You may think that being a successful entrepreneur involves having a brilliant business idea and working relentlessly to make it a reality.
These are important for sure, but there’s a far more fundamental part to get right first which you won’t find listed in the business books. It’s the importance of being a good leader of people and how, in order to do this, you must first get to know who you are.
“But I have passion and a great business idea,” we hear you cry. “I didn’t sign up to lead a team of people.”
While that may be so, if you want to turn that passion, energy and wizard idea into a viable business, you’ll need people. And because it’s your company, you’ll be the one leading them.
Self-discovery: a crucial piece of the business jigsaw
In her work coaching female entrepreneurs to business success, Julie Perkins, founder of Wyseminds, hears a common question when it’s time to take on their first team member (one that’s not a family or friend!) or supplier. “How do I begin to be a good leader?”. Her reply is always the same. “Before you can be a leader of others you need to know who you are first”.
You won’t be able to lead others if you can’t first lead yourself. To help steer your company through the ups and downs of its journey, you need to learn how to become the rudder that you can return to each time you need to ‘reground’ and find a place from which to power your leadership.
Self-knowledge is the tool that will get you there.
While great books on leadership will outline the behaviours and traits common to many business titans, these traits have generally been part of something bigger. Inspirational leaders knew how they saw their life and what type of leader they wanted to be and underlying that was self-knowledge.
As an entrepreneur, it’s the wisest business acquisition you’ll ever make and an essential piece of the jigsaw.
Be yourself – everyone else is taken
When Dr Seuss said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You” he encapsulated a simple truth.
No one is more you than you and while it may be an overused word in the world of business, you genuinely are ‘unique’.
But learning what kind of rare human specimen you are is difficult, especially in a world of conflicting forces, social media and fakery. Who even knows what being yourself means anymore?
Let’s try and keep it simple.
From passion to purpose the calm way
When self-knowledge usually involves a PhD from the school of life and hard knocks, how is the young entrepreneur ever to learn who they are?
At Wyseminds, we coach female founders in all aspects of running successful companies. Most importantly is doing the groundwork on your purpose and values because if you don’t know what you stand for, how can you know what kind of business leader you’ll be?
Our level 2 course Growth Begins With You delves deeper into this topic and can help unearth aspects about who you are and what factors have shaped you.
“When the female founders we work with have self doubts, we tell them you’ve got one thing that’s stronger than anything else – you,” says Julie Perkins, founder of Wyseminds. “Define your voice first and you’ll have mastered the first step towards turning your passion into purpose.
“We ask you to dive into your past to identify what things have contributed to your values and what you stand for today. You’ve been shaped by the highs and lows of your life so let’s look at what they are.”
The programme will help you gain more personal clarity about your values and purpose – there’s great power in that. Once you identify these, Wyseminds will help you translate them throughout your business.
That way, you’ll find it easier to create the space and consistency that your team needs in order to thrive and be the best they can be.
The founder’s trap – the place of no trust
Fail to create this space and you’ll notice the battery that’s powering your company will run flat and soon the people who helped launch your brilliant idea will run out of oomph.
You’ll end up feeling as if you’re the only one doing everything while becoming more exhausted by the minute.
Sound familiar? This is the founder’s trap, so common in early-stage entrepreneurship. It’s the place where you’re unhealthily attached to your company and can’t step back and trust that others can do the job as well as you.
The all-consuming nature of running a business like this will make you react to frustrations that happen in the moment and can produce a petri-dish brimming with lack of trust.
Self-knowledge and purpose – keeping your business on the right track
As a business leader, it’s your job to guide, not be a backseat boss.
“If your people know what you stand for and are clear on the values and purpose of your business, you should be able to remove yourself from everyday tasks and leave others to do the job you hired them to do because you trust that you share the same journey,” says Julie. “In effect, you should be able to make yourself redundant so you can focus on the bigger picture of creating further growth and leading your team to make sure you are constantly delivering what you promise.”
While self-knowledge is the all-important first step on this path, it’s by no means a one-off piece of work. Lifelong learning is what it says on the tin. If you’re serious about creating the space you’ll need to navigate through all of life’s challenges, knowing and understanding yourself first and foremost, will be an ongoing endeavour.
Check out our level 2 programme here or get in touch for a chat – we’d love to hear from you.