Entrepreneurship can be such a long, lonely road. Especially at the beginning when you are moulding your idea and you find yourself spending so many hours away from friends, family and even a few of your hobbies.
There are so many articles, books, courses and journals that are designed to help a startup founder build their business right. The topics range from sales to branding to operating systems, but very few talk about the founder’s habits, mindset, and their tenacity. Two years into running Lumo Naturals, I realised that my mindset and approach to building systems for my business was changing. It was no longer about just me, I was responsible for leading my team and no business book was teaching me how to develop as an individual. The pressure was enormous and in a bid to make sense of it all, I came about creating what I call ‘the pillars of an entrepreneur’s personal growth’.
Before I go ahead to share them, let me explain why this is important for your business and how it can help you grow your bottom line:
- Think core values: It is very important to identify your brand’s core strength and what values align with it. This will help you to determine what your unfair advantage is and how you can communicate it easily to the customers to drive sales.
- Think marathon: It is important to remember that you are playing the long game here. Your focus should, therefore, be on how many conversions you can make from skeptics to loyalists, it helps you get a good understanding of the market and what clients expect from your brand when they come in contact with it.
Now that we are clear on why it is important for your brand that you personally build your habits as a founder, here are my 3-pillar intangible Cs:
This is such an important pillar to have as you grow your brand. You will encounter so many challenges along the way that will make whatever preparations you had seem inadequate. The strength of your business model will be tested and your skills as a visionary will be stretched by market forces. What will you do? You will need a good amount of courage to adapt without compromising on your core values. You will need courage to be sincere about not knowing it all and asking for help when you need it. You will need courage to face your employees when their salary is delayed and/or face your shareholders when the numbers come back much lower than the forecast you presented at the beginning of the year.
A good number of startup founders are results-oriented. They are in business almost by accident and, most often than not, driven by the passion to build something bigger than themselves. So when they take that first step, the vision is not always completely clear yet. They have an ideal mental picture but the little pieces that will fit together and birth their idea is still fuzzy. As you move gradually into your second to third year of operations, you will notice a pattern and confidently start to create a brand legacy blueprint. This is where the pillar of clarity plays its role. Clarity of vision makes it easy for you to focus on what is important and tune out the noise as you build. Clarity gives you the courage to say no to a 5 Million naira buy-in that demands 52% equity because you know that when you are done, your company will be worth 10 times more.
This is the most dynamic pillar of the three. Without courage and clarity, you cannot define your brand culture. Brand culture is the number one reason why people buy Nike instead of Puma or will rather go the extra mile to work with a company that puts people first. When you build a value-based company culture that makes your team members feel safe and rewarded, they absorb your vision into their lives and make it more than just a slogan. But you must lead by example and make an effort to be present when a team member needs a pep talk and set them straight when it needs to be done.
The mind is such a powerful weapon, and when the mind is aligned with the body, your productivity is higher and your willpower to persevere is also much stronger. There are a number of exercises and techniques used by life coaches to help you build habits that will make it easier to adopt these three pillars mentioned above into your routine. But a general rule of thumb is to find a way to practice soul refueling every morning as you start your day.
These intangibles are just as important as the courses and business tips you need to grow. Learning what your role is, and amplifying your strengths should be a significant part of your strategy for success if you want to build a legacy and be known for delivering value consistently.
Go ahead and share some of your personal pillars with me in the comments, I want to learn from you too.