Build Your Business on Your Strengths, Hire Your Team to Cover Your Weaknesses

If you dream of quitting your job and becoming your own boss, you’re not alone – 48 percent of Americans want to start their own business. But are you cut out for the entrepreneurial path? There’s an ongoing debate about whether entrepreneurs are born or made. Is there such a thing as entrepreneurial DNA?

Certain factors give you a better shot. Risk tolerance is a must but, by-and-large, there’s not just one type of person who can be a successful entrepreneur. In fact, business success has very little to do with whether you’re a people person or an introvert, detail-oriented or big-picture, quick-thinking or contemplative. I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years and seen people at each of these extremes achieve great success in their own ventures.

The key is knowing your strengths. It’s not about what type of person you are, it is about knowing what type of person you are. The one essential characteristic that makes a successful entrepreneur is a capacity for introspection. The entrepreneur who succeeds is the one who truly knows his or her own strengths, and builds a business around them.

Think about Disney, Ford, Apple, Google, Amazon, Virgin–some of the most successful businesses in history. Most people assume that the founders were just born with exceptional talent. It’s true that each of them had a particular area of genius but that’s not why they succeeded. They succeeded because they knew where they excelled and organized their management structure accordingly. Each one of them designed his company in a way that allowed him to spend almost all of his time working on what he loved to do. Success followed.

I asked my friend and business coach Lex Sisney (cofounder of CX.com and author of Organizational Physics) to weigh in on the question of what makes a successful entrepreneur.

“I think a business can reach a modicum of success with any entrepreneur who’s smart, hard-working and determined,” he says. “But only an entrepreneur who fuses his or her unique talents with a driving sense of purpose can achieve a transcendent level of success, and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it.”

Every one of us is a genius at something. Every one of us is a potential entrepreneur. The key is to understand where your greatest talent lies, and figure out how to build a business around it.

Know your weaknesses, too. But what if there are certain areas in which you’re maybe not-so-much of a genius? Can you still be an entrepreneur if, say, you never passed calculus in high school?

Even the most successful entrepreneurs I know have their weaknesses. Some people excel at starting projects but are terrible at finishing them. Others shine in customer development but can’t wrap their head around operations. The good news is you don’t need to be a genius at everything to be an entrepreneur.

You do need to be aware of, and open about, your weaknesses. When you know where you’ll need support, you can build your team accordingly. Don’t hire people who are just like you. Instead, bring in people who complement your skills by excelling where you struggle. If you fail to do this, you’ll end up spending a lot of your time working in your weak areas, experiencing a ton of stress in day-to-day operations as a result.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. As your business grows, it’s not long before you get drawn into fighting fires outside of your specialty. If you don’t trust your team, either because you didn’t hire the right types of people to support you or because you haven’t learned how to get out of the way, it causes everyone stress. The business won’t perform up to potential.

Lex told me a story about how he almost ruined his own business (which went on to become the largest affiliate marketing company in the world) by failing to recognize his weaknesses early on:

“A business I started was growing like gangbusters,” he said. “As a result, we were having a lot of problems getting our internal systems to keep pace with our sales. Rather than sticking to what I was good at–, innovation and market evangelism, I wrongly decided that I needed to become more of an ‘operator.’ I stopped spending as much time out in the market with customers, and I started spending more time working inside the business trying to right the ship.”

As he became more and more frustrated trying to fix operations, he started to lose confidence in his own capabilities. Problems with the system persisted and, even worse, sales started slipping. Finally, he brought in a coach who helped him delegate so that he could get back to working from his strengths.

“My energy level and confidence quickly came back and so did our sales,” he said. “Once I stopped meddling, the inside team rose to the challenge and made dramatic system improvements as well. That business went on to become the largest of its kind in the world. And to think I almost wrecked it by trying to work from my weaknesses rather than my strengths!”

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses. We all have biases that make an accurate self-assessment almost impossible. I’m introspective by nature but even I didn’t fully understand my strengths and weaknesses at the start. Luckily, there are lots of great tools out there for introspection junkies like me!

