We’ve been thinking about leadership recently, so as a follow up to our 11 Qualities All Effective Leaders Possess, we thought we’d give you some thoughts and suggestions from actual successful entrepreneurs — people who really know their stuff.
We took some of our leadership tips from our 11 Tips post, and paired them with a piece of advice or two. These entrepreneurs can give business tips based on experience! Their reflections on their work might just help you with yours.
“Take as much feedback from as many people as you can about whatever idea you have…seek critical feedback. Ask them what’s wrong. You often have to draw it out in a nuanced way to figure out what’s wrong.” - Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, Solar City, and Space X
On Having a Sense of Humor
“Using humor as a core value makes companies more fluid and less rigid. You can be serious about the work and lighthearted at the same time. When you look at the light side, people remain more open, flexible, productive and motivated — all helping to create a cohesive corporate culture and keep the company moving forward.” - Joe Costello, Chairman and CEO of Enlightened
On Thinking It Through Before Acting
- "Test your assumptions. Entrepreneurs can be too passionate about their ideas and not run enough tests very early on, which can lead them astray." -Art Agrawal, Founder and CEO of Your Mechanic
“Your employees need to trust and believe in you. Honesty helps build that trust and confidence. Many leaders tell their employees what they think they want to hear. I prefer to be honest. When things are great, they know it. When things aren’t going as well, they are also aware. It creates a great team environment where everyone feels like they are in it together.” - Mitch Gordon, CEO and Cofounder of Go Overseas
On Building Relationships
“Think of the startup community as high school: you’ve got your freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and then teachers and staff. When you first enter the community, whether as a founder or an employee, you’re a freshman. By all means, develop relationships with mentors and more senior, experienced people, but also foster relationships with people just one or two steps ahead of you. Ask them the ‘stupid’ questions and the things that seem silly or small; soon enough you’ll be the sophomore or junior pulling the newbies up the ladder with you.” - Christina Wallace, Director of Startup Institute NY, Cofounder of Quincy
“It’s worthwhile to have mentors — you just have to find the right one, because the wrong mentor is a waste of time. How to get mentors? Say, ‘Hey, I have a big problem with X. You’re an expert. Can I please come pick your smart brain for 15 minutes?'” - Catherine Hoke, founder and CEO of Defy Ventures
On Admitting to your Own Mistakes
Want pro tips on how to hire for company values?
“No startup is going to succeed without some degree of risk on the part of the founder. Ideally, you’ll have the personality to cope with and even thrive in an uncertain environment. If the stove is too hot for you, you’ll want to get out of the kitchen before the soup is ready.” - Alexandra Levit, President of Inspiration at Work
And Some Bonus Advice!
“Surround yourself with people who do have experience…hire the best people possible. Hire everybody who you think is smarter than you are in all of the areas that you know the least.” - Dana Settle, co-founder and partner of Greycroft Partners
- "...[W]e slowly realized that if we put more time into making sure we attracted great people and then trusted them to experiment, remarkable, unexpected things can happen." - Kevin Huynh, COO of CreativeMornings
"I don't think it's necessary to be in the same office [as your team] every day. It's true that it's hard to build a company culture when you don't live in the same place, but there are also downsides to continually being side-by-side. You can be distracting to each other, and it's easier to lose the forest for the trees. Everything about a startup is hard. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do anything. You'll find successful companies (and plenty of unsuccessful companies) with all types of makeup." - Gillian Morris, CEO of Hitlist
- "The single most critical thing is to have a strong idea that can be articulated in one catchy and compelling soundbite that captures people's imaginations when they hear it and makes them want to know more." - Cindy Gallop, Founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty
“If your only goal in your business is to make money, don’t bother. Find something you can be passionate about and run with it. Find other people who are committed to the same cause or passion as you, and divide and conquer.” - Blair Nastasi, Founder and CEO of Media Moguls PR
"Don't be cocky. You don't know it all. Learn more, hear out others and make strong connections. Always have a clear goals, from a personal and business standpoint. Also, have fun. Lots of it."- Jeffrey Fermin, Co-Founder of Officevibe
Wherever you may be in your entrepreneurship journey, there’s someone who has been there before. Be open to the thoughts and advice of others who have been in your shoes!
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.