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The Power of Requests and Questions: How Asking Makes You a Successful Entrepreneur

The Power of Requests and Questions: How Asking Makes You a Successful Entrepreneur

A key attribute of a successful entrepreneur is his ability to make a request or ask questions. Even though this may seem like an obvious distinction, many entrepreneurs underestimate the power of asking.

The consequences of not asking can affect the progress of your entrepreneurial venture. Many entrepreneurs are still stuck in this notion of trying to become successful without asking for help. Unfortunately for them, they will struggle to get out of square one.

Successful entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates all owe their fortunes to their ability of making requests and asking the right questions. They all know the power of asking has helped them achieved their goals; their accomplishment were not carried out by themselves alone.

The power of asking will serve you greatly on your path towards entrepreneurial success. If you need further convincing, here are seven benefits of making requests and asking questions.

1. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

No one will know what you want if you don’t ask. It is as simple as that.

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A major obstacle that many entrepreneurs face when they ask someone is the feeling of shyness and intimidation. You will be pleased to know that every successful entrepreneur was in the same boat before they made their first request.

A good way to overcome shyness or intimidation is to remember there is no harm in asking. The worst that can happen when you ask someone is that they will say “no.”

2. You save time.

You can save a lot of time by asking for help. Many successful entrepreneurs will agree with this benefit.

In 1969, a young Sir Richard Branson was arrested and spent a night in jail for smuggling a stack of vinyl records through British customs. He did this to avoid paying taxes. Fortunately for Sir Richard, the officials did not press any charges against him. In his autobiography, Branson wrote that after being released from jail, he learned a valuable lesson in asking people for help. If Branson had asked someone for advice on how to pay less taxes through a legal route, he would not have wasted so much time travelling and smuggling records into the country.

In order for you to save time, make a list of key tasks within your project that you are not fully comfortable in completing. It is important that you are honest with yourself when you make this list. Then ask the relevant people in your network on how to complete those tasks without wasting so much time.

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3. You get better at negotiating.

Not everyone is going to comply to your request, but the power of asking will help to improve your negotiations skills. You can improve your negotiation skills by adding a favor in return of your request. For example, if you are a website designer and you ask a caterer for their services at a discounted rate, you can add in a favor of developing their website at a discounted rate.

4. You build better professional relations.

It helps to understand both your colleagues and collaborative partners in the long-run. By establishing strong professional relations, your collaborative projects will be completed on time. You can build strong relations by asking your colleagues about their work habits and their strengths. Using this valuable information, you can develop a plan that can work around their unique traits.

5. You build strong customer relations.

An entrepreneur cannot succeed without his customers. Successful entrepreneurs know the true value of understanding their customers by simply asking them. Regularly interacting with your customers can reveal what is really in demand in your segment of the market. Thanks to social media, you can easily interact with your customers and retrieve feedback straight away.

6. Asking gives you a competitive edge over non-askers.

There is an old saying that many entrepreneurs still believe in and it goes:

“The world belongs to the takers.”

The above quote is far from the truth. The world of entrepreneurship and business really belongs to  “askers.”

A majority of entrepreneurs don’t take the time in making requests or asking questions. They settle for what is given to them. But you should use this to your advantage; entrepreneurs who are not afraid to ask will get what they want and they don’t settle for anything less. Be different; put yourself out there.

7. You get out of your comfort zone.

This is a big benefit. The power of asking can get you out of your comfort zone. It encourages you to interact with different people and helps you overcome any feeling of shyness/intimidation. The more people you interact with, the more requests you can make.

How to prepare yourself to make requests or ask questions.

The benefits written above show that entrepreneurs who ask around will progress much further on life. To help you start preparing your requests and questions, here are a few handy tips.

1. Know what you want.

This is key. If you don’t know what you want, then you will not know what to ask. It is as simple as that. To know what you want, get a pen and paper and write down your main entrepreneurial objectives. Then write a list of suitable questions and requests that will help you achieve your objective. Ensure your questions and requests are politely worded; a “please” and a “thank you” can go a long way.

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2. Find out who to ask and where to find them.

Only certain people will be able to comply to your request or question. If your request or question is about web design, then you need to ask a web developer/designer. A key tip to help you find the right person is knowing where they congregate. People who share a similar skill will congregate together often, usually at networking events or online forums. Do some research on these networking events and online forums, then take necessary action.

3. Go out and ask.

Mastering the power of asking takes trial and error. It is crucial to maintain a positive mindset when you start asking around. If you have experienced a string of rejections, use this an opportunity to review your questions/requests and see how they can be improved. Asking is a skill, it takes practice to master it.

Featured photo credit: Roo Reynolds via farm3.staticflickr.com

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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