Out of all the ‘Entrepreneurial Rulebook’ posts I have a habit of writing on a monthly basis, this one is perhaps the easiest to date. Let me ask you this innocuous question:
you decided to give jogging a go – what would be easier: do it with a group or go solo?
It’s with a group, right? Even if you are a loner or socially awkward or whatever else that makes you avoid people, you can’t argue that doing things in a group isn’t beneficial. It provides a momentum, charges your willpower to succeed, gives you a benchmark on which to measure – not to mention there’s a little bit of peer pressure if you fail to show up or you simply waste money by quitting and hanging your running shoes.
If I employ that metaphor within a business environment, I get this:
a leader gets up in the morning (most of the time, anyway) because they have a responsibility to people who are placing their future in the hands of that leader (who is also a manager, in my opinion). When you think about it that way – it’s huge.
It’s about being accountable and being there to inspire
I’m a parent of two jolly boys and I’ve noticed a pattern: people get better at being leaders when they have kids. They become your joie de vivre. You want to set an example for them and be accountable for your promises. And it’s challenging. You look at those Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper’s, all clean and smelling of new rubber, and say to yourself “not now, I’ll run a little bit later” or “I’ll procrastinate now and start tomorrow”.
When you’re solo it’s easy because there’s no one to be responsible for but you. You can convince yourself, sometimes even worryingly fast, about the validity and logic of your choice.
What’s really cool about having people you’re accountable to around you is that the momentum shifts. You begin to make promises to someone else and it’s about something you are not entirely sure you can deliver.
“This company is going to be sold for $5 million.”
It’s a great dream to have but you don’t know for a fact if it will ever become a reality. Maybe it will. But some people will take the risk and be with you for the journey. You can’t be responsible for their actions but what happens now is that they call you in the morning and want your feedback and want to help you get to that finish line. That is one of the biggest motivations in the business.
Having people around is not only beneficial – it’s necessary
I happened to have a partner or two in a few of my entrepreneurial ventures, sometimes before the business even began to operate. They motivated me to wake up and attend that meeting (there’s always a meeting) even if I didn’t want to or wasn’t feeling well. In a way, you owe it to them, and they owe it to you. Your name is your brand and its worth is measured in actions.
When I just started writing these blog posts, the second-ever post I wrote was about the way I perceive success. A recurring theme in those early posts was trust because that’s what defines success: when people trust you enough without ever having to second guess you. I’m living proof that people are willing to invest even if there is no innovative idea or an amazing business plan in front of them. They trusted my ability to do whatever it takes to make them money.
That is what any responsible entrepreneur should do.
But not all entrepreneurs are like that.
There are those who just manage people and there are those who just hire the right people to get the job done. Nothing wrong with that picture but here’s the kicker:
the most successful ones are people who have a sense of commitment to others and keep taking people under their wings.
They care the most, strive to make other people content and try their hardest to deliver on a made promise. The responsibility these entrepreneurs take unto themselves adds to one very important facet of entrepreneurship – evolving. If you are successful, you are evolving and learning to lead by example.
So if you need to motivate yourself – which I admit is hard to do sometimes – a huge motivational boost is just taking responsibility for someone. I promise you it’ll motivate you more than anything else.
A method for accelerating a startup’s initial growth
Another cool thing about taking responsibility is that it’s also a way to get a startup running a lot quicker. Anyone who has started a company will tell you how tedious yet encompassing the process is. There are a lot of things that can preoccupy you for the next 10 months or a week if you go at it with someone.
Not only is it easier to deal with day-to-day challenges but it also makes for a less demanding way to manage risks. While I maintain that being an entrepreneur means doing things your way, entrepreneurship is a team sport. If you try to be everything all the time, prepare to fail – a lot. There need to be clearly defined positions with the right people filling them. If you ever find those people, you’ll experience this warm sense of camaraderie when you both succeed and fail together.
A few words of advice or warning, though. As you’ve surely gathered by now, I perceive leaders as also managers. However, if the role of a manager doesn’t suit you – don’t be one. To be a manager, you have to lead people – it’s simple. And sometimes, leading implies making unpopular decisions, especially if you are surrounded by friends.
Not everyone is management material and there’s no need to force yourself into a position that doesn’t suit you. Be a developer or a marketing guru or a legal wizard or a finance person – any position where you feel most comfortable and can make an impact. There where your responsibility-taking will shine the brightest.