Many entrepreneurs suffer from ‘Entrepreneur’s Disease’ or ‘Founder’s Disease’, the inability to let go any aspect of your business, for fear of losing control.
The disease manifests itself uniquely in each individual; some might display more of one characteristic and less of another. The problem is nearly always fatal. It may take one year; it may take twenty years: eventually it will take its toll and claim the life of your organisation.
It’s heart-breaking to think that the person who loves the company the most is the one who is most likely to kill it. As an entrepreneur myself, I am very aware of my own tendencies to display these characteristics, and, like a member of AA, there’s nothing wrong with falling off the wagon once in a while, as long as you keep working your steps and get back on top of the beast that is trying to ruin your company.
The beast that lies deep within you.
The reasons we display these characteristics are different for each person, but mostly can be put down to a combination of insecurity and pride. Some business owners might justify this by saying that it’s the early stages of their business and it’s imperative for them to stay on top of every aspect of the new venture, but the truth is that this disease is not your friend.
Those characteristics you pride yourself in are the bane of your business, and are to blame for the trouble you keep getting into.
Some of the symptoms of someone suffering from Entrepreneur’s Disease are:
Patient won’t take advice from anyone.
Patient knows everything.
Patient always has a reason why the advice is invalid and should be ignored.
- I’ll do it myself:
Patient works themself to death.
Patient refuses to delegate.
Patient doesn’t take holidays.
- I know best:
Patient hires ‘yes men’ that won’t question them
Patient hires staff that are inexperienced
Patient has all the answers to every question
- Can’t say no:
Patient has too many great ideas and can’t say no to any of them
Patient can’t prioritise so the team run around trying to do everything at once
- I’m never wrong:
Patient refuses to admit they might be wrong.
Patient is reading this right now and thinks, ‘Luckily this doesn’t apply to me’
There’s no cure for Founder’s Disease, but there are things you can do to manage it. Just remember it’s going to take a lot of commitment to manage these weaknesses that are undermining your success.
Patient needs to say ‘I have the best team out there, I can’t do it without them’ at least three times a day.
A study was done years ago by Harvard Business Review on the oldest and most successful companies in the USA, and the character trait they found most prevalent in the CEOs of each company was humility. CEOs said that it was their amazing team, management and staff that led to the success of the company and took no credit for themselves.
- Let your staff fail:
Patient needs to say ‘Why don’t you give it a bash, shout if you get stuck’
Your staff will learn through their mistakes, they will also feel a sense of ownership and responsibility that comes from being trusted.
Patient needs to say ‘Maybe this strategy isn’t working for me anymore, maybe I need to change something in my life to see a different result this time’
Are the same issues coming up in your business time and again? Maybe life is trying to tell you something? Maybe it’s not everyone else: maybe it’s you.
- Ask for help by Delegating or Outsourcing:
Patient needs to say ‘I’m not sure, what do you think?’ at least three times a day, and not to the mirror!
It’s impossible for one person to have all the skills and abilities required to run a business on their own. Inevitably, you will neglect one or more areas that you have no prior experience or affinity with.
Making your money work for you
One of the areas I’ve seen many entrepreneurs battle with is marketing and sales. Most business owners are experts in their line of work, whether it is machinery or human behaviour, they know who their customers are and what they need.
The challenge they face is how to find more customers and how to reach them cost effectively.
This isn’t the 80s, a time when budgets were unlimited and champagne flowed. These days businesses have to turn every marketing cent over twenty times before committing it, and then they can only afford to spend on channels that show a definite return on investment.
Outsourcing your sales and marketing might seem far-fetched, but many successful entrepreneurs and established businesses are doing just that. By bringing in a team of highly trained professionals, the business owners can focus on what they’re good at (which is running their businesses) while the marketing team can focus on what they’re good at (which is bringing new business).
Digital channels can be very effective ways of reaching new customers without breaking the bank, and the nice thing about online, is that everything is measurable, so you know just what your marketing money is doing for you.
Outsourcing sales is also fairly new to most entrepreneurs, but has provided excellent results for those business owners who admit they don’t like selling, and who happily engage with a company to find leads, qualify them, meet them and close the sale on their behalf.
Doing everything yourself is so ‘nineties’. These days entrepreneurs are asking for help, from outsourcing their HR to outsourcing their accounting, and now marketing and sales.
There’s no shame in standing on the shoulders of giants. Focus on what you’re good at and let the experts support you in growing your business.
The 5 Gut-Check Questions Confronting Entrepreneurs Every Day
The day you forget why you began is the day you’re done.
Entrepreneurs make an astounding number of decisions daily. They are faced with choosing which opportunities to move on and must solve problems big and small.
By setting up a framework of questions to ask yourself daily, you’ll give yourself some markers to help guide you through these difficult situations. Knowing where you stand on these questions will empower you to make good choices that ultimately lead you to your desired outcome. It will give you a deeper understanding of your motivations and your feelings about your business, and can help you clarify future plans.
Here are five powerful questions all entrepreneurs should ask themselves daily to ensure they are consistently moving toward their goals and making the best decisions for themselves and their business. Ask yourself these questions with an honest and open mind, and see where they take you.