Here are my favorite tools (I’ve used all five) for better understanding your strengths and weaknesses:

1. StrengthsFinder. The StrengthsFinder assessment first showed up in the 2001 best-selling book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Dr. Donald Clifton. The self-assessment (now available online independent of the book) identifies your top five strengths based on your unique combination of talents, knowledge and skills.My top five strengths, per the test, were: activator, woo maximizer, communication and competition.

2. PSIU Management Style Indicator. The PSIU from Lex Sisney of Organizational Physics evaluates three different aspects of your management style: how you are, how you want to be and how others want you to be. Very useful for better understanding not only how you operate but also how other people perceive you in the workplace.

3. DiSC Assessment. The DiSC measures how you respond to your environment and how you influence others. It’s based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Marston, which centers on four personality traits – dominance, inducement, submission and compliance. (Fun fact: Marston also produced the first successful lie detector polygraph and created the comic Wonder Woman.)

4. ARC Leadership Dynamics. ARC starts with a 30-minute phone interview rather than a self-assessment (the makers of this test believe that self-assessments are too biased to be accurate). Following the phone interview, the specialist responds with tailored advice on how to best leverage your strengths in a position of leadership.

5. Predictive Index. The Predictive Index is often used as a hiring tool but it’s also useful as a self-assessment. This test tells you which behaviors you exhibit most strongly in the workplace and gives you a general overview of your management style.

Weakness doesn’t have to be an obstacle to success. Every entrepreneur has many. There are all kinds of people in this world, each with a different set of strengths. So what do you think: Are you an entrepreneur? If you have a deep capacity for introspection, you’re off to a great start.The key is to understand your own personal genius, plan your business around it and bring in people who can cover your blind spots.

6 Fundamentals Every Modern Entrepreneur Needs to Succeed

The road to being a true-blue entrepreneur is paved with spectacular stories of crash-and-burn. It requires a certain type of stamina that few possess and an insatiable desire to do better than the day before. Such a demanding lifestyle has no boundaries in place, except for those self-imposed. This alone can prove deadly for the half-serious startup hopeful.

Mastering the daily hustle is something that will either make or break any hopes for success. If you’re not serious about upgrading your skill set, than prepare to be beaten by those who make it their mission.

Succeeding today calls for a jack-of-all-trades-like approach. Here are the qualities that future success stories in business need to possess:

1. A scholarly research ability. People don’t simply buy things anymore. There’s a winning mix of brand interactions, advertisements and recommendations that go into every significant purchase we make.

Getting this recipe to truly click involves not only knowing the history of your industry and competitors, but also knowing where and when to go for the latest updates and insights. Don’t pick up a copy of The New York Times, read through, and call it a day. Find those bloggers and influencers leading the way, peruse every trade publication for your industry and learn where to go for real answers.

Having an edge in the form of information is what will help you win those customers who are still on the fence.

2. A strong social media presence. If your LinkedIn profile looks like a phone book listing, we have a serious problem. If your indecent Facebook photos show up in an online search for your company, we might have a catastrophe. Tighten up your presentation to the world to leverage the free online assets we know as social media.

Designers are using Instagram to showcase their portfolios. Business owners are using Facebook to adjust their product offerings. Twitter breaks news, Tumblr shows trends and Pinterest uncovers customer buying habits. Find the channels best suited to your industry and start making them work for you. Just make sure to tie up any loose ends first.

3. An actively updated blog or website.  If you are so much as selling lemonade, you need a website. Unless you don’t like making money, you need a blog. If you’re not actively engaging potential customers online, showcasing your expertise and properly updating your channels and site, you’re losing to someone who is. Get in a weekly rhythm of updating your digital properties.

Websites drive conversions and blogs drive search traffic. Both can become bottomless pits when it comes to managing your time. It helps to have a set of resources or a resident expert in your corner. WordPress sites, and the like, make updating your content painless but consider teaming-up with an outside firm or consultant. Their insights and strategies can save hours of frustration.

4. A professional look and feel to everything you do. Even if you’re not in the fashion industry, every entrepreneur needs to work on perfecting their own personal style.

