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Strategies of Successful EntrepreneursJune 1, 2007 By: Jane Hilburt-Davis Home-Based Travel Agent
Skills You Need to Move Your Business to the Next Level
ARE YOU SITTING IN YOUR OFFICE WONDERING how you're ever going to get everything finished? And who will handle client inquiries while you're away checking out new properties? You're reminded of the warning, "Be careful what you wish for." Maybe just a couple of years ago you started your home-based travel business and worried where the first few clients would come from. But now, you have created a successful business and how can you handle it all?
Relax, you're only experiencing growing pains, a symptom suffered by every successful entrepreneur. However, there are a few things you need to do to make that leap from surviving to thriving. No matter where you are in this journey, change starts with you. The skills you needed to get up the nerve to go out on your own are different from the ones you will need to grow your business. Ideally, you will be able to use the best of each. In this article, we'll talk about making that leap and offer a step-by-step way to do it.
First, take yourself on a mini-retreat. Take time from the day-to-day; shut off the phones, faxes and e-mails and give yourself one to two hours to think, envision, plan and dream. Ask yourself: What leadership style does your company need?
Different leadership styles are appropriate for different stages of a company. Leaders should be able to take the company where it needs to go.
Start by answering the following questions:
- 1. Where is the company going in the next 5-10 years? Where do you want it to go?
- 2. What kind of a leader do you need?
- 3. What are the leader's important skill sets?
- 4. Do you have or want to develop them?
- 5. What is your road map for the process?
Second, understand what real leadership is. Simply put, leadership is the ability to inspire others to get the job done, whether it's increasing the bottom line, climbing Mt. McKinley, leading a reconnaissance mission or helping your new account manager to get the job done. Leaders and employees work together to achieve results.
Third, be honest with yourself, since the talents both of entrepreneurs and leaders are needed. Which of the true leadership traits do you have? Which do you lack? And, which do you want to spend time and money developing? Or do you choose to hire someone to take over those tasks and let you get on with building your business and doing what you do so well? To help with these decisions, see the box below for some ways that entrepreneurs differ from leaders.
Considering Whether to Expand
Now that you've considered your strengths and challenges, think about which skills you want to develop. What do you want to get others to do for you and your company? Now you answer the phones, make reservations, pay the bills and attend networking functions. When you have two-20 employees, your time will be spent differently. You will be hiring the right people, mentoring, delegating, team building and supervising. You will teach your clients, who are used to dealing with you only, to trust your staff who have been mentored and trained by you.
Some tips for starting off right with new employees include carefully interviewing and check references: Make sure there's a good fit between the employee and the business culture you want to develop. Be sure to make clear the compensation and benefits package. Define and describe fully the job descriptions and a clear report structure; and explain your values, expectations, and vision for the company.
As employees come on board, your leadership skills are tested. Accountability must be part of the culture. Make sure that you pick a handful of jobs that you should do and give the rest away. As a leader, your work will be involved with the big picture, the long view: strategic planning, contracts, coaching and resource issues. How Entrepreneurs Differ From Leaders
Give your employees meaningful work, the resources and support they need and then let them do the job. Also give them timely feedback regarding their performance, and offer support and clarify continuously.
Provide jobs that allow employees to use a variety of skills. Getting people to assume greater and more shared responsibility means restraining your own instinct to solve problems.
Promote the use of team problem solving by rewarding employees working together on projects. Have regular meetings to deal with staff and work issues and plan strategically with your employees.
It's up to you to decide if you want to grow. Your success will depend on what fits you, your style, values and skills. Good luck!