Tag Archives: leadership

The 5 Biggest Myths of the Successful Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Ross Kingsland

As the rise of entrepreneurs continues in our communities today there have been a lot of myths and untruths that have developed. Many of these have been “discovered” through academic and government research, although asking civil servants and academics for their insight into entrepreneurship is a little like asking the beer-belly football supporter how he would score a goal during the World Cup Final.

Myth number 1: Successful Entrepreneurs are self-starting loners

Successful Entrepreneurs are very good at the initial idea, the genesis of a business. However, they are also quickly recognise what is within their skill set and what is needed to get a business moving. They understand that speed to market, especially in the digital age, is critical so they build networks, form virtual teams, outsource tasks, project manage and use a coach to keep them focused.

While the idea remains theirs they can only grow the company to a point. Those entrepreneurs who are most adapt at growing companies in the fastest possible time assemble teams who are committed to the tasks the entrepreneur sets.

Amid this, the entrepreneur can be easily distracted, easily lose sight of the big picture. At which point all successful entrepreneurs have sought a coach. This is to help keep them focused on what they are doing and what needs to happen next.

Myth number 2: Successful Entrepreneurs are academically brilliant

Ken Robinson’s brilliant TED talk “Changing Education Paradigms” is now a recognised internationally as a bucket of cold water to our hungover education system. The education system was designed for the industrial age – not the digital one.

In fact recent research from Illinois showed that 44% of high tech entrepreneurs have a bachelor’s degree, 30% have a masters and 4% have an MD, only 10% had a PHD.

What successful entrepreneurs are exceptional at is investment in their continued learning. We recognise that to stay current and competitive the entrepreneur must invest in themselves first to gain and acquire knowledge.

Myth number 3: Successful Entrepreneurs have innovative and novel ideas

There are over 7 billion people in the world today, right this second. Which from a statistical view means that there is no such thing as an original thought. Everything you have ever thought of has already been thought and done.

So what are successful entrepreneurs good at? Action.

They seize the opportunity and follow through to completion against the odds, against the competition, against the disbelief and negativity of others.

The Wright Brothers soared into the history books with the first powered flight over a set distance. However, they were not the only people trying to achieve this feat at that time. Amongst others was Samuel Langley, a famous astronomer and scientist who had full time staff at his disposal and a $50,000 government grant from the US War Department. He was a Harvard professor and former Mathematics professor at the Naval Academy. His influential friends included Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell.

And he was beaten by some bicycle shop owners.

Myth number 4: Successful Entrepreneurs are business gurus

Successful Entrepreneurs are outstanding in their own business, and know that market inside and out and are able to anticipate their needs and wants.

When I met Richard Branson he told me that on his birthday he was in a board meeting and his group of company directors were discussing the figures for the year. There was a lot of discussion about net and gross profit. Richard sat there and asked at the end of it “so are we doing well?”. His senior financial advisor spoke with him afterwards and said “Richard, do you know the difference between net and gross profit?”. “No” he confessed. At which point his financial advisor drew a picture on the wall that showed a school of fish and a big net catching some of them.

It was his 50th birthday.

Myth number 5: Successful Entrepreneurs have all the answers

Successful Entrepreneurs learn many things along their journey from just “entrepreneur” to “successful entrepreneur”. One of the biggest lessons that they all confess to is truly understanding themselves. What they are good at, what they are bad at, where they need support and where they excel.

Most have built their businesses around their strengths whist acquiring people to supporting them through their weaknesses. Speak with any truly successful entrepreneur and they are hungry to hear what you have to say, they want to know your thoughts, they want to see how you can help them. Because they know that their success can just as easily slip away due to arrogance and hubris.

A successful entrepreneur is always a student, and always applying their new learnings.

If you enjoyed this blog please feel free to share it, leave comments or contact me directly at ross@inceptionbusinesssolutions.com

I HAD To Share This With You – What To Avoid When Presenting To Your Board

I’ve recently read some well intentioned advice from mentors, coaches, experts and gurus who have all come from similar positions.

They are hired to go into organisations and advice buisness owners on what they need to do to take their company to the next level in whatever skill set that may be. I saw one consultant offering advice to a marketing executive who was trying to convince his MD about the value of marketing. It read:

“…….ask him where he spends his money: whose shirt is he wearing, which car does he drive, who does he bank with, which airline does he use, which is his favourite restaurant, which phone is in his pocket, which gym he goes to, what laptop does he use and so on.

Then ask him why, and if he says anything like I feel good in them, it’s cool, it’s convenient, it’s cheap or luxury, the people are friendly, the product does what it’s supposed to, I keep going back there because they know me – that’s all Marketing.

