New business owners have a steep learning curve as they try to make their mark. Thankfully, you don’t have to create your own long list of failures to uncover the wrong ways of doing things! Many entrepreneurs have already taken care of this before you and, when you apply their wisdom to your own entrepreneurial path, you can shorten the learning curve and come out ahead that much quicker. Below, we’ll cover six leadership secrets of people who have consistently come out on top for you to draw from when you need a new source of inspiration or are trying to build business strategies that really work.
1. Innovation Keeps Businesses Alive
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” –Thomas Edison
When we think of Thomas Edison, we typically consider his best innovative ideas and many contributions to modern life, such as the incandescent light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera. What doesn’t get nearly as much press is how many times he didn’t hit the mark while working on his inventions and improvements. Thankfully, he saw these mishaps as a bit of a blessing rather than a failure and used what he learned to continue developing his ideas and eventually coming up with the perfect solution.
When you apply the spirit of innovation to your own company, think beyond new business trends and products. Consider ways to keep your team motivated, such as sponsor or mentorship programs as well as alternate paths up the company ladder, college courses employees can take that will benefit you both, and other things that might create a dream work environment. If you’re struggling for inspiration, check out publications like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Inc., or see what other business leaders are saying on social media.
2. Communication is Everything
“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” –Lee Iacocca
Perhaps best-known for innovative ideas like the Mustang, Lee Iacocca was a major driving force behind the success of Ford Motor Company for more than three decades. Ultimately pushed out by Henry Ford II for being too bold, Iacocca no doubt understood the importance of effective communication all too well.
Iacocca didn’t flounder, though. Instead, he was immediately picked up by Chrysler. Though the company reported a $159 million quarterly loss the day his CEO appointment was announced, it made a cool $723 million the year he left.
“Listening can make the difference between a mediocre organization and a great one,” Iacocca said. He didn’t simply share his ideas with others. He attributed his success to open communication with employees and customers alike.
3. Ask for Advice
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” –Elon Musk
Elon Musk may come across as a confident take-no-prisoners entrepreneur, but he’s well known for soliciting the advice of those around him. “Don’t tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t like,” he’s said. It’s perhaps because of this trait that he’s become known as one of the biggest innovators of our time.
The culture around him may not have always been this way. Prior to a 2016 SpaceX launch, Musk reportedly asked for the top ten risks of the mission. It was the 11th on the list that led to a fiery end to the launch. “If people are going to be afraid, I’d rather they’re afraid of what will happen if they stay silent than being afraid of what will happen if they speak up,” he said. “We’re not going to have a culture where the messenger gets shot. We’re going to celebrate the person who called a potential threat or risk to our attention.”
Since then, Musk has made it part of his company’s long-term goals to foster open dialogue at every level. To help your company build bonds or friendships that encourage free sharing, consider teamwork activities in place of team meetings from time to time. As people get to know one another better, more sharing and challenging of ideas tends to occur organically.
4. Have a Vision
“Build the castle first.” –Walt Disney
Walt Disney was turned down by 300 bankers and financers when planning Disney World, according to Forbes. They didn’t think he had an idea that would pay off or a sustainable business model. But, Disney had a grand vision of what he wanted to achieve, and he stuck with it despite the naysayers. When he finally got to start bringing his idea to life with his own cash reserves, Disney reportedly told his crew to build the castle first. He believed that by starting there, others would see the big picture and start to share in his vision too.
This wasn’t the first or the last time Disney applied this tactic, either. When he was afraid he wouldn’t get buy-in for Snow White, the animator literally acted out every scene and every character to get the team excited about creating it.
As a leader, the worst thing you can do is put yourself in a bubble or create barriers between you and your team. Your vision, and your passion for seeing it through, are contagious!
5. Perseverance Will See You Through
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” –Steve Jobs
It’s easy to look at what Steve Jobs accomplished with Apple and think he had an easy path, but the real story is quite a bit darker. While he was indeed co-founder of Apple in 1976, a title he shared with Steve Wozniak, Jobs was forced out of the company in 1985. The above quote was made that same year as Jobs launched his new company, NeXT Computer, later acquired by Apple, thus bringing Jobs back into the fold.
Jobs contended that the enormous workload a new entrepreneur carries results in 18-hour days, seven days a week, during the early stages. “You’ve got to have an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right, that you’re passionate about,” Jobs continued. “Otherwise, you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through.”
As a small-business owner, it can be difficult to cope with the burden of your new life but remember that almost nothing is forever. Businesses even come back from bankruptcies. A few examples include General Motors and Marvel Entertainment. Even Apple hit a serious low in 1997 but was brought back from the brink. Whether you’re struggling with cash, people, products, or something else, you can push through it and come out stronger.
6. Attract Fresh New Talent Through Social Media
“Social media allows you to make your jobs more human. Tell talent about the people behind the products. Trust your recruiters to be your digital warriors.” –Celinda Appleby
You may not have heard Celinda Appleby’s name before, but she works in a space known as “recruitment marketing,” serving as the Director of Global Talent Attraction for Visa with an impressive resume that includes the likes of Nike, Oracle, and HP. While she doesn’t necessarily dig in the trenches of social media to find new talent, she uses various platforms for employment branding, showcasing how an employer has a culture, growth opportunities, and incentives that job searchers will find irresistible. Other tactics she keeps in her wheelhouse include choosing the right platform for the demographic and using employee-generated content often.
As you explore the options, LinkedIn may be a great place to start, but don’t limit yourself. You may find your target demographic is more active on Facebook, Instagram, or another social media site. Cut through the weeds and focus on what works best for you and your ideal candidates.
Don’t Let Cash Flow Problems Stand in the Way of Your Business Growth
Businesses of all types can struggle with cash flow issues. They’re common during peak periods and times of rapid growth. But, if slow-paying clients are preventing you from innovating, attracting talent, or leveling up your business through any of the leadership secrets outlined here, your company growth can stall. Invoice factoring will help by giving you an instant cash advance on your unpaid B2B invoices so that you can focus on the future. To get started, request a complimentary Charter Capital rate quote.
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