Each month in this column I ask a different question to you, the ExitEvent Entrepreneur. Thought provoking questions that are meant to get you to sit back and think. Each month I offer insight into the question, along with common mistakes made by (us) entrepreneurs, and a key take-away for you to think more about. My goal—to increase your self-awareness as an entrepreneur and a leader.
Insight - Inc. Magazine conducted a study and concluded that autonomy was the #1 reason people like us start our own companies. Men and women, in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Same question, same answer…autonomy. Yes, I know what some of you are saying, and yes let’s include teenagers and older people past their 50s in this group as well!
Makes sense right? We want to be our own boss and owning our own company solves that problem for us. Day one, we are the CEO, day one we have autonomy.
We love being our own boss. We love calling the shots. With autonomy we don’t have to get approval for squat. We just simply decide and go. That is our culture and that is our calling card. Think, decide, go. Repeat every day.
But sometimes though we forget the think step, or we don’t take advantage of all of the resources that are available to us. We want to go fast, so we decide and go and forget the thinking part, we allow our gut to make all of the decisions. Remember, only 50% of us survive five years in business and 30% are still around in 10 years, so what can we do better, to maintain autonomy and increase our success rates?
Common mistake made: Thinking you have to know everything.
One of the common reasons for failure in businesses is stubbornness. It is the identifying characteristic of many entrepreneurs who are destined to fail. Even after the problems have been repeatedly pointed out by others and even acknowledged by the CEO himself/herself, these CEOs continue making the same mistakes. You want to maintain autonomy and do what you want without others telling you what to do.
I spent my first few years trying to convince anyone and everyone that I was right. I defended vehemently my position because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I founded the company. If I showed any sign that I didn’t know what I was doing in every area, then why would anyone follow me?
Key Take-away: Autonomy and vulnerability
To become more vulnerable is to be open to criticism. The minute I transitioned from defending to listening actively (with the intent on hearing and understanding the input/criticism) is the day I became a significantly better entrepreneur and leader.
You don’t need to know everything; you can and should surround yourself with great supporting people who are significantly smarter than you in their areas of expertise. Find them and listen to them.