Do You Have What It Takes To Build A Thriving Company?
by Ron Ameln
Sooner or later, just about everyone who works for someone else is tempted to dump the corporate rat race and make a go of it alone. Why not? As a nation of people who have been raised on the notion of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, we worship the idea of the self-made man or woman. Startup stars like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick or Southwest Airlines’ Herb Kelleher are more than just role models—they’re entrepreneurial heroes.
Do you have what it takes to grow and build an entrepreneurial success? According to Michael Glauser, author of “Glorious Accidents—How Everyday Americans Create Thriving Companies,” entrepreneurship isn’t something you are just born with. In fact, Glauser believes any entrepreneur can learn to be better and more successful.
Glauser found out firsthand what it takes to build an entrepreneurial success when he spent three years crisscrossing the country interviewing the nation’s top entrepreneurs for his book.
His research uncovered 10 keys that successful entrepreneurs use time and again to build thriving organizations. “I believe if businesses follow these 10 steps, they will significantly increase their chances of success,” Glauser said.
1. Know The Terrain
“Entrepreneurs listen to customers and gain feedback,” he said. “This is how they discover great ideas.”
While bureaucratic corporate leaders can be found barricaded in ivory towers, far removed from customers, entrepreneurs can often be found meeting and interacting with customers.
“Successful entrepreneurs are not tied up in an ivory tower,” he said. “They are out in the field finding out what customers really want and need.”
2. Seize The Opportunity
Savvy business owners continuously look for opportunities, both inside and outside the organization.
“As you listen to your customers, you will see opportunities present themselves,” Glauser said. “Successful entrepreneurs are constantly listening and searching for new opportunities, and they are not afraid to dump old products and move on to new ones.”
3. Find A Mentor
“When I interviewed these successful entrepreneurs, they all had mentors,” he said. “Most said if they didn’t have their mentors, they wouldn’t have grown their businesses.”
Mentors can jump-start an entrepreneur’s knowledge level, link him or her up with new contacts, offer feedback on ideas, plans and strategies and even provide help in raising capital.
4. Build The Team
“Some believe successful entrepreneurs are mavericks—out there creating these businesses on their own,” he said. “That just isn’t true. If you want to hold on to everything and do it all yourself, you’re going to go way too slow to compete.”
Savvy entrepreneurs bring people whom are smarter and more skilled than they are into the organization. They then create incentives to keep them. “The best entrepreneurs are clearly team builders.”
5. Give Something Back
“Successful business owners are very involved in charity organizations and the community,” he said. “What this does is endear the community to them.
“What motivates these companies is the idea of helping others. This often ends up being a business strategy. The community basically says, ‘You support us, we will support you.’”
6. Work With Tenacity
Successful entrepreneurs are willing to work hard and to do everything themselves, especially early on, with little money or fanfare.
“High achieving entrepreneurs have an attitude of action rather than reaction,” he said. “They know they have the power to make something happen. It’s a certain attitude and it drives them.
“When they see a problem or a challenge, they are like bulldogs—they grab on and won’t let go until the problem is solved.”
7. Notch It Upward And Onward
Savvy business leaders aren’t afraid to be something bigger and bolder. Notching it upward means expanding your existing core services and businesses. Notching it onward means moving into new opportunities and new business areas. Both are critical to long-term success.
Said Glauser, “If you’re not willing to change and continue to grow, you won’t survive.”
8. Radiate Zeal
Success belongs to people with passion. Zeal sustains entrepreneurs during the ups and downs. It becomes contagious, rubbing off on employees and customers.
“You can’t ignite others unless you are on fire yourself,” he said. “Zeal is what wins accounts.”
9. Give Mind-Boggling Service
“All you need is a customer that loves you to have a business,” Glauser said. “You get that by offering your customers more than the competition. You really have to give them more than what they expect.”
When you deliver legendary customer service, customers will rave about your company and become tremendously loyal.
10. Get More From Less
Successful entrepreneurs squeeze the most out of available resources, solving problems and achieving objectives as efficiently as possible.
“Most organizations spend money as a matter of habit,” he said. “Not successful entrepreneurs.” Because so many of them began with little money, entrepreneurs have discovered how to get things done without money—through renting, bartering, partnering, etc.
“They are lean and mean,” Glauser said. “When push comes to shove, these entrepreneurs can come up with better ways to do things.”
Glauser believes these 10 keys can help anyone, from employees hoping to improve their skills to entrepreneurs hoping to become the next Gates or Kelleher.
“More and more entrepreneurs are implementing these skills,” he said. “Entrepreneurship is the leadership model of the future. If you are not practicing these skills, I think you will have a tough time succeeding.”