1. Why are you doing this?
What makes this one little question so powerful is that it forces you to examine your desires and impulses, and helps you chart how those motivations change over time. It forces you to look at things from a different perspective. Asking yourself this question every day reaffirms your ambitions and the mindset behind why you are doing what you’re doing. If you don’t know why, you’re in trouble!
Asking this question opens the door to a plethora of other questions that will give you food for thought. What is the reason for launching your business? Why are you passionate about doing this? Are you the right person to run this business? These answers may change over time. At first it may seem difficult to truly nail down the “why” behind your motivations. Maybe there are competing interests that are driving you. But when you really think about it and drill down into this question, there’s probably a simple answer. Just be sure you’re being truthful with yourself.
Why you do something also gives rise to the question: what do you hope to achieve? You need to know what your end game looks like, and what success means to you. Is it about attaining a certain level of wealth? Is it about being the top in your market? Is it about earning respect? Are you looking to rule the world (or at least a niche market), or are you simply hoping to earn a living doing something you love?
Start your day by asking yourself this question and see where your answer takes you. By spending a few minutes pondering this, you’ll gain clarity that will help you steer your career in the direction you want it to go.
2. What is your company’s purpose?
See if you can answer this question in a single sentence. A good place to start is with your mission statement: what are the formal aims, goals and values of your company or organisation? This should be clear and concise – it should get to the heart of what your business is about.
Your company’s purpose is the foundation that all else is built on. It should have enough flexibility to grow and allow for change, but be specific enough to be meaningful and relevant. Ultimately, this question should help you understand what the heck you’re really doing here.
This question should be at the forefront of your mind when making important decisions. Ask yourself whether this new venture or idea would reinforce or logically contribute to your company’s overall purpose. Are you staying true to your calling?
That’s not to say that your purpose can’t change over time. However, if it does, the change should be purposeful and executed with care. Thinking about this will help you identify your long-term business goals and may lead to bigger questions, such as: What do you want your company to mean to your customers, what is your company’s place in world and what is its ideal market?
3. Where is your business at right now?
The goal with this question is to take both an analytical and emotional assessment of your business. This is a chance for you to take a hard look at where your company sits. Is it on the right track? What seems amiss? What is going right and how can that be reproduced throughout your business?
It’s also important to acknowledge your emotions and to be mindful of how you are feeling about your business. What is your gut instinct saying? Are you feeling anxious or excited about the business? Whether you are having negative emotions or positive ones, it’s important to recognise what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way.
This will give you a chance to better understand your mental state and how that may be influencing your decision making. It’s also about understanding what kind of vibe you are putting out. Are you feeling clear-minded and balanced? Or are you feeling off-kilter and out of sorts?
Being in tune with your emotions and having a clear view of what’s going on with your business will ensure you’re on an even keel. It will help you avoid overreacting or under-reacting to situations.
4. What lessons are you learning?
Every entrepreneur faces an uphill battle to achieve success. Every day you should be learning and growing, and the best way to do this is through a great deal of reflection on the lessons that present themselves each day.
Ask yourself whether you’re learning from your mistakes. Failure is a part of every entrepreneur’s journey. The question is, will your mistakes allow you to learn and grow? If not, you’re liable to fall into the same pitfalls and missteps. Conversely, are you learning when to jump at an opportunity and when to let it go? This is the ultimate lesson every entrepreneur is trying to learn, and it’s never an easy one.
The next time you’re weighing whether or not to take a risk, try asking yourself: “When I’m 80, will I feel sorry if I hadn’t gone for it?” Jeff Bezos does this as a way to crystallise whether he will regret not taking action on something. In the big picture, it’s often what we fail to do that we see as our biggest mistakes in life.
5. What’s next?
If you ask yourself one question every day, this should be it. As an entrepreneur, you always need to be anticipating what’s next. You need to anticipate what’s coming down the road and formulate a plan to take it on. This is the question that forces you to look up from that pile of work on your desk and think about the big picture and next steps for your business.
What strategies will you need as you keep pushing your business into the future? What trends or shifting interests are coming up that may affect your business? How will new technology impact the way you manage the company?
Disruption will happen in every market because change is inevitable. Businesses that survive see that wave coming and start making adjustments early on. So, in a way, change is predictable because it will always come. Innovation and ingenuity will always be the key to success – and those who seize opportunity will ride the crest of the next wave.
So when you ask yourself “What’s next?” make sure you have your blinders off and are looking at things with a curious and open mind. Make sure you’re staying open to new ideas and embracing creative solutions. Keeping looking for the “wow” factor.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba To Stir You Into Action On Mandela Day
In honour of Mandela Day, here are 5 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspiring quotes.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior
If the harshest thing you have to say about someone is partly true, say the other part.
Did you know that in every language, there are more negative words than positive ones? It seems we need lots of words to describe our negative feelings, but we’re content with a handful of positive ones.
For instance, researchers have found that most cultures have words for seven basic emotions: Joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt.
That’s one positive emotion, and six negative
It’s no wonder so many of us have a hard time keeping our negative comments in check. Over the past six months I’ve been working on the verbal language that I’ve been using that I don’t even realize hurts others and in some cases makes them feel inferior. I even noticed that I’ve used a couple on my personal and business website. This is a “no-no” that I needed to fix.
This post will list 25 negative words you should avoid…so that you stop hurting, belittling and intimidating those around you!
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