By Abid Malik, Lee's Summit, Missouri, USA
November 4, 2015
If entrepreneur's behavior affect business performance, then we can identify key entrepreneurial traits to accelerate venture creation and its growth.
Gallup studied 2,500 entrepreneurs to understand the decisions and actions that lead to business success.
Highly successful entrepreneurs are, therefore, three to five times more likely to exceed sales and profit goals and build large businesses.
They consistently cultivate deep relationships with their employees and customers, are laser-focused on business outcomes, and are problem solver.
They are more likely to articulate competitive advantage of their organization and products to their clients.
They are more likely to make decisions about development of their products, services and prices with their customers in mind
Their vision and planning is nicely aligned with talents of their team and employees
They are Business Focused, Confident, Creative Thinkers, Delegators,Determined, Independent, Knowledge-Seekers, Promoters, Relationship Builders, and Risk Takers ... They are Entrepreneurs Ready for Growth
Simple things business leaders do; They Thrive, not just survive.
A bottom-line focus drives company to put earning profit for shareholders as a top priority.
"The question has to be asked — and asked seriously — “If we did not do this already, would we go into it now?” If the answer is no, the reaction must be “What do we do now?” Very often, the right answer is abandonment." Peter Drucker
A person of confidence is a person with self assuring feeling that something is true or something will happen without having too much concern about the outcome or disapproval of other people.
"I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours - so enjoy the view." Michael York
Arrogant people, on the other hand, are people making false claims over something they don't deserve. They have two dominant qualities; They reject truth and look down on others. They are people drowned in delusion about themselves and others.
Without confidence people may fail or not even try due to lack of it.
"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." Henry David Thoreau
A true innovator is the one who has passion to create something that most of the people believe cannot be done.
“Steve Job was so bright, so visionary that I had to fire him” Arthur Rock, Investor of Intel & Apple
Innovators should never underestimate themselves. For Institutional investors, the big numbers do matter. You have to abandon the conventional wisdom. The plan has to stand out of the herd mentality.
For VC investors, market size matters but idea has to be unique
Innovation requires laser like focus because single invention may lead to several competing value propositions. Picking the right value requires skills, discipline and plenty of luck. And don’t forget your competition.
If you know value proposition of both yours and competitors products, you will most likely succeed, if you only know value of your product but not of product of your competition, you may have some chance but if you don’t know any of the value propositions, startup is destined for failure.
Google search now offers multiple values; Maps, email, docs, videos, robot, internet balloons, drones, medical research
Innovation includes not only technologies, but also new methods or ways of doing things that sometimes appears quite ordinary. Innovation can be in a new product design, new production process, a new approach to marketing, or new way of organizing and managing the team. It can involve virtually any activity that creates new value.
An oversimplified goal of the CEO is to do two things; Create vision and delegate.
Once the system is in place and in the hands of his team, running effectively and efficiently, CEO is mostly hands off.
It's possible to be a good leader without constantly leading. It really comes down to empowering the team.
It's not easy to delegate but when you do, you are helping others move forward, get more tasks done, leaving you plenty of time to focus on what you are good at.
When team members see their work valued and appreciated, productivity goes up, morale is high and so are the rewards.
However, many managers delegate a task without an agreed upon deadline, then expect it to be completed yesterday, creating unnecessary frustration and stress.
Lack of FOLLOW UP is another issue. If a project deadline was three months and you did not do the weekly follow up, don't be surprised if project is behind schedule or fell through the crack.
When we treat our employees as team members instead of workers, they often share creative ideas that can help improve things. Employees feel part of decision-making process towards a common goal.
You are simply balancing company rules with innovation, an orderly workplace with empowerment.
Delegation can be a game-changer. It also improves interpersonal relationship. A good leader is therefore first a relational then a transformational leader.
Richard Branson calls it “in it together” attitude within his organization.
However, in small to mid-size companies, specially in startups, CEO is often involved in many functional activities. He is mostly hands on, designing the systems that his team will be responsible for executing later when he is hands off.
It’s better to be a part of the team than to put yourself on a pedestal ... and the way to do that is to roll up your sleeves and go to a work from time to time.
"And indeed We made a covenant with Adam before, but he forgot, and We found on his part no firm will-power." (Taha 20:115)
An unwavering determination can move mountains. It makes the impossible, possible. We can't set our heart on any vision without a strong will.
"The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps - we must step up the stairs" Vance Havner
"A man's measure is his will." Ali ibn Abi Talib
"The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire, and persistence. Talent without these things vanishes and even modest talent with those characteristics grows."
Milton Glaser, American Designer
Owning a business requires more than just running it. It means taking responsibility of ALL its aspects from marketing to finance, meeting only the highest standards.
When you “own the task” of operating a company, you already are aware of its purpose, its risks, and the rewards.
You become aware of your role in the company and work hard to become productive members of the team.
Not to say that you will never feel discouraged, but you immediately pick yourself up when you do stumble.
Henry Ford could not have said it better: "Whether you think you can or think you can't, either way you are right
There are three things you do when acquiring knowledge, making efforts, being patient, and spending time with people of knowledge.
"Knowledge is acquired through suffering and forbearance (hilm)”.
A startup founder struggles day and night to learn. He reaches out to see how he can build his team, improves his or her product, works on his or her marketing and selling skills, and how and where to find the funding he or she needs. That’s mujahida. It also means people are not born with knowledge. This is something you acquire with time and lots of patience.
A sound mind and spirit (a'fiya) is important before seeking knowledge.
