Be a better Entrepreneur in 2016

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When you were a start-up entrepreneur, you have most likely worked alone, braving through the long days and lonely nights. You had bought your trading goods alone; processed and sold them from the trunk of your beaten up sedan. You were turned down several times over by your prospective customers and bankers. As your business grew, you employed more hands to help you sell more goods and keep the records. You occasionally failed to meet payroll or pay your suppliers as bills fall due. Over the last year, 2015, your business, hopefully, was profitable. It is likely that you also lost some money on failed deals and/or opportunities. No matter, there is one thing permanent about life of entrepreneurship: At different stages of your business, different challenges will assuredly continue to confront you. Whilst this may be part of the excitement and thrill, you have to be consciously ready for them if you are to stand a chance of survival and success.

In addition to the above, social and demographic factors are in continuous flux. Educational progress and technological advances are making more information (and choices) available to your customers on demand. Economic circumstances continuously affect the purchasing power of your customers. All these affect the tastes, expectations and demands of your current and prospective customers. To position your enterprise for success, you have to understand the dynamic interactions of all these factors and more.

A key challenge for you is to be ready to work really smart and hard, to maintain a level head in all situations, and at the same time beat and stay ahead of competition. This requirement demands that you constantly update yourself with current and relevant information in various fields; develop your knowledge, and refine your skills. There are three dimensions to personal readiness thusly: emotional, mental, and physical. . These are prerequisites for a ‘turbo-charged’ personal effectiveness.

As I always remind entrepreneurs, most positive changes must start from within the individual.  You should therefore identify specific areas you need to work on to develop yourself into a more effective entrepreneur in 2016. To do this, the first thing you should do is to create the time to introspect. A time like this provides such an opportunity. Sit back alone, in an environment you are always happy being in and that is free of distractions. With only a pen and plain sheet of paper(s), take your time, possibly over a few sessions, and think through your key issues in detail. Take notes and decisions on a few but fundamental areas. At the end of the exercise, you should have a summary of clearly identified objectives, goals and action plans.

First, reflect:

Your pace as an entrepreneur is relentlessly fast. Unless you deliberately create the time for ‘reflection’, you will continuously remain engrossed in all sorts of activities without regard to their value contribution. Creating time to reflect provides you with the opportunities to really make tough assessments and put things in their proper perspectives. Reflect on the things you did right and well, as well as those you bungled. Be happy and gracious about those you did right. On the other hand, understand what caused your failures and think of what you can do to avoid recurrences. Be lenient on yourself and others involved. Learn from your colleagues, partners and other associates, and then focus on what you can do in the future to improve your overall personal effectiveness. The better and more detailed you are able to reflect, the better you are able to know yourself and understand what works for you. Identify specific areas you need to improve upon. Realise though, that we tend to do disproportionately much better relatively easier in our areas of strengths than in our areas of weaknesses. Professionals advise, therefore, that we should spend more time and effort to getter even better in our areas of strengths than in areas of our weaknesses. Nevertheless, we should seek to strike a balance between the two.

Identify and be clear about your next goals:

You need to be very clear about your personal development goals. To do this, you should first identify your strengths and weaknesses. Identify which areas of your knowledge you need to develop upon and which skills you need to further sharpen. What are, for instance, your social skills? Which areas would you need to refine? Would you need to improve your negotiating skills? Would you also need to improve your technical knowledge on a particular issue? Whatever your personal goals, you should understand where you are now and where you want to get to. Be very clear and specific, and plan to take measured steps within the year. Ultimately, your goals should include improving specific aspects of both your social skills and technical knowledge. Seek to pursue a balanced personal development program.

Plan to develop yourself:

Having identified and set your goals, your next challenge should be to plan exactly how you want to achieve each objective. If for instance you aspire to develop your knowledge in supply chain management, you may plan to buy and read some books on the subject; attend an offshore training program; and attend two up-coming local workshops within the year. Your plan should then cover all necessary details such as timelines, funding, any travel visas, etc. The idea is that you shouldn’t be vague on how you want to achieve the objectives. Reading business news, industry reports, ‘how to’ books, biographies, etc. are easy ways to build up your knowledge reservoir almost effortlessly on various topical issues.

Organise your routine:

Your personal effectiveness is highly dependent on your ability to organise your activities. How you allocate your time and energy to the varied activities and commitments you need to discharge will determine how much you are able to get done. Organising your time and activities starts with the right mindset. You should make the best use of your time productively but at the same time be realistic about constraints. Remember, we all have 24 hours in a day. Understand what time of the day and/or night you best perform certain tasks. It is surprising how much time, for instance, we waste in between tasks, commute etc. You should also work on your space organisation. This helps wonderfully in de-cluttering the mind. There are various simple tools that can help you organise your schedule of activities. These tools are readily available in various options, from the physical to the electronic. In spite of the vagaries and realities of entrepreneurial activities, creating a routine, even if fluid, will help enhance your effectiveness. Understand what works best for you and leverage on it.

Resolve to act:

It is not enough to set goals, plan and organise your activities. The ultimate test, and which makes it possible to deliver results is ‘action’. All the information, tools and resources we have remain just that. They only add value if we put them to use. You have to identify all factors that inhibit you from acting when you should and work to eliminate them. Taking actions when you should is a great confidence builder and a precursor to success. Always have a time frame within which certain things must get done. Remember that nothing positive happens unless you act.  In fact, if you do not act when you should, things do not just remain as they are. They actually always tend to atrophy.

Develop relationships:

 Of all the resources we have, relationships are the most valuable and ironically the ones we are inclined to take for granted the most. And this can come at great and long-term costs. Think of your existing relationships that have been supportive of you at virtually no cost to you. Recognise and appreciate the effort and support of all those that helped you in your wins and times of need. From family to friends, business colleagues, partners and associates, various people would have most likely supported your endeavour in one way or another. Do you realise that some of them do not even believe in what we are trying to do, yet give us benefit of the doubt? Think of how exactly you can deepen these relationships and widen up to cultivate new ones. Identify what is valuable in each relationship and seek ways to develop it. Relationships are normally built and developed on very simple factors such as integrity, support, understanding etc. Recognise the peculiarity of each relationship and seek to nurture it in its on ways. Developing and nurturing healthy relationships should be a sincere endeavour. The corollary also is that you should keep away from suffocating and destructive relationships. You shouldn’t spare any time or emotional energy on them.


Mental and physical exercises are key to your health, feelings, thoughts and ability to act physically. So, do not forget to include a reasonable measure of exercises in your personal development program. Regular exercise is proven to reduce stress levels, boost self-confidence, enhance cognitive function and improve energy levels, among several other benefits. Your age, body type etc. may determine the type and level of exercise you can engage in. No matter, you should consult a professional who can advise you on what best will suit you. Make out time to exercise and be regular and disciplined about it.


You should now have a page or two (definitely not more!) summary of key personal development goals you want to achieve The fewer, focused and more clearly defined the goals, the much better chance you stand to plan for and achieve them. Remember, the target is to work to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health so that you will be effective in discharging your responsibility as a business leader. The objective is that at the end of the year you should be able to look backward and be happy that you have become a much better entrepreneur, and your business results to show for it.

Have an entrepreneurial year!


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