If that doesn’t work, ask him where next year’s new and returning customers are going to come from if there’s no communication outwards or brand building, no understanding of what value you’re offering at what price, no product innovation and no understanding of what it’s really like being a customer”

This was painful to read.

Imagine if you were the MD receiving these questions from a marketing executive who is basically calling you an idiot.

So, why is this approach so ineffective? It starts from the position that you are right and he is wrong about how to run his business.

And no one likes to be told they are wrong. But everyone does have self doubt on something in their lives. It’s natural. It’s what keeps us moving forward trying to find ways to improve and be more efficient.

How can we reposition this that will be eloquent?

FIrst off we need to start from the position that they are fine as they are, in whatever they are doing. They do not need to do anything to their business if they do not wish to.

Everything in the world has a cause and effect. If you do X then Y will happen. If you do nothing then Z will happen.

If the MD decides to invest in marketing (X) then sales / brand awareness / customer loyalty etc (Y) will increase. If the MD does not decide to invest in marketing then it is possible that you will lose sales, brand awareness will decrease, customer loyalty will fade (Z).

As soon as you become emotionally attached to the situation your judgement becomes clouded and the most effective action to achieve the goal may not be pursued.

With the example above, what was particularly interesting was that the conversation was about what the marketing executive wanted to do – not what the business needed or wanted to do.

If you were the MD how would you feel?

I emailed the maketing executive separately to give some caution to the “well intentioned” advice from the “expert” to consider his approach to influencing a a senior executive. Watch this space.

For more non positional influencing strategies I recommend I’m Ok, You’re Ok by Thomas Harris available at amazon.com

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Im-Ok-Youre-Thomas-Harris/dp/009955755X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352991286&sr=8-1

What Is The First Word You Think Of When I Say “Sales Person”?

“Greasy”, “deceptive”, “liar”, “slimy”, “manipulative”, “sleazy” one person shouted out “great guy”

So I asked “how many of you in this room are sales people, raise your hands?”

About 50% of the room raised their hands.

However, not all of them were aware that they were sales people.

“If you’re an owner of a business you had better be raising your hand” a further 30% raised their hand, and my last question had 99% with their hands in the air….

“If you are a parent you had better be raising your hand”

And I used the example because are kids great sales people. You don’t have to teach them with how to deal with rejection, they let it pass on by and keep coming. “You can’t have an ice cream” 10 minutes later they’re licking a cornetto with a smile on their face. No one taught them any scripts, nothing

What I want you to understand is that the single most important skill in life come down to one thing. We hate the word selling and all the negative conetations that come with that, but it’s the word that all leaders have.

So I’ll give you the word that it really is – influence.

What changes companies? Leaders. The only way to change a company is leadership.

Leaders solve problems and maximise resources.

If you could solve the problems then it would already be solved. You have to get others to help you do it, and that requires influence. If you can get people to maximise thier resources that requires influence.

If you’re going to get people to partner with you, provide resources or capital you need influence, develop supplier relationships. If you’re going to have an impact on your kids, on your community on the world then it requires influence

And yet most of us think of it as selling as so we don’t master it

If you can’t influence, you can’t lead

But if you can influence powerfully, intelligently and with integrity there is no limit to what you can envision and make real.

And if your influence becomes more than you just you and you are able to influence systems, people, companies, cultures,

If you can turn other people into influencers, now what ever you envision about can be made into reality.

So the question becomes, how do you influence? And how effective is your current strategy?

Is the decoupling of number of facebook users and share price a concern for us all?

Emperors New Clothes?

Social media. We all talk about how important it is. We are all aware of its impact on society. The question is really – Is it actually going to grow my business?

I am always amazed at people who proclaim social media to be critical to the growth of their company and revenue. Well again here is the biggest example of that NOT being true. Facebook has over 1 billion users and yet it’s share price continues to fall as revenue projections consistently fail to materialise. Bigger is not better.

And maybe we can see this already closer to home. I have attended several networking events with social media “experts” and “gurus”. Thing is, anyone can call themselves a guru or expert last time I checked there was no certified body handing these qualifications out. Anyway, they are all stood around plying their trade to desparate companies who are trying anything to keep revenue coming in.

My concern with this is this: if you are so good at social and online media – why are you even here? All of your business should be coming through your online activity?

Talk the talk or Walk the Talk?

How can you immediately find out how “good” they really are? Go to their twitter account or facebook page and check how many “likes” or “followers” they actually have. You will be very surprised.