship views problems as opportunities and fuels creativity in the pursuit of solutions. All these skills can be applied to life.

Successful entrepreneurs are resourceful, self-confident and tenacious. They are great communicators and marketers, good at identifying and understanding risk. They have learnt from failure and made mistakes. Entrepreneurs are financially literate, understand cash flow and how to manage money. Again, these are skills that every child and student can benefit from.

To make it in the workplace of the future you will need to be self-confident, innovative, creative, motivated and curious.

Employers will need to hire staff that have the creative ability to innovate and ensure the longevity of their organisations. Those people that show entrepreneurial flair will be in demand in a world that is ever and more rapidly changing.

Exposing our children to entrepreneurship, teaching them the fundamental skills and behaviours required to start a business, and letting them know it is a career choice should be a requirement in all schools and endorsed and supported by all parents.

References:

  1. Youth unemployment still high in Q1: 2018 http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=11129

Read next: Kid Entrepreneurs Who Have Already Built Successful Businesses (And How You Can Too)

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How To, In Practice, Distinguish Between Executive, Non-Executive And Independent Directors And Their Functions

Learn more about the differences in executive and non-executive directors.

RSM

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Definition of a director in terms of the Companies Act

Section 1 of the Companies Act 71 of 2008 (Companies Act) defines a Director as “a member of the board of a company, as contemplated in section 66, or an alternate director of a company and includes any person occupying the position of director or alternate director, by whatever name designated”.

Powers of directors

Section 66 of the Companies Act determines that the business and affairs of the company must be managed by or under the direction of its board and that the board has the authority to exercise all of the power and perform any of the functions of the company, except to the extent that the Companies Act or the Company’s Memorandum of Incorporation provides otherwise.

The board of directors, for the first time in our current Companies Act has been assigned the legal duty and responsibility and play a very important role in managing the affairs of the company and making vital decisions on behalf of the company.

Related: What You Need To Know Before Transitioning From Business Owner To Director

Number of directors required on a board

In the case of a private company, or a personal liability company, the board must consist of at least one director and the case of a public company, or non-profit company, the board must consist of at least three directors. A JSE listed company requires at least four directors. The company’s Memorandum of Incorporation may however specify a higher number, substituting the minimum number of directors required.

How to distinguish between executive, non-executive and independent directors and their functions

A clear distinction is noticeable between the different types of directors in practice, even though the Act does not distinguish between executive, non-executive and independent directors.

The below table gives a clear understanding of the differences between executive and non-executive directors:

Executive directors

Non-executive directors

Member of the board of directors with directors’ duties.

Part of the executive team, as an employee of the company and generally under a service contract with the company. Not an employee of the company.
Involved in the day-to-day management of the company. Not involved in the day-to-day management of the company.
In addition to a salary, does not receive directors’ fees. May receive Directors’ fees, but does not receive a salary.
Shareholders are not involved in approving their salary packages. Shareholders must approve their fees by way of special resolution, in advance.
Employee entitlements apply, such as annual and sick leave. No entitlements apply.
Has an intimate knowledge of the workings of the company. They contribute to the development of management strategies and monitor the activities of the executive directors.
They carry an added responsibility. Entrusted with ensuring that the information laid before the board by management is an accurate reflection of their understanding of the affairs of the company. Plays an important role in providing objective judgement, independent of management on issues the company are facing.

 

Independent, non-executive director

An independent, non-executive director does not have a relationship, directly or indirectly with the company other than his or her directorship. They should be free of any relationship that could materially interfere with the independence process of his or her judgement and they do not represent the shareholders of the company.

An independent, non-executive director should be evaluated on an annual basis to determine if they are still considered independent.

Related: The Role, Responsibilities and Liabilities Facing Non-Executive Directors

The role of these directors

All directors should apply objective judgment and an independent state of mind, regardless of the classification as an executive, non-executive or independent non-executive director.

Executive directors may be appointed as non-executive directors on other boards if this does not influence their current position and is in accordance with company policy.

Before a director accepts the appointment, they should be familiar with their duties and responsibilities and be provided with the necessary training and advice.

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Managing Your Priorities And Learning To Say No

How you use your time determines the degree of meaning or fulfillment you have and the money you make.

Dr John Demartini

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Getting more done is not about managing your time; it is about how you focus your attention and intention during the time you have. When you focus on scheduling your day to do high priority actions, they are more likely to get done.

Since you can have more than one kind of high priority action, it is wise to define them accordingly by further prioritising your high priorities. High priority items or actions can fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • Those needing to be strategically planned (working on the business)
  • Those needing to be done in relation to yourself
  • Those needing to be done in relation to your employees
  • Those needing to be done in relation to your clients, customers, patients…
  • Those needing to be done that are creative (new divisions, services, products, markets…)
  • Those needing to be delegated outside your company (outsourced)
  • Those needing to be delegated inside your company (insourced).

It is essential to master the art of saying no to anything less important.

When you are unclear about what your true highest priority or business mission is, distractions can take you ‘off track’ and consume your time, attention, energy, focus, power of concentration and productive capacity.

Related: How To Say No Nicely

Knowing what your highest priority business mission and primary objectives are prevents you from being as easily distracted by every so-called ‘opportunity’ that comes along. It allows you to be more discerning about the activities you choose to take on board and those you discard. Clarity of mission gives you the ability to ignore distractions, and that can be incredibly inspiring and empowering.

You cannot please everyone so don’t waste your time trying. Continually saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no will cost you greater opportunities and lead you to bite off more than you can chew. Your time is finite.

 

Block out all less important distractions. Give them up. Embrace your trade-off.

Try eliminating, or scaling back some of your activities to determine if reducing or eliminating them makes any real difference in your results. This also helps you determine which actions are truly the most productive priorities. Deliberately eliminate or at least reduce your trivial, unimportant, unnecessary and irrelevant actions. Your intentional limits can help you become more limitless.

Sticking to your own higher priorities each day raises your self-worth. Take command of your time before others do and tell them the truth, or they may possibly keep demanding from you. Your integrity and, at times tactful bluntness, will allow you to get your most important job done. Your true friends or colleagues will respect your time and your priorities.

Since your work will expand or contract to fill the time allotted (Parkinson’s law), if you don’t fill your space and time with high priorities they can become filled with low priorities. And, if you don’t consume your energy and material resources with high priorities uses they can become consumed by low priority ones. If you don’t intensify your day with inspired actions things can slow down. Your time x your intensity will determine your results.

Related: I Started Saying ‘No’ To These 6 Things. My Life And My Business Got A Lot Better

Many distractions that are being initiated by others are often opportunistic in nature. Many are simply others trying to sell you something – an idea, a viewpoint, an opinion, a friendship – in exchange for your valuable life and time. Simply being aware of what is being sold allows you to be more deliberate in deciding whether you want to buy or spend time on it.

Gracefully, respectfully and reasonably saying no, may temporarily disappoint the opportunist, but eventually it will lead them to respecting and appreciating you even more. It shows that you are a professional more than just an amateur and that you value yourself and your time more than their distractions. It is wiser to have a long-term gain in respect than a short-term popularity.

So ask yourself every morning what exactly is the highest priority action step I can take today to help me fulfill my most purposeful, meaningful, productive and profitable dream tomorrow.

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