Learning by Doing

By April 14, 2016 Startups

On entrepreneur.com, Richard Branson shares his business experience and advice in a column titled Richard Branson on Learning by Doing. Recently, in his response to a question asked by one of entrepreneur.com’s readers, Mr Branson said, “Successful entrepreneurs tend to be insatiably curious about almost everything, and often they are good at learning by doing. Their open-minded, can-do attitude is among their best assets.” He explained that it’s not important to “get hung up on this question of whether you need to have experience in an industry before you launch your startup. Instead, think about changes you’d like to see as a customer.”

However, Mr Branson cautions, an entrepreneur’s life can be rocky. Not all startups are successful. Most struggle for a while. Many fail. In his own words, he says, “Since we created the Virgin brand in 1970, we’ve launched something like 400 businesses. Though not all of them did well, we learned a lot from our failures.”  Probably, therein lies the secret of entrepreneurship: entrepreneurs are constantly taking risks with new ideas, learning from successes as well as failures, staying in the game long enough to make it a success, but moving on when the idea fails to take shape.

Like most companies, big and small, a startup’s success is depended on its motivated, cohesive and efficient team to produce and deliver the company’s products and services to its customers. In other words, hiring and retaining the right talent. After all, every single member of a small startup team has the potential to influence and impact the outcome of the company’s performance to a very high degree. So, how does an entrepreneur hire and manage talent for his or her startup firm?

On hiring talent, Mr Branson expresses his point of view with some flamboyance: “We look for people who want to bring radical change to an industry, give them the freedom to get creative and the backing of our brand, and then we step back and watch them fly.”

Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, has another perspective. In his blog The American CEO, Joe Trammell shares this quote from Jeff Bezos in a post titled, How CEOs Hire: Jeff Bezos on having an “explorer mentality”: “Some companies, if you wanted to put it into a single word, they have a conqueror mentality, and we have an explorer mentality. And the people who like our mentality of exploration and pioneering, they tend to stay here, and have fun here, and that’s self-reinforcing.”

And, according to a video published on the Startups web portal, this is what Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook had to say (in 2005, not too long after he started Facebook) about hiring the right people: “The first thing I look for when hiring is raw intelligence.” [Watch the video here: http://startups.co.uk/mark-zuckerberg-of-facebook-on-hiring-the-right-people-video/]

But, what about the other side of the story? What qualities or traits do we look for when we hire CEOs for startup enterprises?

In a recent article in Business Insider web portal, titled 17 Traits That Distinguish The Best Startup CEOs, Richard Feloni offers us a list of 17 traits we need to look for in hiring the best kind of startup CEO. Here are the first 9 of those traits as suggested by renowned blogger and analyst for Rackspace, Robert Scoble:

“…an elite startup CEO…

 1. [Is] good at hiring AND firing. Whenever you find a really great CEO you find someone who has a knack for hiring. That means selling other people on your dream or your business. Especially when it doesn’t seem all that important or seems very risky. I used to work for a CEO who was awesome at hiring, but couldn’t fire anyone. Doomed the business. Many of the best CEOs get others to follow no matter what.

 2. Builds a culture, not just a company. The best CEOs, like Tony Hsieh at Zappos, build a culture that gives everyone a mission. They stand out in a sea of boring companies.

 3. Listens and acts. Many CEOs want to tell you what they are doing, but the best ones listen to feedback, and, even, do something with that feedback. My favorites even give credit back. Mike McCue, CEO of Flipboard, tells audiences that I was responsible for a couple of key features.

 4. Is resilient. AirBnB took 1,000 days for its business to start working. Imagine if they gave up on day 999? The best CEOs find a way to dig in and keep going even when it seems everything is going against them.

 5. Has vision. Let’s be honest. There are a lot of nice CEOs, but if you don’t have the ability to build a product that matters to people, then no one will remember your name. Can you see a way to make billions with wearable computers? I guarantee some can, and they are the CEOs who will bring me interesting new products.

 6. Stays focused. A friend who worked for Steve Jobs told me that what really made him different is that Jobs wouldn’t let teams move off their tasks until they really finished them.

 7. Speaks clearly. A great CEO is clear, crisp, concise. Quotable. So many people just aren’t good at telling a story in a way that’s easy to remember. The best are awesome at this. Since it’s the CEO’s job to tell the company’s story, it’s extremely important that this person be able to clearly tell a story about the company and the product.

 8. Is a customer advocate. The best CEOs understand deeply what customers want and when they are making anti-customer choices.

 9. [Is] good at convincing other people. CEOs have to deal with conflicting interest groups. Customers often want something investors don’t. So, a good CEO is really great at convincing other people to get on board, even at changing people’s opinions.”

There are 8 more traits listed in the Business Insider article; all worth considering. Click on this link to access them: http://www.businessinsider.in/17-Traits-That-Distinguish-The-Best-Startup-CEOs/articleshow/31620677.cms

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts