How to lead a small startup

Lead your small startup

How to lead a small startup

 Welcome to another Entrepreleaders article and please be blessed!

 I have always been passionate about the subject of entrepreneurship and sharing thoughts through-provoking ideas with you future or current entrepreneurs. Here is a thought  : as you start your startup, you will have about one to five people on your team, and more than likely nobody will be working full-time. As a matter of fact, you will probably be the only person working full-time. Around you, you will  have many other part-time people you know that have full-time jobs or studying and are giving up their extra hours to help you out.  Some of them may even  be working with you for free. Whatever the case may be, one of the challenges that you are going to face is ‘how do I lead these people’? It is not about the capacity to lead them nor is it about the know-how. The question is how do you EFFECTIVELY lead the team; the key word here being EFFECTIVELY. How do I lead these people that I have on my team effectively? How do I inspire them and keep them motivated? How do I make sure it is fun for us to work together as a team? Those are questions I still struggle with  and believe me when I say I have been doing this start up thing for quite a long time. Over the past few months, I made it my mission to study my different teams and learn the art of effectively leading them; at least better than I did at the time. 

My company is called Entrepreleaders House and within Entrepreleaders House you have Entrepreleaders consulting, where I operate as a startup consultant working with individuals starting their business. Then you have Entrepreleaders School, a school where we facilitate entrepreneurship learning to youth from the age of about 14 to 25 years old. Then we are just about to launch Entrepreleaders Magazine for 2023. In the midst of that, we just launched last year Entrepreleaders Foundation where we get to identify low income individuals with an incredible passion for entrepreneurship  but who are unable to afford to study entrepreneurship with our school. The foundation assists them with mentorship, funders, data and  all the tools they need to become self-sufficient individuals in order to study. As you can  imagine I have more than a few balls in my hands that I am constantly  juggling all the time . As a result, I am working with different kinds of people, personalities and drives. All of them require leadership. Working on all of these balls requires leadership and I can not do it all on my own; it is virtually and practically impossible. I need people to help make this happen. One of the reasons why I have  all of these balls in my hands is because they are an extension of who I am. What I mean by that is  that I am an entrepreneur through and through. That means I am constantly and always going to be coming up with new ideas, new deals, new concepts and new strategies, and possibly new products or new services.

Having said that, let me ask you these questions. How many people do you have on your team right now in your startup and what kind of people are they? I have realized that there are two kinds of individuals that you will find working with you. Some people may call it working for you, but I like the idea of thinking that everybody working for me is actually working with me. With that being said you have two kinds of individuals working with you.

The first type is an Employee-Employee. Then you have the second group that I have come to call Employee-Entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs. An employee entrepreneur is someone who is highly entrepreneurial; they are always coming up with ideas, and require a lot of autonomy to be productive. They take a lot of risks even with some of the resources you have given them. You will always find these kinds of people on your team. They are risk-takers, they are innovators, and full of new ideas. They want to try new things which makes them highly entrepreneurial  but adversely very costly. These are your employee entrepreneurs. On the other hand, you have got the employee-employee and these other people are not as innovative.

They are never going to take on the initiative to do something new. They are never going to do something that you have not asked them to do. Strangely enough,  you need both types of individuals in your organization. You just have to lead them differently. I want to talk about that because the purpose of this article is, how do I lead my team effectively? I want to give you two massive tools that are gonna help you identify within your team who are the employee-employee and the employee entrepreneurs. Let’s start with the employee-employee. What determines an employee-employee? 

An employee-employee is a person who is very good at getting  tasks done.They get overwhelmed with big ideas of things that are not yet there. They don’t mind you sharing the vision, but they don’t need to know where we are gonna be in 20 years time. They don’t need to know that you are  going to own a jet and the company’s gonna be in different cities; for them that is just irrelevant. As a matter of fact, they will call you the  ‘’too much ‘’ type. This is simply the length they perceive life through. With that being said, what do they need? How do you lead them correctly? By giving them as much information as possible. These people require an incredible amount of information to be efficient; they need you to give them as much detail about the task as possible and I’m not  referring to micro management . These are your employee-employee’s. They need that information so that they can make the best decisions to achieve the best outcome. The lack of information will potentially cause anxiety and inadequacy feelings towards their job. The more details you give them, the more efficient they become. You have to tell them the what, the where, the how, the when, and all the rest. Give them as much information as possible, as much detail as possible and they will get it done thoroughly. These are your employee-employee and you need them for key tasks. You need these people that need information.

