When you work in a traditional role in a large corporation, you slowly climb up through the ranks, and often, you’re not promoted into a leadership role until you’ve had plenty of time to actually develop leadership skills. As an entrepreneur, however, you may not have had the luxury of being mentored in leadership, and that can leave you struggling to teach yourself to lead overnight. Your leadership skills – or lack thereof – could make or break your company. You need to make it a point to seek mentorship and put yourself into situations in which you’ll have the chance to learn how to lead, so that you can steer your company towards success.
1) Join a Professional Organization for Entrepreneurs
Membership in a quality professional organization for entrepreneurs can give you the chance to network with other business leaders and take part in formal leadership training. You could also gain access to healthcare, personal mentorship from a more experienced business leader, online forums where you can share and discuss your challenges, and other perks. For example, some organizations offer discounts on products, travel, and business services; others offer editorial help with content development and brand-building.
Many of these organizations offer frequent events where you can participate in case studies, network with investors, and even find financing. Startup Grind, for example, hosts dozens of events every month, while The Entrepreneur’s Club hosts 10 events each year.
2) Enroll in an Online MBA
You might not need an MBA in order to run a successful business, but entrepreneurs who succeed without one are more the exception than the rule. You might turn out to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates – but then again, you might not. MBA classes will teach you the leadership and business skills you need, so you won’t have to learn how to run your business through trial and error. That’s important, because attending the School of Hard Knocks means running the risk that one of those knocks will be too hard to get back up from. Do you really want to put your business on the line like that?
Online MBA programs in California and around the country let you earn your degree wherever you are, and on your own time. You’ll get the chance to network with other entrepreneurs and business people, while learning leadership and management skills and becoming more familiar with the latest communications and business technology. Some programs even offer specializations in entrepreneurship, management, and responsible business strategies.
3) Find a Mentor
Just because you’re running your own company doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the guidance of a mentor. If you don’t know where to look, remember that many entrepreneurs’ organizations will set you up with a more experienced mentor; later, when you’re more experienced, you can pay it forward by offering the benefit of your experience to another young business leader just starting out. Use networking events and conferences as chances to bond with possible mentors and advisors. Don’t put all your eggs in one mentorship basket; branch out, so you can get multiple perspectives.
4) Attend Conferences and Events
Conferences and events give you the chance to network with other entrepreneurs, find mentorship opportunities, make new friends, meet potential future employees, and much more. You’ll be able to hear from successful CEOs and entrepreneurs as they share their journeys to success. Many events for entrepreneurs offer seminars and training opportunities that can help you build leadership skills you haven’t had a chance to develop in more traditional settings. Some even offer courses in business strategy and finances to help you make better decisions.
5) Lobby Investors to Pay for Leadership Training
Investors give your business money because they’re confident in your products and services and want to hitch their wagons to your financial success. So, they shouldn’t be too leery of financing activities that can help your company succeed in the long term. It’s not all about short-term growth; the better your company does in the long term, the more money your investors will make. Don’t be afraid to lobby them for leadership training; it should be a part of your budget for both you and your team, and investors should be convinced to see these investments as beneficial to their returns, because they help guarantee the long-term health of the business.
Building leadership skills as an entrepreneur may not be easy, but it’s far from impossible. Seek opportunities for training and mentorship, and not only will you grow as a leader, your business will be all the stronger for it.