There’s a certain beauty to a freshly-minted business card or fine-pressed uniform. Clean, appropriate, smart design is what drives the professional world. Even for multi-colored or explosively creative big-league companies, there is a certain order and form that exists in their business materials that simply screams professional.

If you want to succeed, you will eventually need to develop an eye (or at least an appreciation) for the power of superior branding. Because superior branding is enough to turn a “maybe” into a “yes, please!”

5. A knack for storytelling. This is an often untapped asset in the business world, an escape from being perceived as just another vendor. While a great many might feel like they don’t have one, rest assured: every business has a story worth telling. It may take some soul searching, but once you lock in to that narrative, greater opportunities will begin to present themselves.

The world is filled with truly special individuals and great stories just waiting to be told. Recognize where your products or services come into that story and align yourself with it.

When it comes to keeping things fresh, it helps to keep a journal to recount all of your awesomeness. At a company, it’s about creating the story of a best-in-class service or product that makes life better. And don’t forget: a great story needs great characters!

6. A way to put it all together.  Keeping an ear to the online grindstone is a full-time job. A limitless smorgasbord of productivity apps and software services can leave many anxious and distraught. Turn these feelings into fuel and recognize that anything is possible. Use sites like IFTTT.com to automate certain processes and services like Evernote to keep tabs on your daily readings.

Be sure to take a step back from it all every day. Find time to reflect, with family or through fitness. Keep yourself motivated by seeking out mentors, video tutorials and new information. You don’t need to back yourself into a corner, but you do need a strong focal point to help guide you through hardships the that will inevitably come about. The stronger your focus, the better chance you have of coming out victorious.

In today’s world, it’s never been easier to make your mark in business. The challenge lies in saying something meaningful and relevant. Take part in the global economy, find the balance that best suits you and get ready for big things to happen.

posted on:entrepreneur.com

10 Pointers Every Young Entrepreneur Needs to Know

A young entrepreneur might run across a lot of articles offering advice for the new business owner. But how many articles are actually geared toward the young entrepreneur?

As a former young entrepreneur myself (now I’m 30), I’ve decided to share my insights from my past experiences — all the types of things that I wish someone had passed on to me when I was first starting out.

1. Do what you love.

When I graduated from college I worked at a job that I didn’t like because it paid me well. I hated to go into work each day. I admit that entrepreneurs typically make the worst employees because they want to be out there growing their own enterprise. Figure out what you love and then become the best that there is at it.

Your passion for your product or service will keep you motivated and get you through the tough times. Yes, there will be challenging moments. But when you work on something that you actually care about (as opposed to just trying to make a quick buck), you’ll probably be happy, have direction and fight as hard as you can to make this crazy idea of yours become a reality. 

2. Stay focused.

It’s awfully tempting to jump from project to project, especially when it seems as if a million opportunities are flying by. But don’t become distracted from the big picture. Instead of working on multiple projects, stay on track and complete the task at hand. If you’re working on multiple projects, you can spread yourself too thin, which will have an effect on your performance, productivity and resources. Perfect that one thing instead of working on five so-so projects.

3. Exploit online resources.

The Internet is a gold mine of resources. For example, visit the site of the U.S. Small Business Administration for advice about writing business plans, legal considerations, loans and even local resources to help you get that startup off the ground. Other awesome online resources are the websites of SCORE, America’s Small Business Development CenterBplansVentureBeat and, of course, Entrepreneur.com.

4. Find a mentor.

Whether you turn to a local entrepreneur, a business leader or a weathered vet that you meet through LinkedIn, having a mentor is one of the best resources you can have. Not only might a mentor have experience (such as dealing with venture capitalists), he or she also could possess an extensive network and help you connect with the right people to make your startup a success.

Don’t be afraid to cold call or email a big name in the industry. Many of these big names like to help younger entrepreneurs as a way of giving back. I met my mentor when I was 12. He was the owner of a large carpet store. I was his paper boy. I delivered his paper in the perfect location every day for three months till one day I saw him. I asked him straight up, Will you be my mentor? He said yes. He’s still a mentor to me today along with many other people.

