Communication is key. As an entrepreneur, you are the leader of your organization, which means you set the tone. That means that every little thing you say will have an effect on your team, whether you realize it or not. The fast pace and intensity of each day leaves little time to worry about your tone of voice, but what you say and how you say it makes all the difference.Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to sharpen your communication skills:
Every entrepreneur faces an overwhelming set of tasks to be accomplished. The list is endless. Strategy. Technology. Team. Business models. Plans. Tactics. Functional areas. Branding. Staﬀ. Money management. Oﬃces. Fundraising. For every ten hours of time, there are one hundred hours of work. Put aside the passion, energy, emotion and pressure and think of all the things that need to get done.
We lose perspective as entrepreneurs. I want to help people recognize this and manage our teams and ourselves through it. We lose sight of the fact that the rest of the world does not wake up with the passion, determination and focus that we do. Something has spurred us to take this wild journey to create our venture. Our heart and soul are in it. Our business life and personal life (if you have one) are intimately intermingled. We think about it twenty-four hours per day and our dreams are not of sipping piña coladas or a relaxing day at the spa, but rather having our first real paying customers. It is unlikely anyone else is losing sleep, shunning their personal lives, or investing their heart and soul.
What happens when we have team members who are not used to the pace or the pressure of an entrepreneurial venture? I'll give you an example:I was driving to a meeting with ADP with one of our female sales reps and we were late. I’ve been known to put the pedal to the metal and we were buzzing through the streets of New Jersey trying to get to there on time. I was also talking on my phone. In the midst of casual conversation with her, she said, “Can you pull over for a second?” She opened the door, stuck her head out the window and threw up. She leaned back in the car with a look of horror on her face. This is when the ridiculousness of an entrepreneurial mind takes over.
For all of us that have become entrepreneurs, we believe that what we're doing is unique. We put our heart and soul into our idea but sometimes our obsession clouds our judgement. Let's say that you are about to start a meatball restaurant, and your friends say to you - "there are already tons of meatball restaurants." Event though that's true, you are likely to say - "but you've never tasted my meatballs."
The day we lose our passion for our idea or business is the day we should stop being an entrepreneur. But that does not mean that our passion can make us blind. When we are under the influence of our passion, we often don't see what is going on around us and reduce our chances of success. The key is to realize that this can happen, and create tools and process to bring more objective points of view to the table.
If we walked into a Board room at Apple and said, "we are going to pursue every market with every product", everyone in the room would laugh and security would escort you out the door.
There are many startup coaches out there that believe that in today's fast paced world, creating a business plan adds no value. After all, chances are that the day you finish it, it will be irrelevant. The market will have moved. Your competitors will have changed. And your basic assumptions will be out the window.
Do we focus on creating a superior product or on superior positioning? While we can never have the product or service we are delivering be deficient, more often than not it is positioning that wins out over the nature of the product. In our cluttered day, it is often hard for a purchasers to have the time to see all the features and functionalities of a product.