As a group, entrepreneurs face common challenges. Fortunately, they also share personal traits that can help them overcome these challenges with skill and confidence.
This is the consensus of Professor Ed Hess, who studied 54 entrepreneurial companies in 23 states across the country to write, Growing an Entrepreneurial Business: Concepts & Cases.
Hess, who teaches at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business, found that entrepreneurs deal with a plethora of business, personnel and time management challenges. Now the subject of an MBA course, Hess's book teems with practical advice on how entrepreneurs can rally their best qualities and skills to deal with these five top challenges:
Entrepreneurs can harness fear and trepidation about growth by being self-aware, flexible and visionary. Growth represents change, Hess says, and change can be risky. He found that the most successful entrepreneurs drive their business by invoking the “gas pedal approach,” or easing up on the gas to give processes and people time to catch up.
Entrepreneurs should muster fortitude, discipline and resilience in learning when to say “No”—a “dirty” word that didn't surface very often in the early days of launching their business. So accustomed to saying “yes” to virtually every proposition, entrepreneurs who can change this knee-jerk reaction pick up an added dividend: greater confidence in their judgment.
Ironically, many of the very same traits that fuel many entrepreneurs also conspire to undermine their best efforts to effectively delegate. Many entrepreneurs dislike the feeling of giving up control, but those who learn to rely on others not only free up their time but develop greater focus and a keener ability to establish priorities. Effective delegation means not only passing off tasks, but placing them in the competent hands of people who wish to contribute to and grow with a company.
It's been said that “anyone can be a boss,” but few people are destined to become leaders. Entrepreneurs must display all the hallmarks of emotional intelligence to segue from being an owner to a leader—namely, self-awareness, passion, tenacity and a quest for self-improvement. Fundamentally, people turn to leaders to tell them not only what to do, but to show them, by good example, how to accomplish goals and objectives.
Patience might not be their strong suit, but entrepreneurs must merge this trait with their natural perseverance and problem-solving skills to learn how to make smart hiring decisions. The commonalities that Hess found among entrepreneurs who mastered the hiring process: hire against a competency “scorecard” and lean toward a fit with corporate culture; conduct multiple interviews; ask several people to interview job candidates; hire on a trial basis; designate mentors for new employees; develop a good initiation process; and encourage valued employees to make hiring referrals.
To learn more about this fascinating topic, read The Executives Guide to Transformational vs. Transactional Leadership, courtesy of Envision Global Leadership.