5. Take care of yourself. 

I was a young go-getter once. (At age 12 I started my first candy stand and had three at one point.) I know exactly how it is: You think that you’re invincible. Here’s the breaking news: You’re not.

As an entrepreneur, you might find it easy to push aside healthy lifestyle essentials, such as getting exercise, eating a balanced diet and securing enough sleep. But what good will you be if you’re tired or your immune system if weak? Plus, exercise is a great way to relieve some stress.

Don’t forget to make time for yourself. You need to take a break from work or you might burn yourself out. I personally love to listen to books and have since I was a kid. I’m not very good at reading as I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder so I listen to books. Find what works for you!

6. Define your market.

Failing to define the market is a common mistake of a lot of young entrepreneurs. Always remember to consider if your business plan makes sense for your market. If you’re dreaming up a late-pizza delivery service, do you start it in a business district or a college town? There are a number of ways for you to try to define your market, such as by demographics or psychological factors.  

I always hear people in the fashion industry tell me that their world is a $1.2 trillion market. Technically they may be correct. But if your product is hipster pants, the market isn’t $1.2 trillion. How many hipsters are there in the world? How many of them would purchase your product on a yearly basis? 

7. Be able to explain your business at a whim.

You never know when you’ll have to explain your business. You could run into an investor in an elevator or end up making a sales pitch to a customer while out to eat. Always be ready to clearly and quickly state your mission, service and product or goals.

This is something I learned from Derek Anderson, the founder of Startup Grind, which hosts events for entrepreneurs. He took me to lunch about three years ago and asked me what I did and the business I was promoting. I really didn’t know how to answer. Since then I have refined my pitch so that when someone asks me what I do, I can tell them in five words or less. Practice your 5-second, 15-second and 1-minute pitch over and over. This will help you be able to explain your business to anyone out there in any situation.

Related: Staging the Anti-Conference That Will Pull in Young Entrepreneurs

8. Remember, you run a startup. 

Just because you secured some funding that doesn’t give you the right to act like you’re a rock star. A luxury home, an office with an actual shark tank or a really fast car are all just a big waste of money, especially in the beginning. Remember, you run a little-known startup (and you’re not Richard Branson overseeing a large successful company). Be careful about managing your cash flow and make sure that you keep track of expenses. That’s not being cheap. It’s being wise. You don’t want to burn through all your cash too early.

9. There are still rules.  

A major perk that comes with being an entrepreneur is that you’re the boss. You can make your own hours and develop your vision of a company. In short, you’re doing whatever you want. And it’s awesome. But there are some rules that all entrpereneurs have to follow like registering your business and paying taxes. These are just some of the not-so-much fun things you have to handle. If not, you’re going to be in just a little bit of trouble.

10. Know when to fold ’em.

Sure, I’ve had success running and selling several different companies, but do you know how many I’ve started and stopped because they weren’t taking off?  Tons. Some say 9 out of every 10 business fail within the first couple years. 

Don’t let your pride get in the way of closing your company. I learned this the hard way in college when I launched what became my first failure, Utefan. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t going to work or make money. I kept putting money into it and spending time on it. Eventually I had to give up my pride and stop. Know when to let go.

If you’re not familiar with the classic Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler,”then stop what you’re doing and check it out. It offers some of the best advice ever. Why? Just like any great gambler, you have to know when to fold ’em. Instead of continuing to work on a fledgling business, it’s best to walk away and reflect on what went wrong. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s inevitable. And you’ll take that lesson with on your next venture. 

3 Startups Offer New ‘Microloan’ Options for Entrepreneurs With Big Ambitions

In the United States, a whopping 543,000 new businesses are launched each month. Sadly, half of all start-ups aren’t able to keep their doors open for more than five years. The failure of many small businesses is due, in large part, to lack of funding.

In the last several years, however, there has been a surge of microfinance institutions popping up across the United States, offering a solution to this problem by issuing microloans.

