As an entrepreneur’s career progresses, realizations start to occur that are fundamental to success. Depending on your character, these things can be difficult to make a habit. I have a few pointers I think most people naturally or emotionally think are incorrect, but that is not the case. I am sure these are floating somewhere on the internet, but it took experiences in the forms of success and failure to solidify them mentally. By sharing my experiences, you won’t have to learn the hard way.
Ignore – Smart and effective people know what to ignore. After learning the hard way, that focus is the name of the game, I began to eliminate distractions. Smart entrepreneurs know what to ignore (as communicated by one of my closest friends); I reduced and ignored elements across all channels. I limited the number of companies we incubate or consult. I reduced the number of tasks I would take on or even set further due dates. I went as far as hanging out with friends less (ones who had less value in my life).
Say No – The hardest thing a hustler can do is say no. There are a lot of reasons we say yes; to be kind, to be liked, or fear of missing an opportunity. As the previous tip notes, ignore things if they are not relevant or do not logically make sense. A hard no is better than a soft yes. If you drag things on with maybes or you are unsure, it delays the inevitable and gives you an excuse to lack focus. The way I think of things is simple, if it’s not an outright yes, then it is a no. Very rarely is something truly a maybe or need more thought, you are just clinging on to an opportunity out of emotion or not being bold enough to reject it.
Be Bold – Being liked by everyone is the #1 way to fail. You see that these tips all relate in some shape or form, and having conviction is another great trait. Effective managers are leaders who make hard decisions and say things no one else will. It does not give you the right to be rude or condescending, how you say the message is just as important as the message itself. Whether you are telling a colleague you won’t enable their bad habits or rejecting a bad idea; be sure to express your feelings and explain how you came to that decision.
Focus – Multitasking is overrated. We live in the information age, and you can easily be overwhelmed with data and tasks. You can enter a black hole quickly, especially if you handle your own tasks (as a founder or owner). Work in an agile format and use productivity tricks to get things done (look up GTD in Google). Learn to delegate things by writing clear instructions and setting deadlines. Choose a few things you want to get done every day and ask yourself before starting a task “Does this help me complete any of today’s priorities?” If not, push the task off. Note that this applies on a micro and macro level, this doesn’t mean your daily tasks, it means reducing commitments on all levels by using the previous tips as well. It’s ok to say “no” to a team lunch to focus on your work. It’s ok to say “no” to pub crawl, to organize your apartment for the weekend.
Simplicity – The world is complicated, intelligent people make it simple. You know someone is an expert on a topic when they can take something complicated and teach it with simplicity. It applies to everything from Math and English to digital marketing and development. Do not make assumptions when it comes to building your product. Build on systems and start them simple as possible because complexities will naturally come. For example, instead of trying to streamline your entire financial department, start by taking the simple recurring needs like payroll or A/R and building a system for that. From there you can build on it and before you know it, your entire financial department is running smoothly.
Execute – I don’t trust words, I trust actions. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and they can all sound pretty good; however execution is what gains traction and builds good businesses. Hold your peers accountable for their words and set plans to execute. Ready. Fire. Aim. When dealing with the digital space, it’s easy to roll something back or make adjustments after the fact. It should not be an excuse to produce low-quality work. Skills can be learned, hard work and execution is a character trait; build it in your culture and team, and you will find results coming in much faster.
Remember that even though these things seem to make sense as rationally the best way to expedite results, we do not always act as rational beings. Use them to trim your vices and pursue your virtues and success will only be a matter of time.