Now I know for any of you reading this right now and are entrepreneurs, you are thinking, these are the people I don’t want to deal with the most, right? As entrepreneurs, we want to spend the least amount of time in meetings to get things going. These kinds of people, employee-employee, require proper meeting structure. They require you  to set a specific time to meet up with them and stick to that time. If it takes two hours, take the two hours to give them as much information as possible. Tell them when you need it, how you need it, and the font in which you need it via email as the more details you give them, the better they can get a job done and the better off is your company.

The next set of people you are going to have to lead within your small startup are the employee entrepreneurs.  The employee entrepreneur is a highly entrepreneurial person. They are incredibly volatile. We love working with them because they don’t require as many meetings. They don’t require as much information. You just have to give them the idea and they will follow through with the task. The challenge with these individuals is that they will seldom make the deadlines. They will often miss out on deadlines because they have a lot of ideas raining and competing in their heads. They will not be as productive or efficient at times as the employee-employee, but they will be brilliant at creating new ideas, new fresh perspectives within your organization. They will be brilliant at challenging the status quo and saying, ‘why not do it like this’? They will either be a pain to work with or  an asset that you enjoy working with depending on your preferred style of leadership and their character and personality.

The reason why these people are greatly important is that they will breed innovation within your organization. You massively need them because you cannot be the only person breeding innovation within your company. They will have a different set of questions and their question will ignite a new form of passion. It will ignite a new form of thinking  within your startup. You are simply going to need these people.  And this is how you lead the employee entrepreneurs . I have created this tool called the VG Goal for Employee Entrepreneurs. The VG style   is simply an acronym. As I said earlier, I love creating acronyms.

What is  a VG style? The V stands for Vision.  You want to cast as much vision as possible because they are entrepreneurial. They need to have an idea of where your head is at as they need to see as far as your eyes can see. They come alive when they get vision. Vision is the blood that runs through their veins; it sets their blood on fire and inspires them. You want to be able to cast a solid vision that will inspire them. 

Once you have cast that vision, do not stop there. The next thing is to go to G, and the G is for goals. You want to be able to set up goals. Do not set a big vision and leave it there. Set a vision and set goals for year number one.And even within the big goals, you have to set small milestones. 

These people are massively important because they are a growing trend that is known as intrapreneurs. The term intrapreneurs refers to individuals that are capable of starting an enterprise from within an enterprise.This is possible, in fact, Google right now is one of the top leading companies in making an effective use of intrepreneurs. Did you know that Google Maps was never created by Sergey Brin, the founder of Google and CEO? They create rooms and allow entrepreneurs to work within Google and give them all the resources that they need to come up with the best ideas ever. Once that idea comes to life, it is branded as a Google product. Google Map, for example, is the product of an entrepreneur within Google. They need to be empowered to go and make it happen. They need to be given space to do things out of the books. I almost want to say they need to be given the room to think outside of the box and just get the goal done. Whichever route they use, it doesn’t matter much. When I say it does not matter, it is important to realize that as the key leader and culture driver of the company, you will put in place some clear values that determine the way you do things within the organization. This will in turn create  the belief system and the boundaries aligned with your culture  so that anything that is done, even if done differently is still done within the parameters of your values. 

You want to have these people as they will be the ones making sure that your company remains competitive by constantly having new products, new services, new ideas and new strategies. How do you lead your startup, right? As I just bring this to it to a close, you want to identify who are the employees-employees and who are the employee entrepreneurs. 

I hope this is useful to you. I am going to keep on sharing some of the thoughts that I have from my experience and from the challenges that I am facing within my organization. I trust that somewhere along these lines, these micro thoughts  will be a blessing to you and an inspiration to your team. I am looking forward to sharing another article with you. 

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