A microloan is defined as a very small, short-term loan with a low interest rate, usually extended to a start-up company or self-employed person. Typically, these loans do not exceed $35,000.

Microloans started as a solution for impoverished borrowers in underdeveloped countries. These borrowers typically lacked collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history, making them a difficult candidate for traditional financing options. Microloans have been successful in helping to support entrepreneurship and encourage economic growth in these developing nations. 

In more recent years, microlenders have been establishing themselves all across the United States. According to the 2009 Microfinance Information Exchange study, almost 1,100 microfinance institutions were identified and shown to collectively serve more than 74 million borrowers with $38 billion in loans. Some microlenders are finding creative ways to improve and streamline this already simple process by offering unique microlending services. 

1. TrustLeaf.com: Daniel Lieser, co-founder and development manager for TrustLeaf.com, extends microloans through crowdsourcing. What makes TrustLeaf.com unique is that business owners only borrow from friends and family. Their campaigns are not publicly available. This protects the borrower’s privacy.

Borrowers simply set up a campaign on Trustleaf’s site, providing all the necessary information about their business. They then select loan terms. Potential borrowers are able to pick from a few lending options with different interest rates, minimum amount due,and various repayment terms. The borrower and the lender come to an agreement about which loan terms make the most sense for both parties.

Once the borrower has set up their campaign, they can invite friends and family to view the campaign. “Friends and family don’t like to haggle because it makes them uncomfortable,” said Lieser. “Having this system in place prevents those awkward conversations of attempting to collect money when it’s due because it’s all laid out on our platform. Funding comes straight from the lender, a peer-to-peer system.”

2. PayPal Working Capital. PayPal currently has more than 152 million active accounts, processing more than nine million payments on any given day. Last year, they launched PayPal Working Capital, offering microloans to a select number of businesses. Loans offered through this program range from $5,000 to $60,000.

Paypal Working Capital is unique because loan repayments are based on a fixed percentage of total monthly business sales, creating flexibility for a borrower whose sales patterns are difficult to predict. In addition, the deciding factor in extending a line of credit to a business is their sales history within PayPal, so no credit check is performed.

3. Bitcoin Brands. Peter Klampka, CEO of Bitcoin Brands Inc, is a forward thinker. He foresees Bitcoins being utilized as a means for extending microloans. Bitcoins are digital currency you can send through the Internet. They are universal, have the lowest transfer fees, almost zero time restrictions and have the fastest transfer rate compared to traditional currency loans and transactions.

Bitcoins can also be sent from one mobile phone to another. “With a micro-transaction, I can text you that money and you have it in minutes,” said Klampka. “It’s fast, cheap and can be universally accepted from anyone at any time.”

Bitcoins are quickly gaining public acceptance. Overstock, Expedia and thousands of small vendors currently accept Bitcoin payments. Even forward-thinking universities are getting involved. Every student who enrolls at MIT this fall will receive $100 worth of Bitcoins.

It is clear that microloans present a competitive alternative to traditional banking institutions and are transforming lending practices. This new source of credit is creating a lifeline of capital for small businesses and helping them continue to grow, even in the most competitive of markets.

The 7 Deadly Sins of the Eager Entrepreneur

Let’s face it: You have to be a little bit crazy to be an entrepreneur.

While most of us appreciate nothing more than the steady comfort of a regular paycheck and a well-structured routine, entrepreneurs are attracted to more extreme emotions. They need the highs of seeing their vision come true, and they’re unafraid of the lows of witnessing their dreams crash to the ground.

But the very same personality traits that so often bring us innovative and beloved companies can also lead creative and talented people to torpedo their business before it even takes off. Here, then, are seven deadly “sins” entrepreneurs commit much too often.

1. Splitting equity: Anyone who has graduated kindergarten knows all about the importance of sharing, working together and getting along with others. But when it comes to starting companies, that instinct can be problematic. Try to split the equity in the company equally between its co-founders and, almost guaranteed, you’ll soon enough come to a stalemate.