A'fiya (wellness) means faith free of innovation, actions free of corruption, soul (nafs) free of lust (shehwa), heart free of hawa (fantasy) and waswasa (temptation), and body free of sickness.
Beneficial knowledge has three parts: kalam (communication), good judgment, and akhlaq (ethics).
"Humility is first order of business"
“I utilized a small amount of a sort of learning, which is in fact closer to ignorance than knowledge, and accompanied it with a minimum amount of etiquette (adab) and yet it was enough to rescue me from (spiritual) death.” Qadi Abu Bakr
"We are approaching a new age of synthesis. Knowledge cannot be merely a degree or a skill ... it demands a broader vision, capabilities in critical thinking and logical deduction without which we cannot have constructive progress" Li Ka-shing
People are supposed to do what they are good at. There is this famous South Asian saying:
"Neem Hakeem Khatra Jan, Neem Mullah Khatra Iman"
"Half a doctor is dangerous to the body, half a scholar is dangerous to the soul"
What we mean by knowledge is information in action, information focused on results.
"The knowledge that we consider knowledge proves itself in action" Peter F. Drucker
Knowledge management is the art of transforming useful information into a sustainable value for clients and employees of any organization
The goal of knowledge management is to use intellectual assets to make informed decision and set stage to solve old problems with new tools & methods.
It's about providing path to innovation, effectiveness and efficiency.
Effective knowledge management is about building useful skills guided by your right attitude.
Skill is to repeat something efficiently. Attitude is the emotional capacity for effective performance.
Relevant knowledge is the knowledge needed to optimally perform your tasks or job.
Irrelevant knowledge has little or no effect on your optimal performance.
So knowledge management is understanding people's hearts and mind to improve working conditions in an office and to have a better quality of life.
"Sale is mainly fueled by discount and marketing is judged by overall profit company makes"
"What can we say about a marketing culture that so openly feeds and colludes with obsession? The Disney empire has developed this to an unprecedented degree of professionalism." Rowan Williams
Ethical Marketing is about need, not deceptive desirability. It's about innovation in user friendliness. It's about sophistication without complexity.
"Steve Jobs was the greatest manufacturer of consumer products of his age. His marketing vision put him on par with Henry Ford, and his grasp of the aesthetic component to industrial design far surpassed Ford's."
Emotional relationship with the client is based on trust, not hit and run or short cuts to profits
"Great companies that build an enduring brand have an emotional relationship with customers that has no barrier. And that emotional relationship is on the most important characteristic, which is trust." Howard Schultz
Freemium is not a business model but a marketing strategy. It's a way to get people try your solution to get them ready for sale. It removes the resistance before you charge your customers.
Al Shaybani (750 – 805) shows that pursuit of provision is reason for social organization. No one person could ever master all the knowledge and skills to live well. Thanks to diversity of their occupation and skills, people join together to share and complement each other to fulfill the need for their living
“And God has preferred some of you over others in provision (wealth)” (Al Nahl 16:71)
Since God created social inequality, He commands us to practice social solidarity.
Networking is often a peer to peer socio-economic activity to maintain or create new business opportunities.
“Power connectors are those who can make things happen quickly for themselves and others ... They are often the go-to people." Judy Robinett
Millions of Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter followers are just contacts. Most likely, they are not going to make things happen for you because there is huge gap between virtual trust and an old fashioned trust you build with people after meetings, travelling and doing transactions with them.
Successful entrepreneurs spend 80% of their time with handful people that they have built trust.
It also takes lots of meetings, phone calls, and emails to maintain your social capital. Networking is a constant activity of relationship building.
The relationship with people we really trust is not based on barter trading of favors, instead it is based on unconditional leveraging without being selfish.
One of key characteristics of a leader is the art of attentive listening which sends a strong signal to others that you really care. If you are constantly checking text messages and taking non-emergency phone calls during a face to face meeting, it dampens relationships.
Great opportunities often come from risk-taking.
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." T. S. Eliot
Most people consider risk-taking as a crazy or foolish idea. Yes, most ventures do fail but others succeed and there are logical reasons behind each success; They have taken calculated risks.
Risk taking also gives you the opportunity to take the challenge and prove yourself.
People who take calculated risks, know themselves and others. That's confidence.
We often don't see multiple failures and pivoting before a big success. Each mistake comes with a learning experience. Honest mistakes are bridges between inexperienced and experienced life.
"You only learn when you take risks"
You also have to understand that your path is not made of red carpeted stairs in a Grand Plaza hotel. These are uneven steps with pointed rocks here and there. It's more like hiking up on a rugged mountain trail.
Life is not a country club, it has it's ups and downs. Yes, you will occasionally find resting place along your way ... so enjoy the view and celebrate your small victories on your road to a big achievement.
People who play safe will have a life but it will be a very tiny life that has little or no impact.
"The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks." Mark Zuckerberg
So, life begins at the end of comfort zone. To realize your full potential, you have to struggle for your dream.
"Adventure without risk is Disneyland." Douglas Coupland
Most people are people of convenience. They will show their loyalty until they see risk, rejection or criticism. Instead of taking the initiative, they look around to see where others are heading.
"If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary." Jim Rohn
Risk taking does not mean you behave like a daredevil. It's not necessarily a jaw-dropping or hair-raising "jumping off a cliff" experience. Calculated risk- taking increases multifold chances of success.
Do your homework and careful planning before you start. Set your timelines and record each milestone to stay on track.
Gradual and incremental steps eventually add up to something consequential. Life is more like a marathon than a sprint.