Wednesday, 10 October 2018

11 Entrepreneurs Share Their 'Secret Weapon' For Business Success

"What's the secret to your success?" It's one of the most commonly asked questions in the business world, and no matter who you ask, you're going to get a different answer. Some entrepreneurs say they rely on their industry knowledge or a technical skill set, while others credit their intuition or sense of humor.
We asked 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council about their own "secret weapons" as an entrepreneur. Whether it's a personality trait, a mindset, or a specific behavior, here's what these business leaders keep in their back pockets at all times, and how they've used it to succeed.
1. Intuition And People Skills
The best startups solve really big problems by developing a theory then executing on it based on intuition and available technology. If you believe this, then the most important thing you can do as a non-technical founder is to constantly develop a deep understanding towards the needs and habits of human beings (your users). Talk to people. Find out their underlying assumptions, how they think, and what they believe. Do this enough, and you’ll be able to offer the best insight toward what direction your product should go. - Raad AhmedLawTrades
2. Curiosity And Resilience
Before anything else, I ask why, how, or what. Read between the lines: A customer or employee might make a simple statement, but what is behind that statement? I experiment and ask, "What would happen if..." If it doesn't work, have the resilience to bounce back, ask more questions and try again. Trying again is key; I probably fail more than I succeed, but I learn from what didn't work and tweak it. - Alisha Navarro2 Hounds Design
3. Adapting To Change
I learned early on that it's not the smartest entrepreneurs who survive. It's also not the ones with the most money, fame or even the best teams. The entrepreneurs who make it are the ones who are able to adapt to the most unexpected, difficult and seemingly impossible changes that occur every day. Knowing how to keep going when we are in an unpredictable world, and working with other humans who can change in an instant based on the circumstances in their lives is the best skill to have. If you know how to shift in an instant and adjust your services, your thinking, and your team to keep up with technology, the market and more, you will always succeed. - Beth DoaneMain & Rose
4. Knowing Yourself
It's easy to forget about yourself when you're building a business, but the irony of that is that when you aren't at your best, neither is your work or the outcomes you generate. The more time I've spent getting away from work to learn and grow, to be silent in meditation, or to have fun, the clearer the pathways have been for me to hear when my gut says yes or no to something. It also makes me clearer on who the authentic version of me is, which better helps me to relate to my team, our customers and our partners, and ensure the choices we make are in alignment. - Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40
5. A Diverse Perspective
As a woman, I bring different qualities to the table as an entrepreneur. It's helped me in various situations to better understand through intuition and emotional connection. I have a diverse knowledge set having filled various types of roles in life that male entrepreneurs may not have, which I then put into the work environment. This gives me an advantage because I see issues and situations differently, often finding solutions or unique perspectives. - Cynthia JohnsonBell + Ivy

6. Taking Calculated Risks
I see a lot of time wasted trying to project for all possible negative outcomes. This is near impossible, and while it's useful and important when dealing with life-and-death situations, in most cases we’re not. At the end of the day, it’s about moving forward, making mistakes and correcting them quickly. The fear and inaction is what prohibits speedy progress and iterations that get you closer to your goals. If you’re in this fearful and anxious state, you’ll almost always be able to come up with a reason to not do the thing you might need to do the most. - Baruch LabunskiRank Secure
7. A Non-Entrepreneurial Background
My path to entrepreneurship was an accident. I’ve always been more of a people-person than a business person, and that has proved to be a secret weapon. Because it’s so easy to remove my entrepreneur persona, I find that I don’t fall into some traps that other business owners might fall into, such as over-engineering or excessive fixation on the bottom line. My strengths as a non-entrepreneur are collaborating with my team members, not assuming I have to have all of the answers, and not getting too deeply attached to particular paths or outcomes. - Peggy ShellCreative Alignments
8. A Constant Desire To Learn
I have made it a point to always be learning. It's scheduled on my calendar every day, and on Saturdays, it's the only thing on my to-do list. No matter how much you feel that you may know about leadership, business or anything else, the world is always changing, and there's always new research and ideas. To stay ahead, you have to constantly feed your mind. Reach out to mentors, ask for help, read books, listen to podcasts and always be ready to put the things you learn into action, even if it goes against something you thought you were doing right. Stay hungry and keep learning! - Adelaida Diaz-RoaNomo FOMO
9. Endurance Running 
As the owner of a few different businesses and someone who is naturally Type A and intense, I get stressed out quite easily and frequently. To have a clear head and maintain an even temper, I do 90-minute endurance runs two to three times per week. It's the best way that I blow off steam and keep stress at a manageable level. - Kristin MarquetCreative Development Agency, LLC
10. Being My Own Customer 
My "secret weapon" is being the customer of my own businesses. Since we use the various plugins that we build across all of our websites, we can start sensing what features would be good to build to differentiate us from the competition. This helps us stay ahead. We go an extra step and give all of our employees our plugins for free to implement on their personal blogs. We want them to love the products, understand them, and help come up with new, innovative ideas for improvement of the products. We then take some of those ideas and implement them as features into the products. - Syed BalkhiOptinMonster
11. Treating People Like Gold
Not enough people realize the importance of treating your staff as invaluable. If you felt replaceable, with no control over your next paycheck, would you come to work early with a smile on your face and do your best to perform? Hell no. You'd be looking for another job and trying to keep your head down. Treat your employees like they make you everything you are, because in reality, they do. An organization is judged by its weakest individuals, not its strongest. How many times have you called Comcast customer service and thought, "Brian Roberts seems like a really nice guy?" It doesn't happen. You blame the brand. I don't agree with Simon Sinek on much, but he fully understands the employee-employer relationship from the employee's perspective. Respect and love your team. - Ali MahvanSharebert
Source: Forbes

