All entrepreneurs get lost in the details of the business, but that approach is not scalable.
Having a CEO performing CEO duties is crucial to the health of the company.
By focusing on the big picture, entrepreneurs can more effectively identify what they want to accomplish and how to go about it.
All entrepreneurs have probably heard the well-worn advice “Work on your business, not in it.” It sounds like just another corporate cliché, but it’s a necessary caution because any entrepreneur is in danger of getting sucked into nitty-gritty employee work instead of assuming the big-picture CEO role. Take it from me.
There was a time when my inbox overflowed with questions and a steady stream of people visited my office looking for help. I had trained my people to come to me when they had problems because I feared what would happen if I wasn’t involved in every detail of the business.
For entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get stuck trying to fill every role at once: The company may need its founder to manage day-to-day tasks in the early phases of its development, but there comes a point when that founder needs to be more of a captain and less of a sailor. Studies increasingly show that companies where founders assume and continue to play the CEO role perform more innovatively and profitably over time.
Their transition into full-time leadership requires trusting the employees they’ve hired to execute defined duties that contribute to the long-term health of the company. These are people with skills and expertise who know the expectations of their roles and how to go about getting their jobs done.
When a leader instead operates by simply giving his or her team all the answers – what I call leadership through expertise – it’s often about
One of the most amazing things I’ve experienced over the last few years is the ever-increasing rise in how much we as entrepreneurs depend on data. It seems that I can now track almost every metric imaginable, which helps me get a better pulse on how things are going for my business.
But while this offers many opportunities for me and other entrepreneurs, getting the most out of our data isn’t always easy. After all, if you have too much data and don’t know how to use it, you’re really not much better off than if you didn’t have any data at all.
The good news is that new technologies and opportunities continue to spring up in the realm of data. These trends can make a meaningful difference for all entrepreneurs, regardless of industry. By taking advantage of some of the data trends on the horizon, you’ll be able to set your business up for success in 2020 and beyond.
1. Automation and AI become even more commonplace.
AI already plays a key role in many industries by helping businesses cut costs associated with mundane tasks. The collection and analysis of data is no different.
Because I work with e-commerce, I’ve seen firsthand just how time-consuming manual data entry can become. It’s also all too easy to type in the wrong numbers when inputting data yourself. A minor typo may not seem like a big deal, but for e-commerce brands, it could mean not ordering enough stock and missing out on sales opportunities because you miscalculated demand for a particular product.
More and more businesses are linking their systems to software programs that automatically upload, record and organize data from various sources, such as website sales or warehouse information.
Automated data capture ultimately allows businesses to become more efficient by
Everyone’s attended a class where their primary responsibility was to memorize and learn facts. As long as you remembered all the facts and you could prove it – for example, during a test – you passed the class, but you may not have fully understood what you memorized. You most likely failed to retain most of the new information.
Mind mapping, however, is a better way of absorbing knowledge. You can use it for anything from creating a plan for developing a healthy habit to fleshing out a pivotal business idea. It involves building on ideas that you already know and comprehend so that you can absorb new concepts with a real understanding and better retention.
What is mind mapping?
A mind map can help you learn a large, unfamiliar body of concepts. It’s a technique that involves using both the left and right sides of your brain to absorb new ideas. The visual aid created during a mind-mapping exercise can help you to organize new information as it correlates to a new central concept. Once you establish a new central concept, you can build out your mind map with branches of related sub-concepts.
Eventually, you’ll create a hierarchy that shows the relationship between a concept that you already understand and the new one. Mind mapping works because it takes advantage of the natural cortical skills used to process and absorb new information.
Mind mapping can help with retention and learning
Mind mapping enables meaningful learning, which occurs when you retain new knowledge by connecting it to existing knowledge. Mind mapping forces your brain to make the connections between what you know and what you’ve just learned. Learners make this connection by mapping discrete pieces of information around a central theme.
Historically, the Romans used the loci visualization technique to
Many of the decisions made in your business are going to be wrong, regardless of who makes them or how long they cogitate before they do so. Nobody gets it right all the time and we all learn from our mistakes.
That’s is because, in many organizations, it is the bosses who make all the important decisions. Other people are afraid of what will happen if, or when, they make a mistake. In a hierarchical organization, it is often risky to be seen to carry the can for something that looks like the wrong choice, and nobody wants to be in the wrong.
Hierarchical companies conform to the idea that the best decision-makers are the most senior people in the business. This is because people see that business leaders may have the most experience and the greatest depth of knowledge. In these traditionally-structured businesses too, they may be the only ones who have visibility of all the information, such as the financial data and statistics about how the company is doing and growing. They also may be the only ones who really understand the vision for where they want it to get to. Therefore, they are the ones making the decisions.
This is what many people expect, it is the way things have tended to happen in the past. Structuring the company like this probably works fine when the company is made up of three people and a dog, all sharing the same office space. It may also work well for a company that is not growing, in a marketplace where there is little prospect of disruption or rapid change. For instance, picture the Ministry of Dog Licenses in a small imaginary country with a static population and a stable government.
Military veterans are almost twice as likely to become entrepreneurs as non-veterans are. As one of top organizations in the U.S. for producing business owners, the military has a strong track record of teaching valuable lessons that are crucial to owning and operating a successful business and helping veterans succeed after service.
In fact, there are many programs and financial resources specifically for veterans looking to start a business. Some quick online research will turn up a handful of small business loans and grants, as well as excellent entrepreneurship programs and experiential training opportunities for veterans to explore. In addition to these resources, I believe veterans should learn from each other’s firsthand experience in business. Sharing experiences and lessons learned is a great way to help a fellow veteran start their own business journey.
As a veteran myself, I can attest that many of us apply lessons from our military service to business. Vetrepreneurs, as veteran entrepreneurs are often called, do things a little bit differently. Veterans have an inherent entrepreneurial spirit. They’re generally quick learners – and hungry to continue learning, which is increasingly important as the shelf life of a skill dips below five years. Perhaps more obviously, veterans tend to be fundamentally loyal, honest and accountable. These characteristics are also the qualities necessary to become a great entrepreneur.
Based on my experience, I believe you learn four key lessons during military service that can help mold an entrepreneurial spirit, and I hope to help veterans start their own business ventures by sharing these insights.
1. Lead from the front.
“Lead from the front” is a military mantra that is easily misapplied throughout business. Leading from the front in business requires many of the same strategies as in the military, such as target acquisition (goal setting), innovation and