That’s because in business, like in every other realm of life, someone has to have the final say. That means, even if salaries and skill sets are all alike, someone has to be the boss and make the call, especially with young businesses that grow and change rapidly. Rather than fearing that very, very awkward conversation with your partner, have it early and move on.

2. Building a product without a robust go-to-market strategy. Here’s one movie you should definitely not take as your guide to business:Field of Dreams. That famous line—“if you build it, they will come”—is about the worst piece of advice you can give an entrepreneur. Sadly, too many entrepreneurs heed it, regardless.

Being excited about your product is necessary for a start-up. Believing in it is indispensable. But launching a company without a solid plan for distributing your product is business suicide. Never do it.

3. Ignoring the known unknowns. Self-confidence is every entrepreneur’s secret sauce. It’s the quality that helps you shine in meetings with investors or potential clients.

But self-confidence is a double-edged sword. Like every living person, entrepreneurs have blind spots. Thah is fine, as long as they know exactly what they don’t know and surround themselves with co-founders, employees, advisors, anyone who can help fill in the blanks.

The moment you begin to think that you know everything, the moment you ignore the many, many things you haven’t the foggiest clue about, is the moment you open yourself up to disaster.

4. Not trusting your gut. So knowledge is important, but gut feeling — that impossible-to-describe hunch that just signals to us sometimes and suggests the right course of action — is, too.

Because they’ve risked everything to get their business started, founders have very strong instincts about what is right and isn’t right for them professionally. That applies to strategy, staffing and just about every other decision a founder can make. Entrepreneurs should learn to trust these feelings.

That isn’t an invitation to do whatever you damn please, all the time. As the boss, you should be rigorous in your thinking and deliberate in your decision-making. But if your gut is telling you something, stop and listen.

5. Failing to assign roles and responsibilities. It’s a truth, universally acknowledged, that an entrepreneur does everything. Start a new company, and you’ll find yourself developing product, servicing clients, writing website copy and running to the bank to deposit checks

Because they have so many responsibilities, at least early on in the game, and such a passion to see every aspect of their business succeed, entrepreneurs very frequently fail miserably at assigning clear roles and responsibilities to the their team. That’s a pity. Without clear directions, it’s very hard for employees to meet their targets. Job descriptions should be clear, concise and evolve as frequently as the company does.

6. Avoiding fierce conversations. Sure, entrepreneurs are often passionate, intense people. But they also tend to be outgoing and collaborative in nature, which means that they, like most normal human beings, dread confrontation. Sadly, confrontation is often needed, especially when trying to define the course of a new business. Avoiding awkward or confrontational discussions today will create exponentially bigger problems tomorrow: if something is not right, dig in immediately.

7. Letting whims create whiplash. As the founder, you care about your company dearly. That means that you seek out, and get, input and feedback from people all the time. It also means that you are thinking about your business 24/7, and always have new ideas.

That is great, if you have a framework for you and your team to deal with these bursts of inspiration. Otherwise, you’re likely to just create whiplash by always attacking the new, shiny thing. Don’t exhausting yourself and the company’s resources chasing the latest whim rather than following a systematic, well-laid plan.

courtesy:entrepreneur.com

Why are Indian companies not venturing into next level of tech such as cloud storage, cyber security?

 In a country with the requisite expertise, it’s surprising that few have ventured into the next level of technology such as cloud storage, cyber security and software-defined networking.

But a few startups have bucked the trend and are profiting from it. Take for instance Lucidous Tech, founded by 23-year-old Saket Modi. The two-year-old company is one of the few Indian players in the cyber security space and works with companies like IBM, Microsoft and KPMG.

“The barrier to entry is very high. Even if you’re a worldclass hacker, organisations will not trust a startup,” said CEO Modi, who built credibility by giving seminars on ethical hacking and cyber forensics across India.

His cyber security firm in New Delhi works with about 415 enterprises to develop security products and hacks into their systems to detect vulnerabilities in codes. The company is soon going international and has tripled its revenue since last year.

“It’s very lucrative. Companies will pay a huge price for gaining momentum in this space,” said Ravi Gururaj, chairman of Nasscom Product Council.

