On one hand, being part of a startup is exciting and cool — the feelings you get when you are part of a trend. On the other hand, few entrepreneurs want anything less than success, so you are probably eagerly looking forward to the time when your startup transitions to a fully fledged small business.
However, startups don’t become stable small businesses without work. Specifically, you must be able to transition from an entrepreneur to a business leader. Though these roles share many responsibilities, there are some habits and traits that differentiate the best leaders from the best entrepreneurs. If you want to survive the evolution from startup to small business, you need to:
Have a Clear-Cut Vision
Plenty of entrepreneurs dismiss having vision as daydreaming or living outside reality, but in truth developing a vision is a good way to create a guide for your startup. The quality of your vision matters. For example, if your vision shifts from day-to-day or if your vision doesn’t elucidate goals and values, it is essentially worthless. Your vision should be clear and focused — and you should be able to make it clear and focused to others, as well.
If you are having trouble collecting your ideas and ambitions into a single, clear vision, you might need to put your small-business dreams on hold. Instead of steering a startup toward the unknown, you should gain experience and education in business management, which might mean considering enrolling in MBA online programs. In the process of acquiring an advanced business degree, you should attain insight into possible routes for your business — thereby developing a strong, practical vision.
This one should be obvious: To lead any group of people — be it your startup staff to small-business success or your family through a tough day — you need to be able to communicate well. Because startups are relatively intimate business endeavors, effective communication is especially important. You should be able to express ideas and intentions to your staff, your board, your investors, and anyone else with a stake in your business’ success, such as your spouse.
Contrary to what you might believe, good communication is not an inborn skill. You can improve your ability to communicate today by practicing the following habits:
- Listen more than you speak
- Put down distractions, like phones and computers
- Be aware of body language, like eye contact and arm position
- Have icebreakers and small-talk starters ready
- Remember your audience
Commit to Your Business
Starting a business is fun; running a business is work. If you want to earn the adjective “successful” and establish a strong, stable small business, you need to commit to the business you already have. If you don’t exercise commitment and willpower, you could soon turn into a serial entrepreneur who has several poorly functioning startups to his or her name. Until you are confident that your staff can handle daily responsibilities — that is, until you are certain your startup has graduated to a small business — you should avoid pursuing other ventures.
Be Honest in Your Evaluations
After confidence, honesty is perhaps the most important quality for a business leader. If you reach even moderate success, several lives will depend on your business decisions. Therefore, it is imperative that you are honest with yourself and with others in all regards. Your staff, your board, your investors, and your family have a right to know when business is going well or poorly. Similarly, they should know what you are doing to reach success and what they can do to ensure it.
If for no other reason, you should be honest to improve your startup’s brand. In modern markets, most people are adept at sniffing out inauthenticity. By being open and sincere, you establish a culture of honesty that forms the foundation of your brand.
Take Care of Yourself
Finally, successful entrepreneurs tend to be good at self-maintenance. Though your startup will make your life somewhat uncomfortable until you reach success or at least stability, depriving yourself of loved ones or healthy food and exercise will not ease your discomfort — such action will only compound it. Though it might seem counter-intuitive, the only way you can ensure your startup succeeds is to give yourself time to relax. Then, your mind and body will be ready for the hard challenges ahead.