5 Lessons I Learned While Building My Business That Made Me a Better Leader

How I Learned to Overcome My Ego–and Built a Successful Business Along the Way

5 Lessons I Learned While Building My Business That Made Me a Better Leader

Staff Writer

I didn’t grow up in an environment where people thought about business or entrepreneurship. It wasn’t until I was at Tulane that I realized that many business leadershave a “path” already set for them.

All of a sudden, when I was a senior, my friends (some of whom were either complete crackheads or generally weren’t the sharpest tools, to put mildly) had jobs at the largest bulge investment banks or even private equity. How was that possible?

I developed a bit of a chip on my shoulder about this, so, through the years, I had to overcome that–plus, a lot of ego and underlying insecurities that I didn’t really know what I was doing (I still don’t, but at least the ego is gone. A little). Seriously though, once I learned to let it go, out went my fear of failure and I learned what makes a founder truly successful.

Don’t Take Yourself so Seriously

Attitude is everything. You raised a series C? Sold a business once or twice? Congrats, but no one cares. This happens every day. Don’t be a jerk and think you’re the only one at the top of your game.

You can always tell who is the most successful person in the room as they are typically the most humble (and the worst dressed). On the flip side, know that you’re not the only one frustrated by fundraising, dealing with annoying investors, or stressed about the business.

We all have these challenges; share and learn from others; don’t complain and think you’re better than it. Have fun with this crazy venture world we live in.

Be Someone People Want to Work With

The team and a sizable total addressable market (“TAM”) are the two most critical boxes an investor is checking. They care about TAM because if you have a great team, but a small market size, these all-stars will just be fighting uphill in a small box.

If it’s a huge market, even a knucklehead like me can start a $1b business. When investors look at the team, they’re primarily thinking, “Is this person going to be outside smoking $100 bills of my money?” and “Who is this person?” and “Can they execute?”

Deals are made all the time based on the simple fact of whether or not someone likes you and if they think you give off a perception that you can actually get things done. That there’s a team in front of them who can execute. Pro tip: If you’re building a software company, it’s a pretty good idea to have people involved who can actually build the software (#JustSayin).

Remember, It’s Not about You…

It’s about the team, what you are all trying to accomplish, and the shareholders you are returning value for. As I’ve said, every founder can be fired at any moment, so try to separate yourself from the emotions of being a founder (yes, I know it’s your baby–but now, it’s also 20 other people’s stepchild).

If everyone disagrees with you on a decision, don’t go on a tirade that you’re the founder and you know best and overrule everyone else. Figure out why they have a different opinion. What are they seeing that you’re not?

The best founders know their blind spots and hire people to fill them who have different perspectives and backgrounds. If it’s your first business and you’ve never made people money, add advisors to your deck that people know who will provide the execution support. For instance, if you’re starting a cloud based point of sale company focused on retail, get the President of Coach to join your advisory board at the seed stage.

Don’t Get Defensive

Don’t be crazy or defensive when you meet with investors. Have zero ego. “Wow, that’s such a great question, thank you for asking” is a response to the stupidest question you’ve ever heard from a person who hasn’t been paying attention to your pitch.

Always be delightful and positive. It’s about getting a term sheet and getting the company funded–it’s not about you.

Remember, sometimes, you get asked stupid questions as a test–keep your cool and respond in the best way that you can. Reputation matters and you want to be known as a person people should be giving money to.

Build Real Relationships

I don’t go to tech conferences or meetups because I’m trying to find someone to invest in my new idea. Or to discover the next gotta-hire developer. I go because I’m actually interested in technology, innovation, entrepreneurship and I love to meet new people and hear about what they’re working on.

Here’s what makes me tick: sharing advice, learning from each other, and building quality friendships. It’s not the Hunger Games out there (though plenty of fools think it is). Be real and have a conversation because you’re interested in the conversation–not because where the conversation could lead.

Read Next


Latest

Dubai offers incentives for EV owners

Here’s How Dubai Plans To Put 40k Electric Cars On Its Roads

Dubai has announced a host of incentives worth millions of dirhams with a goal of having approximately 42,000 electric vehicles on the emirate’s streets by 2030. Primarily led by the Dubai Electricity and... (contd.)
Saudi Arabia to come out with bankruptcy law

After UAE, Saudi Arabia To Come Out With A Bankruptcy Law

Almost a year after the UAE came out with its bankruptcy law, a senior Saudi Arabian government official has revealed that the country will also begin implementing a new bankruptcy law as... (contd.)
Focus on shared values

You Can’t Change Fundamental Behaviors Without Changing Fundamental Beliefs

In 2006, Blockbuster Video launched Total Access, a service that allowed its customers to rent videos online and return them to stores. The strategy was an immediate hit with customers and before long... (contd.)
Anything to blow their minds and make them feel special.

This Entrepreneur Has A Brilliant System for Retaining Existing Clients

Draye Redfern is a 28-year-old entrepreneur, health nut, and adrenaline junkie from Austin, Texas. Draye is an expert who helps improve individual's and organization's marketing, management and customers engagement.Draye has spoken at high level events, such as the... (contd.)
Intelligence helps, but it's not what lets Musk rise to the top (and stay there).

According to the SpaceX Co-Founder, This Is Why Elon Musk Is Wildly Successful

With businesses that focus on clean energy, electric, self-driving cars and launching into outer space, Elon Musk is on the innovation scoreboard in a big way, and often leading it. But according to a Quora response from... (contd.)
- Advertisement -
Join Our Daily Newsletter
Sign up to get all the business news and intelligence that matters straight to your mailbox.
Join Our Newsletter !
Like This Article? Subscribe To Our Newsletter To Receive More Of Them Straight In Your Inbox
Contact Us.
Your Name
Email
Message
     
Thank you for your interest in Inc. Arabia. Please leave your contact details below, and we'll be in touch with you very soon.
Like This Article? Subscribe To Our Newsletter To Receive More Of Them Straight In Your Inbox