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6 Steps To True Entrepreneur Success

6 Steps To True Entrepreneur Success

I’ve been self-employed my whole working life. It suits me. I’m not afraid of hard work and I quite like money. But my career has been a game of two halves. The first half was played at a furious pace, as befits a young man with big ideas. It was fun, I made a lot of money, but it didn’t end well.

The second half has been more measured, it’s still fun and…so far, so good. The big difference is that I’m personally in a much better place now. I’m happier, more at peace with myself and more fulfilled. And much, much less stressed.

So what’s changed? Well, change was forced on me. I took a hammering on a deal and I lost everything. Home, business, confidence – the lot. And I realized that what had gone wrong wasn’t an arbitrary decision here or a bad break there, it was much more fundamental.

However you choose to define “success” the essential foundation is mindset. Mine wasn’t just wrong, I hadn’t taken the time or the trouble to get it right in the first place. Big mistake. To borrow a phrase from Benjamin Netanyahu, I was trying to build a pyramid from the top down.

Working on my mindset – my attitude and approach – has brought me renewed success. A more sustainable, empowering, holistic success. As I see it, the blueprint has 6 essential steps:

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1. Understand That Your Life Won’t Change Itself

When your life isn’t what you want it to be it’s hard to hide that fact from yourself. Put another way, if you wonder whether there’s something better out there, that’s a sign that there’s something amiss in your life as it is. A better life requires change, and that change can only be made by you. Insanity, according to Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

2. Resolve to Act

Knowing you need to change is the easy bit. Making the change is the bit that takes courage. Just remember that you’ve brought yourself to this point. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t know that you want, or need, to change. Anger, or frustration, at the course of your life is simply evidence of your failure to resolve this conflict. Shakespeare knew this as long ago as 1604. In Measure for Measure he has Lucio tell us:

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt”.

So resolve it. The biggest regrets you’ll ever have are the things you didn’t do, not the things you did.

3. Believe in Yourself

When I crashed and burned I lost the material things in my life. But I didn’t lose my skills, or my work ethic. And although my confidence took a knock I remembered Kipling:

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“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.”

More recently, Arianna Huffington (of Huffington Post fame) understood the true nature of setbacks:

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”

Self belief, whether you’re starting from scratch or starting again, is an essential, indispensable element of a successful mindset. It’s a characteristic found in all successful entrepreneurs. If it doesn’t come naturally (and it often doesn’t) it can be developed just by changing the way you think.

That process can be learned – there’s a host of excellent material available online – as can the other things you need to know but currently don’t.  Self development is possible for, and available to, anyone who wants it.

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4. Understand That It’s Not Just About The Money

We all need money. Most, if not all, of us like money. It’s why we go to work, after all. It allows us to do the things we want to do, as well as the things we have to do. Whether we define happiness as simply freedom from worry or something more exotic or expressive, in our pursuit of that happiness money is pretty essential. But it isn’t everything. It really isn’t.

In my “first half” career I measured success only in terms of profit. I don’t mind telling you I made a lot of it. I was doing seven figure deals as a matter of course, I changed my car every four months, I travelled by helicopter and I reckoned, at the time, that I was doing well. Was I happy?  Er, No… Believe me, the novelty of these things wears off pretty quickly but in the meantime I had no freedom and no time for me or for those close to me.

I was the classic victim of my own success. I’d created a monster and it got to the stage where the monster was controlling me and not the other way round. And then it bit me, hard. I’m older and wiser now. I recognize that happiness – sustainable, proper happiness – is an alloy of different elements.

Time is a finite resource and it has to be allocated between those elements, of which work is only one. The others, for me, are family, education and entertainment. Yours may be different but the principle applies to all. When the balance is right, even work is a pleasure. And your life, as a whole, is happy and fulfilled.

5. Be in a Relationship With Your Business

Like any meaningful human relationship, your relationship with your business requires constant attention. Relationships don’t just happen, they have to be built and developed. Even the strongest, longest marriages take effort, every day. Dedicate the time and care your business needs and the rewards will follow.

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Particularly at the start, those needs will be substantial. Building momentum in a new-start business is labour intensive and will encroach on the other elements of your personal happiness, for a time. But remember that the effort you put in at the start is an investment not only in your business but in your future life.

And when you’ve built that momentum and all is running smoothly, don’t get complacent. Constantly assess, and re-assess, the needs of your business on an ongoing basis. At the same time, assess and recognize your own needs in the context of your work/life balance.

This is particularly important if you work from home. Fail to do this and everything, not just your business, will suffer. I speak from experience. More than this, assess your business in the context of your motivations, your goals and your ambitions. If they are no longer compatible, go back to #1…

6. Take, And Enjoy, The Rewards

Enjoy your success. Reward yourself. Take holidays and enjoy all your free time. Personal enjoyment is the fuel for motivation and sustains the essential dynamic of your relationship with your business. Fall out of love and divorce beckons.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. – Albert Schweitzer

Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 67.media.tumblr.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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