Leadership and Entrepreneurship

by Judy Seil
I have met many entrepreneurs during my years in the private and public sector of banking and finance.  From these experiences, I’ve learned that the most critical skill necessary to becoming a successful entrepreneur is being an effective leader.  It is easy to have the big idea, but to take the product to market, you need to surround yourself with people smarter than you and be a supportive leader at the same time.

From my experience, there are several critical steps required when going from idea to market.  Notice all of these steps require you to be a leader and learn from the expertise of others.  The critical steps are:

  • Find the financing
  • Find key personnel
  • Remember it is not about you, it is about forming a team
  • Reward your team.  In the beginning cash may be tight, but there are other ways to reward your team, including stock options, gift certificates, time off with pay, or a simple “thank you!”
  • Listen and learn from your employees
  • Listen and learn from yours supporters, including your banker, accountant, and attorney.
  • Listen and learn from your customers; they are your greatest source of constructive criticism.

Notice, three of these steps include listening! Entrepreneurs who don’t listen will never be effective leaders.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “The best executive is the one who has sense to pick men (or women) to do what he (or she) wants done and use self restraint from meddling with them while they do it.”

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Comments (1)

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  1. I agree. The team is the most important first effort a founder(s) can do to ensure success. What many entrepreneurs miss is that a team is not a random collection of individuals, the team members have to make sense in sphere of the organziation. I once had a CEO promote his administrative assistant to Director of Customer Relations just to give the appearance of a seasoned team member – it didn’t fool any potential investors! Founders need to make a conscious effort to build an effective team, which is not as easy as it sounds. It’s difficult to convince people to join a new start-up. Second, the founders need to develop and foster the team. One of the big mistakes I see is the founder who assembles a great team but won’t let go. The founder micro-manages the team and team becomes a collection of assistants instead of free thinking individuals with a common purpose. These founders beleive CEO stands for Chief Everything Officer.

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