Lists ev­ery en­tre­pre­neur should cre­ate

Lesotho Times - - Jobs & Tenders - An­drew Co­hen

BE­ING a startup founder who is ob­sessed with my own per­sonal growth, I fre­quently get sucked into blog posts with ti­tles like “The top 5 traits of all suc­cess­ful en­trepreneurs.” Th­ese ar­ti­cles tend to cite char­ac­ter­is­tics such as pas­sion, per­sis­tence, in­spi­ra­tion, an eye for tal­ent, a data-driven mind­set, great com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, and the abil­ity to gal­va­nize team mem­bers to­ward a com­mon longterm vi­sion.

Yet there’s one ex­tremely crit­i­cal skill that I never seem to hear any­one talk­ing about: list man­age­ment.

This skill may not sound sexy, but there is ab­so­lutely no way an en­tre­pre­neur can suc­ceed with­out ob­ses­sively main­tain­ing up­dated lists of all re­sources and projects that will con­trib­ute to his or her en­deavor’s suc­cess. Such lists may be in the form of spread­sheets, Ever­note files, con­tact lists, Sales­force files, Drop­box fold­ers, Trello boards, pa­per to-do lists or any num­ber of other ac­ces­si­ble for­mats. What­ever the pre­ferred style of list man­age­ment, lead­ers of all types must con­stantly be able to rec­og­nize three things:

con­ver­sa­tion agen­das Talk­ing points for your up­com­ing weekly team and/or in­di­vid­ual meet­ings. I like to have at least two to three bul­lets ready for all my sched­uled dis­cus­sions. I tend to just keep th­ese talk­ing points on a writ­ten notepad by my desk. Your email in­box Cor­re­spon­dence that re­quires ac­tion. The most suc­cess­ful en­trepreneurs are ob­ses­sive about ar­chiv­ing emails that have al­ready been ad­dressed, so that any­thing still in the In­box is es­sen­tially a form of short-term “todo list.”

Any emails rep­re­sent­ing longer-term projects should ei­ther be im­me­di­ately trans­mit­ted to an­other form of to-do list, or should be “snoozed” to come back to later (by us­ing a tool such as Boomerang, Mail­box or Google In­box). My per­sonal goal is to reach in­box zero at the end of each day (although that rarely hap­pens). Blog posts to write Ideas for ar­ti­cles you’d like to write, ei­ther for your blog, Linkedin and/or for a ma­jor pub­li­ca­tion as a guest au­thor. You should add to this list when­ever a good blog post idea pops into your head. You can chip away at this list ei­ther by sched­ul­ing some regular weekly writ­ing time or by just sav­ing the list for when­ever you have some “down time.” Mar­ket­ing ideas Ideas for slo­gans, ad cam­paigns, giveaways, con­tests, pro­mo­tional videos, email blasts, brand am­bas­sador ac­tiv­i­ties and any other mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives that you might want to ex­plore at some point.

Brain­scape main­tains a shared Google spread­sheet where ev­ery­one on the mar­ket­ing team can add their ideas and re­view pri­or­i­ties at our weekly meet­ings.

to read Nov­els or non­fic­tion books that will some­how make you a bet­ter en­tre­pre­neur. This list of­ten tends to grow faster than you can attack it. One use­ful tool is to record the per­son who rec­om­mended the book to you, so you can re­mem­ber to thank them once you do read it (even if it is years later). I keep this list in the stan­dard Notes app on my iphone. See this link for other tips on how en­trepreneurs should read busi­ness books. Fu­ture busi­ness ideas Ideas for com­pa­nies that you might want to start one day, when or if you ever exit your cur­rent com­pany. As James Al­tucher writes, your “idea mus­cle” can get weak when you’re in a groove, so be sure to write down the ideas when they come to you! My own list cur­rently has sev­eral dozen busi­ness ideas (most of them pretty dumb, but still worth record­ing).

Hav­ing spent a lot of time with en­trepreneurs over the past few years, I have found that the most suc­cess­ful founders tend to be those who are most ob­sessed with keep­ing such lists for ev­ery­thing in their lives.

Even founders who have suf­fered from ADHD (which ac­tu­ally tends to be a com­mon en­tre­pre­neur­ial trait) are typ­i­cally very good at main­tain­ing or­ga­nized lists -- pos­si­bly be­cause they once had to com­pen­sate for for­get­ful­ness as a stu­dent.

If you don’t think you are good at lists your­self, feel free to copy some of my list ideas as a start­ing point, and you’ll find that it gets eas­ier and eas­ier over time.

Have an en­tre­pre­neur­ial list type of your own? Feel free to share it in the com­ments sec­tion be­low!

— En­tre­pre­neur

Pew re­spon­dents say or­ga­ni­za­tion (67 per­cent) and com­pas­sion (57 per­cent) are im­por­tant, and Zenger and Folk­man be­lieve in strate­gic vi­sion.

And each of th­ese are com­po­nents of con­sci­en­tious­ness. Con­sci­en­tious­ness is a mea­sure of how or­ga­nized, thought­ful and for­ward­think­ing an in­di­vid­ual is.

Good lead­ers are highly or­ga­nized, both in­di­vid­u­ally and when it per­tains to their teams; they sym­pa­thize with their em­ploy­ees and pro­vide thought­ful feed­back and sup­port; and they have both short-term and long-term goals for the team that drive the team’s ev­ery­day projects.

Bill Gates, com­ment­ing on lead­er­ship in the 21st cen­tury, once said,

“As we look ahead into the next cen­tury, lead­ers will be those who em­power oth­ers.” Good lead­ers do more than just in­spire oth­ers through ac­tion, they em­power the peo­ple they work with by build­ing trust, en­cour­ag­ing and be­ing open to cre­ative so­lu­tions, mak­ing con­fi­dent de­ci­sions that re­flect the best in­ter­ests of their em­ploy­ees and or­ga­ni­za­tion, and be­ing thought­ful, or­ga­nized strate­gic plan­ners who think about the big­ger pic­ture and how all their em­ploy­ees con­trib­ute to that suc­cess.

— En­tre­pre­neur

Main­tain up­dated lists of all re­sources and projects that will con­trib­ute toy­our en­deavor’s suc­cess.

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