With the internet of things becoming a global phenomenon, the security software makers have a chance to build software in uncharted territories. The market is pegged at $95.60 billion (.`5.8 lakh crore) in 2014 and will grow to $155.74 billion (. `9.5 lakh crore) by 2019, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.

These core technologies power the next generation of computing and lay the foundation for enterprises. But the dearth of Indian companies is glaring.

“There are very few companies. This is the best kept secret in the industry ,” said Jay Pullur, founding member of software product thinktank iSpirt.

Pullur, also the CEO of Hyderabad-based Pramati Tehnologies, said iSpirt talks to global MNCs regularly and have been told that such companies are easy acquisition targets.

Also the market size and opportunity in these technologies have been more than validated.

Take software-defined networking as an example. In simple terms, SDN will do to networking, what cloud did to servers–eliminate physical data centres and virtualise the hardware aspects of networking, untying software from legacy hardware.

So why are there so few entrepreneurs? It is not the lack of expertise. Bangalore hosts the development centres of at least two Silicon Valley-based companies in SDN–Avni Networks and Versa Networks. “We aren’t using our India team for mundane development tasks, like maintenance and bug fixes–a big mistake of many larger companies in tech. Quite the opposite,” said Kumar Mehta, CEO of Silicon-Valley based Versa Networks. The twoyear-old company has received $14.4 million (Rs 87.5 crore) in funding from Sequoia till date.

“The India team is working on the core solution, writing code around the clock with their Silicon Valley peers,” said Mehta, a former employee of Juniper Networks.

Last year, research firm CB Insights said deal activity jumped 75% on the back of large acquisitions by Juniper Networks and VMWare. Between mid-2012 to 2013 to SDN-related startups have raised nearly $416 million (Rs 2,500 crore) across 35 deals.

Cloud storage is another largely unnoticed area.

courtesy:etcio.com

If You Want to Win, Stop Focusing on Winning

It seems counterintuitive that you could actually win more (in sports, life, or business) by focusing less on the win, but it’s true. Let me explain. Coach Bill Walsh (named the second greatest coach in NFL history by ESPN) celebrated every well-executed play, whether or not that play resulted in a score or a win.

To him, it didn’t matter if the play was unsuccessful in its results as much as that it was successful in its execution. Because of his sincere love and respect for the game of football, Walsh focused on training his team to play with precision. On the other hand, a “successful” play, executed sloppily, earned his correction.

It’s the same for us as business leaders. The more we focus on winning, the more stressful and less productive the environment becomes.

Focusing less on the win isn’t about lowering the standard, it’s about creating an environment around the disciplined execution of winning plays (the process) and focusing on what you can control rather than what you can’t. This leads to less shame among team members, creating a better environment.

Highly disciplined execution of plays (in other words, when team members do what they are supposed to) doesn’t just happen. It requires you to invest and provide leadership to those team members. It requires a culture that focuses on long-term goals without getting stressed about the short-term ones.

Bill Walsh liked to practice so hard that the plays became instinct. In the sales department, a “play” might be closing someone on the value of the product or convincing them that your solution is the best available option. These “plays” may or may not lead to someone signing on the dotted line, which is beyond the salesperson’s control.

Speaking of what you can control…there’s a lot you cannot. That’s why we, as leaders, need to hold our people accountable and measured on what is in their control. Focusing on those areas will increase your probability of success.

Spending all your focus on the desired end result will bring an environment of shame. Team members will be afraid to admit when the intended results don’t happen. Knowing you made a mistake is one thing. Thinking you are the mistake is a recipe for shame and burnout. The more you focus on results, the more you panic and shame people.

Rather than shaming your salespeople for the loss of a sale, focus on improving their understanding and execution of winning plays/behaviors. If shame exists, confidence does not. And without confidence, salespeople won’t sell, and no one will feel the freedom to share new ideas or even to fail in pursuit of a goal.

But if you take this new approach, you’ll “win” and garner success, but you’ll do it with integrity. And your team members will feel respected and valued. And that’s a team they’re going to want to commit to.

courtesy:entrepreneur.com