The Eternal Entrepreneur

There’s an entrepreneur in every successful leader.

Leaders have that restlessness that makes them constantly looking for improvements, new options, new markets, and more growth. They’re eager for change and development and have respect for but lack interest for basic operations, reports, long intern meetings and traditional operation assignments.

It is the entrepreneur with the sense for scaling and growth that will become a successful leader.

Sense for scaling is the key phrase, since many talented entrepreneurs don’t become leaders of a company with constant growth only because they haven’t mastered the scaling. Many entrepreneurs focus on being the ‘man of the house’ and being a part in every aspect of the business; knowing all the customers and employees and to be the center of attention.

This classic entrepreneur will not be able to achieve growth in the long run or on a larger scale. There are many healthy things in being the initiator, the motivator, the center of attention and understanding all aspects of your business, but the change from being a successful entrepreneur to a successful leader is founded on clear principles and a continuous understanding of your own role and function.

A powerful growth isn’t the objective for all, but if you want to grow from 10-15 to 100 employees in 1-2 years, not knowing the names of all your employees, having customers you didn’t even realize you had, experience the bank beginning to recognize you as a legitimate customer, and suddenly talking about a market value in the millions, then you can’t change paths or principles often.

The bridge between being an entrepreneur and a leader is to keep your entrepreneur mind, but focus on:

  • Having a joint goal and vision- Have a clear goal set, vision for the company, and being sure that everyone understands and shares it
  • Creating a culture and atmosphere of change- Growth means constant changes. Employees, procedures and routines should be constantly changed, so build windmills and don’t fence in or exploit change. Motivate and reward reconstruction and renewal. Challenge habits and routines. Experiment, test, take chances and try something new
  • Ensuring talented people around you- Growth shapes new needs and no entrepreneur is the best at all positions (even if we often think we are), so employ better people than yourself for specific functions and have confidence in their work
  • Hiring carefully, but fire confidently- It’s expensive and harmful to get the wrong employee in, so even if there’s specific needs, you need to hurry slowly. On the other hand, there isn’t time for many chances or hope for change if the employee isn’t prepared for the changes that come with growth
  • Simplifying the organizational operation- Many non-essential functions can advantageously be outsourced, and a lot of marketing , PR , customer care , knowledge sharing , reporting and information can be automated and done in the cloud rather than in the meeting room.
  • Accept failures – Change Culture is accepting failures. That you test and fail, that you have more faith in the market and customer response than long analyzes and reports. It also means that you have to forgive more than you have to grant permissions. Growth-orientated employees and talented management teams must dare to find new and original ways to achieve the common objective
  • Management By Walking Around (MBWA) – Be visible, direct and committed. Have team meetings outside, come uninvited to meetings, have an open office and meet employees in informal settings.
  • Celebrate successes – Preserve the joy of small and large successes. Share the good stories and celebrate them!
  • Maintain open and direct dialogue – Investors, advisors and professional boards are often a prerequisite for growth, but they must not destroy the open and direct dialogue from your entrepreneur days. Provide updates on large screens, share information, give the opportunity for input, criticism and dialogue and remember changing culture rule number 1: The leader must lead the way of change. The manager must continuously change his or hers format for involvement with employees, but always with a focus on openness Sounds easier than done in practical terms but these objectives are key for growth orientated companies

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Change Culture

In our fast moving economy owners, managers and staff are all constantly facing need for changes.

Only problem is that most people want changes but don’t want to be changed. We are creatures of habit and very few people wake up every morning and want to be changed.

We like stability, known procedures, clear tasks, specific role and most people prefer minimum changes to work functions, office structure, technology and routines. Even privately we tend to live in the same house, have same friends, same habits and same interests for very big part of our lives.

With a business climate where products, services and technologies from last year already are being replaced, copied or outperformed, owners and managers are constantly faced with the critical problem of needing changes in a company where most people are uncomfortable with changes.

The key is to ensure that the managers are aware of the change challenges – That they handle changes efficiently and create a change culture. Changes are a constant process so it has to become an integrated part of the company culture and so normal and acceptable that changes are expected not feared.

This can only be ensured by managers that

  • Acquire input on needed changes through professional board, advisers, networks etc.
  • Focus on objectives and not roles, tasks and procedures
  • Establish – and respect – team and individual empowerment
  • Encourage and reward questions, ideas and experiments
  • Believes in relational management with dialogue and relationships
  • Want to be visible and available (manage by walking around)
  • Accept criticism, failures and mistakes

Managers can only succeed if they handle change in a productive manner and the biggest challenge is often they have to change themselves. Great managers know when things are great and they feel things are perfect, it is time to change – I love it. It is perfect. Now change it