Starting a business is hard work, even more so when you are doing it for the first time. Serial entrepreneurs have the benefit of the cumulative experience from their previous businesses to fall back on, but for the green-horn entrepreneurs, the experience of building the first business might feel like a fish trying to walk on land.
There are certain core leadership qualities that can make the journey easier for a newbie.
Running a business is really about making decisions about what to do, when to do it, for whom, when, where, and how it should be done. If as an individual, you are indecisive, you will have more challenges as a first-time founder. You must be able to think on your feet and make decisions on the spot after all making all considerations. If you are a person who likes to think, rethink, and overthink before making a decision, you might miss out on a lot of opportunities.
This does not mean you should jump in on every new wave or make decisions rashly without duly considering all the risks involved. It means you should be able to decide within a short time, whether you want to do something or not, rather than putting off the actual decision for fear that you could be wrong.
Decision-making can be difficult when you begin to consider who ends up with the short end of the stick, but they should be done anyway. Delay can be very dangerous when it comes to making decisions in business.
As an entrepreneur, you will have many things on your plate every single time. You should be good at managing resources, people, time, customers, and crises. In fact, crisis management and people management are two critical skills you will require as a founder. If you are poor with managing people or managing tricky situations, you may slip. Luckily, both skills can be learnt.
Empathy is about bringing your human side into conversations and interactions with people in different capacities. People should know that they are interacting with a fellow human being and not just some robot, or some tyrant leader who wants his business to be successful irrespective of who gets to bleed for it.
Take time to have regular one-on-one conversations with your team members, and encourage them to share their personal wins and losses with the team. Try to not be judgemental. The purpose of communication between you and others does not have to be about agreeing or disagreeing, but about understanding and empathizing.
People generally respond better to you if they know that you will empathize with them and not judge their past mistakes and wrong decisions. No one wants to feel misunderstood or disregarded, and the personal support or help you give to your team members will engender loyalty.
The more common mistake one often sees is a leader who thinks he needs empathy to deal with his customers, but not employees.
Most problems a brand will face come down to communication. As a first-time entrepreneur, try to build the foundation for honest communication within your team and with your customers. When someone starts to work for you, they are also making a conscious decision to trust you, to invest their time in bringing your vision to life. The same thing applies to your clients and customers. They choose to use your product or solution because they trust you and what you represent. If at any point, you are perceived to be dishonest, you lose part of that trust, and once you lose a little trust, the rest of it is worth nothing.
There is a lot of competition and uncertainty in business. You should be 100% honest and open with your people. Don’t leave them guessing what is going on, or they may imagine the worst. A key part of honest communication is feedback. Regularly give and ask for honest feedback from your employees and customers. Once honest communication becomes a standard in the company, the rest will fall in place.
Accountability and responsibility
You don’t want to be that leader who tries to shift blame to every other person and give excuses for everything under the sun. If you do, you will unconsciously breed the same trait in your employees and team members. Good leaders don’t complain. They don’t find excuses. They certainly don’t try and blame things on other people. They identify what they have done wrong, and come out clean to admit, then try to fix it. If you do not show accountability for your actions, or you are quick to shift blame, you will build resentment among your staffs. Eventually, they will also toe the same lines with you.
Going fishing with a net does not mean you would catch all the fishes in one pull. It only means you are better equipped than if you had gone with a hook and line. These qualities make you better equipped to deal with the challenges of entrepreneurship.