Whenever I talk to successful entrepreneurs, I like to hear the origination story. Why did you start the company? What lessons have you learned along the way? Any near death experiences or crazy things you had to do to make it succeed? That last question is especially interesting in that it almost always reveals incredibly difficult times entrepreneurs have to go through before achieving success. Part of it is grinding it out, part is making personal sacrifices, and part is doing whatever it takes to make things work.
I like to call these collective traits the entrepreneurial killer instinct. Here are a few questions to potentially discern the killer instinct:
How many companies have you started that didn’t work out? What happened to them?
What personal sacrifices did you make to help the business succeed?
What are you willing to do to make this new startup successful?
If you have been following entrepreneurship, starting a new business, or developing new products recently, you may have come across the term Lean Startup. Lean startup is transforming the Entrepreneur Space, and revolutionizing how businesses were built in the past five decades.
Lean Startup; What is It?
In 2011, Eric Ries created the lean startup concept as an alternative approach for entrepreneurs and corporate organizations to start new businesses and launch products faster. The concept was designed to ensure that entrepreneurs are able to launch new products and services that meet customer’s needs and wants. Lean Startup is a radical departure from traditional business-building approach, which leaned heavily on business plan.
As you may know already, MBA schools popularized business plan as a prominent tool for starting new businesses and launching new products. For more than five decades, everyone believed that to be the best route to start a new business or launch a product until recently. This conventional approach made us to believe that anyone can start a business with just an idea, then a business plan, a pitch to investors for finance, find a team to create and sell the product, and off to the market to sell the product or service. That was the trends for many years, and the result over those past years has been fatal loss for most entrepreneurs and small business owners. What we have now learned over these years is that business plan is not relevant for startups and new product development.
Why Startup Businesses Fail
According to recent study by Harvard Business School’s Shikhar Ghosh, 75% of all startups fail. This means that only 25% of new businesses and products manage to survive. The question everybody asks, which I will answer in this post is “Why does a staggering 75% of all startup businesses fail?”
Here’s the key. In the past, entrepreneurs were deceived to build businesses by writing up business plans straight from their ideas. So as soon as a business idea drops in their head, the spend several weeks or months writing a compelling business plan. With their business plan to hand, they are off to investors pitching for money. Whoever finds favour with an investor begins to develop his or her product or service with their team without saying a word to the customer until they complete what they are building. Many entrepreneurs were taught along the way to fixate too much on idea and passion as the two most important ingredients for business success. So they “passionately” build the product with no input from the customer and go straight to the market to sell. For great majority of entrepreneurs, this is the exit point for them. While trying too hard to sell what they build, suddenly the golden light bulb lights…. sadly the customer does not like what they invested enormous amount of time, effort and money to build.
The important lesson we learned after many years of watching several startups and new products fail is this:
Startup Businesses fail not because their founders did not build what they had in mind, but because they built what no one in the market wanted to buy.
Why Lean Startup Culture?
A lean startup culture is a combination of habits, thinking, behaviour and approach that entrepreneurs and business executives adopt in starting new businesses, and launching new products and services faster without wasting time or money. Unlike the traditional approach of building business, Lean Startup Culture relies heavily on ‘Customer Insights’ as a crucial factor for providing invaluable solutions that meet their wants and needs.
The lean start-up culture concepts suggest that rather than wasting time, money and effort building what the customer does not want, start-up founders and corporate organizations should fixate on creating, testing, iterating and pivoting hypotheses to first find a fit for their product or service in the market, and ensure that customers will pay for them.
For this to become a reality, smart entrepreneurs and corporate organizations need to embrace a new culture – the Lean Culture. Lean culture leverages comprehensive proven concepts and tools to develop business models and create Minimum Viable Product (MVP). While business model aims to commercialize founder’s ideas, MVP translates ideas into prototypes with sufficient features which customers can pay for or use in exchange for feedback. Feedback is an important lean culture approach used to improve (iterate) the MVP already produced, or pivot (make major changes on) the business model.
In a nutshell, a lean culture approach to starting a business or developing new products involves to:
Find an idea,
Form hypotheses and build a lean business model,
Create MVP, test and validate hypotheses with customers, and
Improve features based on feedback; if not, then pivot hypotheses
Lean culture eliminates waste, reduces product cycle and facilitates building of products or services that meet customer needs and wants. Lean startup culture raises the odds of success for entrepreneurs and corporate organizations. This is the way forward for smart entrepreneurs.
Nkem Mpamah is President and Founder of Cognition Global Concepts Limited Cambridge. Nkem helps ambitious entrepreneurs and business executives to double productivity and profits. He is Creator of The EntreCoach™ Program, a comprehensive Lean Business Coaching Tool for multiplying producitivity and profit.
