If you want to forge your own path as an entrepreneur, or take the next step with your startup, then it pays to have some proven pointers – RSNG teamed up with micro-learning platform and app Blinkist to bring you these killer insights from the top gurus…
‘What we fear doing the most is often exactly the thing we should do to turn our dreams into a reality’ The 4-hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Unchartered waters are scary, but that’s exactly where you need to head if you want to start a new company. We often find excuses to avoid pursuing our dreams – ‘it’s too hard’ or ‘I can’t risk losing out.’ This is because we’re creatures of habit and find routines reassuring, but staying in a rut won’t help you to grow, and that goes for existing startups too – face your fears rather than letting them hold you back. If you don’t risk losing, then you may never win.
‘Everyone makes mistakes – so it’s your job to help them learn from them’
‘Criticising someone is easy, but it takes character to be understanding, and to forgive others for their mistakes and shortcomings’ How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Your startup is your baby, so it’s understandable that you might criticise someone who doesn’t do what’s perfect for it. But good leaders need empathy – it’s what gives your team confidence, both in your ability to give them cover from above, and to enable them to work together on the ground. Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s your job to help them learn from that.
‘Being truly effective means being clear about what it is you want to achieve, and being proactive in putting your goals into action. This is best achieved by striving to synergise with others, to invest in lasting relationships and to maintain a balanced lifestyle’ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People* by Stephen Covey
Business plans are so 20th Century, so make like Elon Musk and have a manifesto jam for your new startup. You have the grand vision, so get your team involved in plotting the path to success, and agreeing the values that you will keep along the way. That will supercharge the synergies in your team, and because everyone has bought into the manifesto, it’s more likely to forge lasting professional relationships. And make sure you pay attention to you and your teams’ wellbeing from the word go.
‘To answer an email, you need to stop what you’re doing, thereby breaking your concentration. And it’s estimated that, on average, it takes us around 25 minutes to return to a place of deep concentration after checking email’ Irresistible by Adam Alter
It’s called the switch cost, and it applies to Whatsapp and Facebook as much as email. Every time our attention is pulled away from the task we’re doing, with an email notification for instance, we have to re-engage it to return to our state of focus. This costs time and mental energy, which is a finite resource. So, take back control of your day by checking emails only at set times, and limiting notifications or alerts – these are guaranteed to destroy your flow.
‘We all have a human need to be more than a cog in a machine’
‘Firstly, let team members decide how they’re going to reach objectives’ Scrum by Jeff Sutherland
When you start from scratch the temptation is to micromanage, to individually steer every member of your team. This is a mistake. Presumably, you hired them for their knowledge and potential? Then let them exercise it, be responsible for getting where they need to be, and ultimately be accountable for it. We all have a human need to be more than a cog in a machine, so keep your team happy by empowering them to work in the way that they are the most effective.
‘Good-to-great companies focused more on finding people with the right character traits rather than professional abilities, reasoning that the right people can always be trained and educated’ Good to Great by James C. Collins
When hiring new staff it’s easy to fall into the trap of a box-ticking exercise. But a superbly qualified candidate may not be a good fit for the culture and ethos of your company. Go back to the values embedded in your manifesto and start from there. You’re looking for someone who can complement what you’ve already built, not transform it, so look beyond the CV. Don’t worry if they don’t have all the skills you wanted – it’s always better to teach someone something new, rather than letting a fantastic hire fall through the cracks.
‘What’s the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?’ The ONE Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan
Once your startup is established, resist becoming too comfortable. Take regular steps back and ask yourself: is there a bottleneck here? Or: ‘What single thing can I do to speed things up?’ Whether it’s admin tasks or pitching for new business, there’s usually something that can be done, better, faster and more effectively, so don’t be afraid to shake things up, to streamline your operation and help it to be even more agile.
WHAT NEXT? Watch Adam Alter deliver another top tip for startups – how to harness the gamifying effect...