I started contributing to my father’s clothing business when I was very young. I still remember he would take me to his business unit on weekends and would ask me to see if someone needs any help. I took a lot of pride asking workers if they need any assistance or not. Although, most of them would smile and politely refuse to this small kid.
Little did I know, my earlier days at his warehouse were my first steps on the road of entrepreneurship. When I grew up, after working as a web designer for some years, I gathered the courage to act upon my dream. Sure, the journey had lots of ups and downs but was worth every effort. Unaware that I was embarking myself on a yet another exciting adventure - the journey from an entrepreneur to a leader.
The Road to Leadership
From the time I’ve started as an entrepreneur, I’ve realized that entrepreneurship is synonymous with leadership. In both the roles, you are either leading yourself or a group of individuals to work for a shared goal. As the responsibilities will overlap at one point or the another, it won’t be wrong to say that entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with leadership.
I would like to share some lessons that I’ve learned during my journey from being an entrepreneur to a leader:
When I was 13 years old, as a part of a school project, I casually asked my father, “Dad! How many people are working for us in our factory?” He was reading a newspaper, he stopped reading and said something I won’t forget ever. He said, “Sandeep, these people don’t work for me, they work with me.” I could sense empathy in his voice and gravitas in the words.
As I progressed and matured, I learned more about the business and the people. I borrowed a few things from my father; it was common for him to shake his hand or pat them on the back whenever he encountered them. I learned that it’s the little things like these matter the most.
As it’s impossible for us to do everything alone, thus it’s important to motivate, encourage, and guide those around us.
When you are an entrepreneur, your focus is to get the best clients, make large revenues, and strategize to outsmart the competition. When you are in a leadership position, you are doing everything like that of an entrepreneur, just two more things get added to the list - impacting lives and taking care of your team members.
When you are leading an organization, your focus shifts from things to the people you are working with and for. You start making decisions that could possibly leave a positive impact on your customers and team members likewise.
This could mean going out of your way like calling your current customers and thanking them, planning an employee appreciation day, or writing a thoughtful blog sharing your experience and lessons to inspire others.
Before actually taking up a leadership position, I used to see leadership as a difficult code but once you’ve cracked it, you become a leader for life. Obviously, I was wrong. Leadership not only involves constantly updating yourself with the new trends and technologies but is a lifelong commitment to continuously learn, update, and apply.
The role doesn’t end as soon as you get out of your office. In fact, the real aspect of it starts afterward when you are tirelessly working to create a lifestyle learning something new every day, being decisive, and embracing change.
My only advice to all the young entrepreneurs out there who aspire to lead is to read - as much as you can and as long as you can. I completely second John F. Kennedy’s words, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
Last few words…
Since the day I’ve embarked on this journey called entrepreneurship, I’ve taken home some invaluable insights about business, leadership, and life every single day.
One such insight I really want to share is that there is no exact definition of leadership. I see so many people putting up an artificial public persona that is ‘leader-like’.
Leaders can be introverts, extroverts, funny or serious, but they must be authentic. It’s not wise you get a label or title of a leader for somebody you’re not. Real leaders are the ones who focus on being their better version with every passing day, inspire and bring value to the life of people who are working with them.
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