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7 Ways to Lead Successful Entrepreneurial Teams

7 Ways to Lead Successful Entrepreneurial Teams
Image credit: Portra Images | Getty Images

As anyone who’s ever started a company should know, there isn’t a simplistic formula for success in entrepreneurship.

Whether you are part of a founding team or running your business solo, building your business from the ground up comes with diverse risks and roadblocks. On a daily basis, startup founders confront issues internally, from building the product to developing the business strategy and, externally, when dealing with factors such as shifts in consumer behavior and economic and market decline.

Here are seven ways you can rise above these challenges and lead a winning entrepreneurial team:

1. Lead with purpose.

Startups require strong leaders that can mobilize teams to move fast, and with purpose. Given the grueling hours and sacrifices often needed to work at a startup, seek team leaders who can inspire teams in tough times by championing the mission and meaningful contributions of the company. Leaders should be able to intuitively lead with purpose and establish cohesive units that are equipped to troubleshoot and withstand any setback.

2. Express your vision, regularly.

A leader’s ability to draw the course and drive the team in the right direction is critical in achieving success for the company. Articulate your product roadmap, as well as your short-term and long-term goals for the company and each individual. Show why problems need to be addressed and paint a picture of why your solution matters to the world. A strong entrepreneurial team should be able to visualize the problem it is solving and communicate it in a way that their audience can quickly understand.  

Related: Why Leadership Hinges Upon What You Do -- Not Who You Are

3. Be willing to listen.

The enterprise should benefit from the collective wisdom and experience of the community. A highly valued but underused skill is knowing when and how to listen. As your team members are at the frontline of each task, you must know when to accede to their views and perspectives. In addressing an issue at hand, take advice from key parties and then analyze and incorporate recommended strategies as needed.

4. Know when to innovate.

Failure to innovate can present risks of losing ground to rival companies and even losing key members of your team.

Related: 10 Behaviors of Real Leaders

However, innovation doesn’t mean continually creating new products or processes. This can waste resources and slow the team’s productivity. Know when to stick to your vision and business plan or when to improve, create and even reinvent your product or service. By listening to your team, investors and most importantly, your customers, you will be better able to anticipate trends and shifts in the market.  

5. Manage with existing resources.

Excellent managers focus on developing their team’s unique strengths and taking advantage of what they already do well. As you deliver your business plan, know the limitations of your talent pool and effectively manage your scarce resources. With data and experience, regularly review your activities and team to oversee that they are on track, on time and on budget, but don’t be afraid to take charge when you need to scale up resources.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

6. Be quick to decide in uncertain times.

In business, there is not always the luxury of time, data or complete resources to contemplate decisions. Exemplary leaders have the impressive ability to make quick, yet well-informed decisions, even in uncertain times. With a tinkering entrepreneurial team, don’t hesitate to make firm and intelligent decisions quickly and move on to the next phase of growth for your company.

7. Attract the top talent.

It will be difficult to attract the best talent if they cannot grasp what their future looks like as an employee of your company. Communicate benefits and opportunities for professional growth to every current and potential employee. If employees are unclear about what’s at stake as a member of your team, chances are, they won’t hesitate to walk away. Employees must find themselves so heavily involved in the success (or failure) of the business that they would invest their own resources or take a significant pay cut in exchange for equity.