5 Insights To Become A More Entrepreneurial Leader
We all know the slogans: “Fail fast and break things,” and “Ready, fire, aim.” They hold a kernel of truth, but if your really want to develop entrepreneurial thinking you need to dig deeper.
Dorie Clark has come out with a practical primer on how to become a more entrepreneurial leader. Here book from Harvard Business Review Press, Entrepreneurial You, provides an essential roadmap. (Disclosure: I was interviewed for the book.)
The book is in part fueled by her experience of getting laid off early in her career. She realized that she had to have a “portfolio approach” to her career to ensure that she would thrive.
In her book she lays out some key principles that everyone can use to think differently about their career and their business.
Develop multiple revenue streams. As Clark found out from personal experience, individuals and companies need to hedge against risk in the modern economy by developing multiple revenue streams. If you aren’t diversified and serve only a small number of clients, or only provide one product or service, you’re at serious risk of disruption. That’s not to say you should dilute your focus and do wildly different things, but if you find complementary ways to serve your existing audience (and people like them), you can garner a greater share of their wallet and make yourself indispensable.
Do not be daunted. We often overestimate the amount of competition we’re facing. In Entrepreneurial You, Clark cites a study by the researcher Josh Morgan showing that of the 200,000 podcasts operating in 2015 (the number has since grown), a mere 40% had published an episode in the previous six months. Many people get discouraged looking at the large number of aspirants, but you’re only competing against a select few. If you persist, most will wither away, leaving more opportunity for you.
You win before you launch. Execution matters, of course. But often, you win even before your launch if your strategy is solid. Clark profiles successful podcaster John Lee Dumas, who upended the podcasting world with his show, Entrepreneur on Fire. His innovation was to post new episodes daily instead of weekly. It took a much greater effort so others didn’t do that. But Dumas’ strategic bet — that more episodes would lead to more downloads, attracting sponsor interest and revenue — paid off enormously.
Align with influencers. In Entrepreneurial You, Clark shares the story of Derek Halpern, now a well-known blogger on psychology and business. Halpern had operated a celebrity gossip site prior to breaking into his new industry. Even thought he knew a great deal about online marketing and site layout, he had no contacts or credibility in his new field. To build these contacts, he approached the leading business bloggers and offered them a free critique of their websites, which he’d deliver via Skype, in order to help them optimize for conversions. If they found his advice helpful, their part of the bargain would be to post the video recording. Those recordings brought Halpern immediate credibility, because it showed him associating with, and providing advice to, leading figures in his new industry. Leveraging your skills and assets to align early on with influencers dramatically accelerates your trajectory.
Build trust through transparency. Clark tells the story of Pat Flynn, creator of the Smart Passive Income blog and podcast. Flynn was the first person to publicly share his “income reports,” detailing precise numbers about his revenues and expenses each month, so that readers could follow along and track his progress. “In order for me to really show people that this stuff actually worked, I needed to show people how much money I was making,” he told Clark. In return, that transparency has built massive amounts of trust with his readers, leading them to take his courses, purchase items through his affiliate links, and more. Flynn now regularly brings in more than $100,000 per month in income. Being open and honest with your audience has long-term benefits.
These days, everyone wants to take part in “the hustle.” To focus your efforts take some lessons from Clark’s Entrepreneurial You.
Alisa Cohn is an Executive Coach and speaker who works with startup CEOs and executives and Fortune 50 executives. Find find out more and sign up for her newsletter at www.AlisaCohn.com.
Originally published at www.forbes.com on October 3, 2017.