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Great Employees Want to Learn. Great Managers Know How to Teach.

“I’d like to work for a manager I can learn from.” This phrase has come up again and again in interviews I’ve conducted for my team at the World Economic Forum and from more junior folks who I’ve met through various mentoring programs. These people aren’t looking for someone to lecture them, they’re looking for someone who can help them build knowledge and skills as they work toward a valuable goal. As workers get more used to a fluid workplace, where longevity in one firm isn’t the goal and developing a portfolio of skills is more important, managers who can offer learning opportunities will be in high demand.
Having started my working life as a high school teacher, I’ve continued to find success when I use my teaching style to lead teams. Reflecting on how I’ve managed cases and projects, there are three traits which all good teachers share and managers in any field can learn: how to define and communicate goals, how to identify and build necessary skills, and how to create opportunities for growth. Put into practice, these attributes can help to create a positive environment filled with motivated and creative people, inside a school, a business, or any organization that relies on people to be creative and dedicated to shared goals.
Define goals and communicate them clearly
Every year, a teacher has to develop a plan for where the class will be at the end of the year with concrete steps for how to get there. The goal might be to improve reading levels by at least one grade or to show understanding of theorems in geometry. The same is true for any organization — you need to have clearly articulated goals that serve a greater mission. And just as it is not motivating in a classroom to say, “We need to read Animal Farm because it’s on the district’s curriculum,” it is not enough to say “We have to write a report on cybersecurity threats because the firm needs something to sell.” It’s far better to say, “We will accomplish this task together because it is an important factor in achieving our shared goals” (whether the goal is to become a better reader or to become a leading threat analysis company).
Good communication about goals goes both ways. Just as it’s the manager’s responsibility to communicate organizational goals clearly, it’s also the boss’s obligation to listen to employee’s personal goals and, where they align with the overall mission, support them and help build the skills necessary to achieve those shared goals.
Identify and build your team’s skills
The ability to understand and build skills is the core of effective teaching and a key management responsibility. A manager can’t lead a team if she doesn’t know what skills are needed to accomplish a goal and if she doesn’t know what the team is good at.
For a teacher, it’s standard to conduct formal assessments over the course of a year to gauge skills and measure growth. Very few organizations are going to sit all employees down for a formal skills assessment, but for adults, you just have to ask and observe. It is vital to discuss the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve success with your team and to understand, through discussion or through past experience what skills team members have and what skills they need to develop.
It’s also important, if employees are looking to build their own portfolio of skills, to ensure that they have opportunities to take on assignments that allow for that kind of growth as well. An effective manager should be able to ensure that employees enjoy a good mix of tasks they can succeed at using current skills and stretch assignments that represent opportunities for growth.
Create opportunities for growth
When an employee says she is looking for a manager she can learn from, the employee is implicitly saying that she values opportunities for growth. No one wants to feel stagnant or like they’re not achieving anything. Good teachers, and effective leaders, help those under them grow by giving effective constructive feedback and by fostering a growth mindset.
Thinking like a teacher is invaluable here as well. When a manager understands that she is helping to grow skills and achieve shared goals, rather than just assessing performance, it’s far easier to give useful and constructive feedback. Likewise, creating a work environment that promotes growth and a mindset for growth helps not only employees, but ensures that the team can make new connections and develop novel ideas.
Helping employees grow has an additional benefit to the manager who does it well — the opportunity for personal professional growth. One of the best career tips I’ve received was from Jim Snabe, the former CEO of SAP and current Chairman of Maersk. He said that, in every organization, his first task was to begin training his replacement, so that when the opportunity came for his next step, there’d always be someone ready to fill his role and continue the team’s success. The teacher-leader, by continually growing and teaching her own team, paves the way for her own success.

Source: HBR 26 Sep, 2018