Written by Multiple Authors
The word entrepreneur is an easy term to throw around. But title alone doesn’t grant anyone the leadership skills needed to take a vision and bring it to life. All great entrepreneurs are first and foremost great leaders. After pouring over responses from over eight months of interviewing, the Upstream Staff isolated four key principles practiced by the incredible individuals that we have had the privilege of talking to. We hope they are of help.
Focus on the Present. Worrying about the future is easy. Easier still is measuring your own worth by your ability to conjure up another vague, unrealized new idea. But pulling off a Jobsian “dent in the universe” requires more than worries, big plans, or even really good ideas. It requires a thoughtful amount of focus on the tasks and the people in your immediate space. Be as engaged with the immediate and the mundane as you are with the bigger picture. You will inspire others to do the same. When people are focused on the present, they care about it more. That’s what generates the future.
Trust your Projects. When you have an established plan of action, stick to it! Make adjustments along the way, but don’t lose faith in your vision. Understand the pressures you feel so you can respond to them in positive ways. Make the desire to succeed trump the fear of failure. Also recognize that everyone in business needs to eventually make money. Trust that the investors and customers you seek will value your project. You are creating something new. Believe the words, “Build it, and they will come.”
Change your Routines. Plans change. Needs change. Opportunities change. You won’t be aware of those changes if you are doing the same things every day. Resist the urge to retreat into the comfort zone of a strict routine. Stay connected to the many processes and people working to animate your vision. Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin, makes a huge effort to break his routine. He personally meets with employees, and even occasionally does the daily work of flight attendants on his airline. Great leaders learn how to delegate by taking the time to reach out to others and understand their views. Be sure to go out and meet people on their own terms. As your business grows, it’s the only way to stay connected.
Give something Back. When people support your goals, reciprocate with more than just a paycheck. Generate gratitude and confidence among the people that you are leading. Do tangible things that inspire gratitude. Be a leader that provides opportunities for everyone on your team to contribute something unique. In the early days of Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg set up weekly all-night work parties where coders were asked to work on a project outside of their normal work duties. The parties generated some of Facebook’s most successful innovations to date. Appreciate what is outside of yourself, and people will respond with the drive and the commitment to move you and your company forward.