In Casey Graham, I have the privilege of working for one of the great entrepreneurs in the Christian community.  His desire to serve pastors and church leaders by simplifying their lives is why he founded The Rocket Company.

This organization helps churches increase weekly giving and pastors preach better sermons.  To read why I now work for this organization, please click here.  It is a privilege to join Casey and his team in their efforts.

Leaders can learn much from great entrepreneurs like Casey.  In the March edition of Inc magazine, seven of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs share their most important lessons learned when just starting out.

As I read the article, I gleaned seven practices of these successful entrepreneurs:

  1. Flexibility – Cosmetics mogul Bobbi Brown says, “When you come from another country by yourself, you’re naturally entrepreneurial.  You’re used to figuring it out as you go.”
  2. Willing Partnerships – Smart leaders work with those who want to work with them.  Daymond John, CEO of FUBU says, “It’s always better to do business with people who respect you.  When you go around begging for favors, it doesn’t get you far.”
  3. Admit Mistakes – Getting started can be messy.  Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar, faced a crisis with pricing early in the company’s history.  She says, “As an entrepreneur, you are constantly in sales mode – you are selling to customers, investors, the people who work for you.  But you have to be honest when things aren’t going right, and you have to fix them as quickly as you can.  These were key issues for us that we had to solve or die.”
  4. Determination – The legendary Richard Branson says, “If you have a good idea, 99% of people will tell you why it’s no good or how it’s been done before or why else you’re going to fall flat on your face…If you fail, pick yourself up and try another one.  If you have enough determination, you will succeed more likely than not because of all you learned those times you didn’t.”
  5. Self-Evaluation – Music executive Clive Davis says, “I realized there comes a time when you have to evaluate what you, personally, simply cannot do.  It’s not delegating.  It’s realizing you really need someone else to strengthen your organization and help you foresee trends you might overlook.”
  6. Exercise Wisdom – Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems, has had some negative experiences with investors.  She wisely warns, “I don’t believe all VC’s are adversarial, but the first thing I tell everyone is: Get your own lawyer.  Don’t buy lines like, ‘You guys are busy: we’ll just have someone draw up some papers, and it will be very pro forma.’  Yeah, right.”
  7. Focus – Tony Hawk, skateboarding legend and CEO of Tony Hawk Inc, says, “It’s easy to lose focus.  Don’t…I could finally do what was best for skaters again…These days it’s easier for me to turn down opportunities that don’t fit the brand.  I have the confidence to say no.”

Flexibility, Willing Partnerships, Admit Mistakes, Determination, Self-Evaluate, Exercise Wisdom, and Focus.  If you master these seven practices, you too may be a successful entrepreneur.

What is one thing on this list that you can do today to improve your leadership?

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