This article is written by Jeremiah Uke, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.
Dan is a serial entrepreneur having built several multi-million-dollar technology companies starting at the age of 17. He’s also an award-winning angel investor, having invested in companies like Intercom, Udemy, Hootsuite, Unbounce. Today he’s an executive coach focused exclusively on B2B SaaS working with the founders from ClickFunnels.com, Proposify.com, Carrot.com, and many others to help scale their businesses.
We hosted Dan in our live interview series. In this interview, he’s questioned by Amy Cosper, former Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur magazine. He tells us about his journey through technology, some of the biggest lessons he has learnt, and how he sees the eco-system in the current light of things.
While mentioning that believing in your capabilities is one of the only ways to survive these times as an entrepreneur, Dan added that you can do better by controlling the variables you are able to at the moment. These variables mostly include your expenditure and your next moves. It’s important to not feed bad information to your mind. While the situation of the pandemic is quite bad, business-wise there is more capital available. There are even more people available for hiring.
Using the race car analogy, being a driver, you go where you look. This applies to entrepreneurship as well. As a founder, you are the driver and your startup is your car. It’s a bad idea to focus on all the bad stuff, the eternal optimism even when all odds look bad is embedded into the entrepreneurship journey. There is no better time to create, pivot and innovate than now.
On his experience working with leaders, Dan mentioned the importance of coaching to success. Taking time out to talk to the natural leaders we find on a daily basis and using those opportunities to coach those people. Many teams succeed because the coach knows how to place the team members properly. At first it’s important to be clear on a positive future outcome, then constantly make measures to find where you are on that journey, and lastly making sure that there’s a routine for constant communication.
It’s also important to note the difference between leadership and management. Leadership has more to do with inspiring excellence in people. A lot of great leaders are not good managers and Amy Cosper cited herself as a good example of this. Many entrepreneurs often get this wrong too, trying to dig their hands in running everything for their team. Dan mentioned Facebook as a good example where Mark Zuckerberg does not exactly get involved with everything but leaves Shery Sandberg to run things.
Entrepreneurs originally like chaos a lot so they are more likely to request for a business model switch or a website redesign when things are actually very stable for the team. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be able to make assessments and find your strengths, to determine what is best for your team.