Quite often, our assessment of people’s behaviour and performance at work is based on perception. To a greater extent, perception which is mere guesswork is subjective and can be prone to error. In a work environment with people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, training and cultural connotation, it is important for business leaders to make effort to understand the key motivators of people they work with.
How can you delegate effectively if you do not know what your team is great at? How can you ensure that key members of your team are able to communicate effectively, collaborate, and achieve common goals if you do not understand each individual’s key motivator and assign appropriate roles to him or her?
Achieving high performance result is important for sustaining productivity and profits in any business or organisation. But to understand what drives high performance in a team framework is much more important, and DISC Personality Style Reporting system has proven to be a global tool for helping business leaders and chief executives to learn team’s behaviours and align them with appropriate roles within their organisations. Discover your team’s best ability and tap in their innate resources to enhance performance.
If you’d like to learn more about DISC and how you can improve engagement and performance in your organisation, contact the team at Cognition Global Concepts, a leading international firm in leadership and high performance team development.
The art of building a successful business is the desire of every entrepreneur. No one wants to fail in business, but only very few business owners are prepared to pay the price of building a successful business. The question is, what does it take to succeed in business?
Well, as you will soon discover, the anwer is; not a lot! While many people are continuously growing business as a matter of life or death, in my personal opinion and experience, growing a successful business is quite simple. That said, let me add also that simplicity is not to say that the process is going to be easy. Notwithstanding, if you understand and apply the very simple steps of the process, I bet you will succeed against the odds. In this post, I am going to give you three simple steps, or what you can call strategies used by successful entrepreneurs to grow their businesses faster.
You know, as creator of The EntreCoach™ Program; a comprehensive business growth support system that leverages small business coaching tools and proven concepts designed for ambitious entrepreneurs to grow their businesses 10x faster, I have no doubt in the efficacy of the strategies I’m about to share with you, and there is no risk whatsoever if you choose to apply them to grow your business.
1. Be aware of where you are right now
Before you start to grow your business, it is critical to understand where you are starting from. This doesn’t make sense to a lot of people who claim to understand the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of their business, when infact they do not. To grow your business, you need to be aware of the resources at your disposal as well as the limitations you’re struggling with presently. The result of your awareness will give you a realistic picture of how much you might want to grow by, and any additional resources you’d need to achieve your growth.
2. Determine how much you want to grow by
Every entrepreneur I have come across want to grow. But the challenge is that only a few of them are actually willing to sit down and articulate the extent of growth they want, and when they want to achieve the growth by. In the The EntreCoach™Program for example, there are hundred of results-focused business coaching tools such as the Roadmap™ and many more, which our clients use in projecting their three years growth. The tool shows at a glance, the key areas you’d like to see growth in your business over the next three years. This might include ‘quality’ of clients, profitability, number of employees, product/service segmentation, new markets, number of free time, and many more.
3. Apply disciplined execution
Execution is the the most powerful of all strategies that drive result in any business. If you do not take action on agreed plan, you would succeed only in sentencing your business to a few more years of struggle. In order to execute effectively, you need to be clear about what to do really well. In the EntreCoach™ program, we have a powerful business coaching tool which we refer to as Key Breakthrough Actions (KBAs). KBA is used to identify the five most important actions, which our clients are bound to execute over the next 90 days in order to see the results they seek.
As you can imagine, implementing above three business growth strategies can be quite simple; aren’t they? When combined with few more strategies which time will not permit me to share on this page, you are guaranteed an accelerated business growth.
Few weeks ago, I wrote you about the three things, business executives do well to attract, nurture and retain best talents. I also share some tips about it is important to make talent acquisition a key strategic objective in your organisation. I hope you found them useful?
Today, I’ll be sharing another important aspect of developing a high performance team, which business owners and executives do not often take seriously.
As I said in my earlier post, the success of every business is tied directly to the quality of people such business attract and to work for them. This means that it is not sufficient to only attract good talents, successful business leaders take steps further to nurture and retain them.
In this post, I have listed summarised version of the 3 essential leadership development habits that are super useful for leading and managing a high performance team.
If you’d like to read the full version of this post and and perhaps share with your team, go here.
1. Nurture Vision and Core Values
Your vision and core values are essential for helping your team understand where you are headed. To not inform them means keeping them in the dark, which might mean for them to start looking out.
2. Adopt Knowledge-Worker perspective
A high-performingteam is a knowledge worker. Knowledge workers do things their own way and needs special leadership skill to manage. To manage them can be quite challenging for control-freak leaders, who are used to telling people what to do.
