The Real Secret to Entrepreneurial Success (That's Not What You Think) Here's why meetings (yes that's right, meetings) are actually the secret to entrepreneurial success, if you do them well consistently.

By John Boitnott

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Is there "one weird trick" that will serve every entrepreneur well, no matter what their business model or industry might be? Yes, I think there is. But it's decidedly un-sexy and even unpopular these days.

It's regular meetings. Yes, really.

The ongoing crisis did nothing to help the cause of meetings. Corralling your employees onto Zoom calls might have made meetings a little more convenient, but most folks still think these events are a waste of time and money, and that they're excruciating exercises in futility. And, there are even some who say meetings should be abolished altogether if possible.

Related: Hire Your Next Remote Team Member from One of These 20 U.S. Tech Hubs

In my experience, however, the problem isn't meetings themselves. It's bad meetings. Inefficient meetings. Meetings that aren't planned or run well. Meetings themselves are crucial to ongoing business growth, employee engagement and financial success. Here are four reasons why you should take all the criticism they get with a grain of salt.

1. Meeting with upper-level leaders encourages brainstorming and feedback

It's crucial to have unstructured weekly or biweekly time with all VPs (or equivalent) for brainstorming and getting/giving feedback. The more your business grows, the more difficult this can be. Yet it's crucial to touch base as a group to check in with each other and to give (and receive) immediate feedback on new ideas and suggestions.

A quick meeting with your upper-level managers and leaders helps create more creative, positive interaction, which fosters the free flow and exchange of new ideas and concepts. That, in turn, is how new product and service lines begin to take shape. The phrase "meeting of the minds" is especially appropriate here: when you regularly bring together your top talent to explore new possible challenges for the company, you'll actually get more creative thinking and problem-solving from that talent in return.

Related: Use These 7 Emotional Intelligence Tips to Be a Better Leader

2. Meetings help you lead and identify future leaders

Regular staff meetings are effective in developing company leadership. Use these meetings to rally the troops, remind them of important goals and inspire them to challenge themselves and achieve more.

What's more, by observing carefully how individual employees engage with and participate in the meetings over time, you can spot those with innate leadership qualities and offer them further training and entry-level management opportunities as they arise.

3. Regular meetings foster teamwork and unity

It's hard to feel connected to colleagues you rarely see. Holding regular staff meetings, even if they're just online, gives all of your employees a valuable opportunity for face time with each other. That face-to-face interaction, combined with the meeting's discussions about company goals, helps your staff feel more like a cohesive team.

Your staff's sense of teamwork and unity can also be strengthened by taking the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate achievements as a group. By making individual, team or departmental wins something the entire company is part of, you'll increase the sense of connectedness and cohesion.

Related: Make Sure to Ask Yourself These 3 Business Questions for 2021

4. Meetings help identify and solve problems.

A regularly-scheduled check-in with your company's employees and leaders helps you stay abreast of how projects are developing, empowering you to spot potential problems before they become significant obstacles. Often, addressing problems promptly means you'll spend less time, energy and money on resolving the situation.

Additionally, when you encourage your employees to bring their problems to the regular meeting, you give them an opportunity to seek input and assistance from their coworkers. Another employee or team might have dealt with something similar and could offer constructive suggestions to resolve the issue.

Tips for improving the quality of your meetings

Follow these simple tips for more productive meetings:

  • When possible, hold certain meetings in person and make attendance mandatory. You'll probably get some pushback on regular meetings, but that can diminish over time as they become more valuable.

  • If the meeting is a remote one, don't require that people show live video of themselves at all times. Make meeting attendance easier by allowing team members to go "audio-only."

  • Incorporate stand-and-stretch breaks if your meetings last an hour or so. Even just 60 seconds on their feet will help your attendees retain focus and positive participation.

  • Set an agenda that contains only a few items, and keep it flexible enough to encourage and allow for related discussion to take place. Keep the agenda similar from week to week, so people know what to expect and are ready to provide input and feedback at the appropriate point.

  • Establish a time limit for each meeting. A half-hour may be all you need with a small staff, if you can keep the meeting running smoothly and encourage participants to be succinct.

Related: 4 Key Steps to Motivate Employees to Finish Work Projects

As a leader at your company, it is sometimes important to lean in to things you don't enjoy. Meetings might just be an example of this for you. Instead of drastically reducing their number, bank on the fact that they'll help your bottom line, and improve their quality however you can. In the end, you may see an uptick in team cohesion and creative thinking, which are ultimately vital to the success of your venture.

Wavy Line
John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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