One of the advices I would give to early stage entrepreneurs is to read the book titled: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was written by Stephen Covey and it’s one of the best selling books of all time (25 million copies sold). I was surprised how many entrepreneurs are not familiar with the principles that have been described by this knowledgeable author. That’s why I would like to summarize shortly this book and highly reccomend to read for all who are starting their own ventures.
In his book Mr. Covey describes that any human if he wants to become “life effective and efficient”, should possess several habits. I personally think that many successful people implicitly have these habits. However, if you will make them explicit, you’d be better person and reach your goals faster.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit one teaches thaht you should take initiative in life by acting. Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow. So, for entrerpeneur this means noone except you will tell you which decision to make and which road to take. But, if you have chosen one, work very hard to reach the goal. This leads us to the second habit.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
This is just about goals. An answer to a questions why? and what? Habit 2 focus on figuring out what you want and working backwards — as opposed to observing what everyone else is doing and just trying to beat them. I believe that 99% of humans think no more than a week ahead. To be a visionary like Steve you need to think not for the year ahead, but a life ahead, even the lives of your children.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 3 focuses on doing what is important, not necessarily what is urgent. The two are definitely not the same. This is about prioritization, planning and implementation of important things. Extremely useful habit for an entrepreneur. Dealing with uncertainty is not an easy task. It always gives your multiple choices what to do. An effective entrepreneur shoud be as much focused as possible. As one CEO said about his strategic focus: “Two inches wide two miles deep.”
Upon further reflection, I realized that my adoption of habits 4 – 6 have in large part contributed to why I developed such strong client skills at such a young age at McKinsey (relative to my same aged peer group at the time). I’ll summarize these habits here and hopefully you’ll be able to see why this has been the case for me and how you might be able to do the same:
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
This is about reaching mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. In attracting first clients (as well as other people from your life), its very useful to find a solution to a problem where everybody wins. While this is simple in concept, it takes extra effort to implement in practice. Eventually this leads us to a better long-term orientation in life and value created for the whole ecosystem.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
How often we were thinking that we’re listening to our friends, or family, or even first clients having already in mind something that we wanted to express or to sell? I think very often. The key point here is to ACTIVELY listen. Showing and confirming that you UNDERSTOOD what someone was saying creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.
Habit 6: Synergize
Combine the strengths of people or business organizations through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals with a win/win attitude. The principle of habit 6 for entrerpeneur is vital for his/her startup. In a search for business model entrepreneur should recognize and unleash the needs of clients and their problems. He should not simply to sell his product (that may be noone wants) but to understand what both client and your are trying to accomplish (Habit 5), and come up with a win/win solution that gets everyone more of what they want.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
This habit is about reaching sustainable, and effective lifestyle. Personally for me it is about creating a harmony between four main parts of any human: Spirit, Body, Intellect, Heart (Emotions and Feelings). It primarily emphasizes exercise for renewal and exercising all of these parts in order to reach new horizons. It’s also about the meaning of your life, which gives you motivation to make your life time accomplishments. As author also says It’s thinking not only about you, but about society you’re living in. From entrepreneurs’ point of view this could be perceived as why I should start that in a long run, what am I trying to achieve and what value to bring?
Though, I have briefly summarized the 7 Habits book, I know that I have not done them justice. It is still worth reading 7 Habits as the explanations and examples really help one to internalize the key ideas.
I’ve found also the following infographics produced by visual.ly that is worth to see.