3. Demonstrate credibility
In Kouzes & Posner research that took 25 years and involving hundreds of thousand people in six continents, respondents voted to follow a leader who is credible. Credibility in order words means honesty and transparency. It therefore means that high performance people are looking for a leader who will tell them the truth and be able to do what they say they would.
In conclusion, it is important for business owners and corporate executives to recognize that in the present information age, high performance talents have so much information at their disposal that helps them become more effective. That said, they also have lots of choices part of which includes ability to choose where to go and be relevant.
“Nkem Paul is founder and President of Cognition Global Concepts Cambridge, an international firm that helps entrepreneurs and business organisations develop high performance leadership capabilities that grow businesses 10x.”
To build a high performance team is probably the number one success strategy for growing any profitable business. Regardless of sector, industry or location, high performance teambuilding will continue to play a key role in business growth many years to come. Unfortunately though, many entrepreneurs and business leaders do not quite understand this simple but powerful business principle.
As executive business coach with specialization for working with entrepreneurs, I understand how some entrepreneurs think about time and why some of them don’t get along well with it. For many, there is a strong mindset about time as always running out too quickly that they never had enough to go around in any given 24-hour day.
The concerns around time management are quite fascinating because almost everyone claims to know how to manage his or her time well. Regardless this claim and proliferation of time management techniques and tools in the marketplace, time crisis has constantly been a big concern to many entrepreneurs from reaching their goals.
In my opinion, the number one cause of crisis with time is complexity from doing “stuff.” This can be anything from inability to identify what you want, to the attitude of focusing and actually doing all the avoidable things that overwhelms.
Particularly for entrepreneurs, there seems to be an increasing urge to get involved in every activity of the business. This mindset often drives entrepreneurs away from their main focus to the mode that makes them unproductive, reactive and constantly putting out fire.
How to increase entrepreneur’s productivity through time management
Since entrepreneur’s time is hugely affected by complexities around them; the first step towards empowering them to take control of their time is by simplifying the process of doing things so that they can focus on doing only the aspects of work they love and enjoy the most. Until the entrepreneur’s day is structured in such a way that puts him or her in absolute control, their efforts would barely hit the required goal.
With the EntreCoach™ Cambridge Program, a comprehensive support system that provides exclusive business coaching tools for ambitious entrepreneurs to grow their businesses 10x, time management concerns are addressed by structuring an entire week, month or year into three simple unique days. Each day brings a new opportunity for the entrepreneur to complete a unique task that not only doubles his outcomes but also gives him or her the feeling of satisfaction of accomplishment, because they’re doing the aspect of work they love and enjoy.
For example, a typical entrepreneurial time system originally formed by Dan Sullivan and now modified, comprises of:
Day 1 – Open Days
An Open Day is any day that begins from midnight to the next midnight, where no business related activity of any kind, including making or receiving business calls, checking emails, attending business meetings or meeting with employees would be done except on a true emergency situation. The value of a typical Open Day lies in the value of rest you – the entrepreneur is able to take so you can rejuvenate and return to business refreshed, able to think creatively and execute effectively.
Day 2 – Vision Days
A vision day is the day set aside to work on your Unique Strengths that give you the most pleasure and reward both personally, financially and professionally. Unique Strength can be defined as the talent or key motivation that inspires you to see work as having fun. A vision day may not be the same for everyone, but generally speaking, they are days you invest about 80% of your time doing the work that brings money into the business. It could range from executing tasks such as one-on-one or group business coaching to clients, designing client’s website, having a speaking engagement, writing a book, or developing a new product. For others, It might be making a sales call or writing a proposal.
Day 3 – Clean Up Days
As the name implies, a clean up day is a day to clean up all the messes and clutters around you. The primary motive is to get everything that sabotages your ability to remain focused on your Vision Days out of the way. Clean Up Day’s activities range from reading, replying or deleting backlog of emails, emptying the drawers or wardrobes, and decluttering your workspace, learning new skills, or meeting with team members. Assuming you were in the business of public speaking or coaching, your Clean Up Day could be used to rehearse your speech, develop PowerPoint presentation slides, or review your coaching tools. It could also be a day for attending network meeting, interviewing new employees, or negotiating JV partnership with prospective partners.
There’s no doubt the subject of time management is popular among entrepreneurs; nevertheless, from my perspective as a successful entrepreneur and experienced business coach to many successful entrepreneurs, I have found it most effective to deal with time management issue through the application of unique business coaching tools such as described in this post.
Nkem Paul helps entrepreneurs to double productivity and revenue in a build Self-Sustaining Enterprises by offering exclusive business coaching and entrepreneur coaching tools and concepts from The EntreCoach™ Cambridge Program. He’s founder and CEO of Cognition Global Concepts and Creator of The EntreCoach™ Program.