We’ve recently concluded the Falak Unreasonable Entrepreneur Weekend [supported by Tamkeen],a two-day “deep learning” entrepreneurship retreat held at the Novotel Bahrain. I was delighted by the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of the entrepreneurs in attendance, many of which are in the idea or startup phase of their business. The youngest was in their early twenties, and the oldest was in their late forties or early fifties.
Having spent a full two days with them (16 hours on the first day alone) I noticed some mistakes that most of the attendees had in common. I’ve also noticed these common mistakes at many of the entrepreneurship and startup events I speak at, and with the entrepreneurs I coach and mentor. Here’s what they are:
1) Poor employee recruitment, orientation and engagement:
In a way this is understandable. When you’re a busy entrepreneur wearing many hats and “firefighting” on a daily basis, it’s hard to be strategic about selection, recruitment, induction, orientation, training and engagement. However, the cost of not doing this is much more painful and harmful to the business than it would have if the effort were made in the first place. You must set aside to do this right. I know it’s time consuming and very unsexy, but if you do it right you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache. I suggest reading the articles below to learn more about this:
2) Lack of sales knowledge and experience:
Make no mistake, face-to-face selling is a science and art that every entrepreneur should learn. I’m shocked that many don’t even know the difference between features and benefits. This is inexcusable. If you consider yourself an entrepreneur, then you must learn how to sell, even if you’re just selling a downloadable app. You’ll lose out on many potential users If you don’t know how to sell and demonstrate the key benefits someone will get from your app. For more information read this article.
3) Haphazard operations:
Too many small businesses are dependent on the owners or key employee’s memory when it comes to running the business. And whenever someone leaves, key information that is not noted down somewhere is lost. Moreover, it will be almost impossible to introduce changes as everyone is used to doing things the way they’ve always been done.
An operations manual can help solve this. I’m a huge proponent of operations manuals. I always preach having strong systems in place and having good team members to run those systems. The first version of your OM does not have to be big, just a few pages will suffice. You can update it as you go along. An added benefit is that your OM also becomes the training manual for new recruits. See this and this article on how to write an operations manual.
4) Incorrect mindset:
I could write a book about entrepreneurial mindset. You cannot think like a corporate executive or employee when your running a business. Here are three mindset changes that you need to make right now:
Don’t think sequentially. Don’t do A then B then C. You need to “move fast and break things” as Mark Zuckerberg famously said. Try multiple things simultaneously and do it quickly. An entrepreneur does not have the luxury of time.
You’re the boss now. If you’ve not done so already give yourself the title of CEO and take action! You don’t need to wait for anyone’s approval. Don’t stand in your own way. Make the necessary decisions and get on with it.
You cannot act or think like a victim. Look, this path is hard, and you’ll have many painful setbacks. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself for a few days when setbacks happen. But after that you need to get back up and shake off the blues. Never ever let the negativity linger. You might not be able to control circumstances, but you can control how you will react to them.