Entrepreneurship might appear glamorous. However, running a business is tough. This is evident from the fact that only about 50% of businesses with employees would survive after five years in business. As a first-generation business owner, Malini Agarwal has founded and helmed an exciting and evolving venture for over a decade. She is often approached by business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to share the secrets of her success. Therefore, she has consolidated some of her key learnings and presented them here:

Listen more than you speak

According to the Harvard Business Review, General Electric (GE) places listening as one of the core skills for its leaders. It is highly underrated but has tremendous potential to enable your growth as a business leader.

Unfortunately, we often listen to respond. Listening to respond instead of listening to understand can prevent the assimilation of thoughts. This would be useful when you are interacting with a host of entities such as clients, vendors, and employees.

Listening can also endear you to your team. It highlights the fact that you care for what they have to express.

Delegate to grow

According to a McKinsey study, approximately 72% of senior executives feel that their companies made bad decisions more often as compared to good ones. Micromanaging the tiniest detail or taking extended periods of time to arrive at a decision can be detrimental to business growth. Delegate the decision making to the right group of people, set a framework for them to follow, let the team debate the pros and cons of a solution and arrive at a solution. Be prepared to intervene in case disagreements spiral out of control.

Believe in yourself

Believing in yourself can reassure you of the fact that your goal is closer to you than what you imagined. It helps you in developing a positive attitude and working toward your goal. You can better control your thoughts and can overcome negative thoughts instantly.

Understand that you don’t always have to love every day for something to be your passion. Following the path of your passion might not always be easy. To build a life around your passion, you need to start by doing. Evaluate your progress from time to time, ensuring you allocate enough time to develop your skillset. No matter how hard, the greater the investment, the more you feel passionate about what you do.

Find people who can do your job so you can move on to greater things

Allocate/outsource mundane tasks that can help you focus on more important things. Allocating jobs can help you find time for things you always wanted to do like learning new skills, expanding your knowledge, etc. but couldn’t find time for it.

Stop selling and start helping! – Zig Ziglar

Kevin Spacey, the Hollywood thespian had famously quoted “If you are lucky enough to do well, it is your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”

Find ways to help others without any agenda. You would be surprised that such acts would often come back to reward you. You can figure out multiple ways to help people like sharing knowledge, sharing resources, making them aware of an opportunity without expecting anything in return.

Find a mentor and be a mentor

According to a survey, 92% of small business owners felt that a mentor has a major impact on growth. Find a mentor who believes in your potential and who is honest enough to guide you when the going gets tough. Clearly define your career goals and connect with like-minded professionals who are willing to guide and motivate you to succeed.

Once you reach a level where you are getting opportunities to mentor others, then go ahead and do it. If possible, set up a formal mentorship programme to ensure maximum benefit. Identifying and mentoring young talent helps you grow as an individual.

Always give credit where it’s due

Ensure that a person is awarded credit for their contribution regardless of their designation. Giving others credit for their contributions at the right time helps in building up trust and ensures that they perform in a way that is mutually beneficial.

Work hard, play hard

As a business owner, it is difficult to set boundaries. During the initial or scaling up periods you might end up working 24 x 7 x 365. However, it is important to maintain balance. Learn to draw boundaries and give time to your loved ones, health, and hobbies in equal measure. Let your hair down and party hard. You have earned it!

Accept your journey

Henry Ford believed that obstacles are those frightful things that one sees when one takes their eyes off their goal. Remember that every business person experiences her own unique journey. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your path with others. If you have faith in what you are doing and have set a goal, focus on working toward achieving it.


Malini Agarwal a.k.a MissMalini is the Founder & Creative Director of MissMalini Entertainment, a leading media lifestyle brand that creates highly engaging, multi-platform content geared towards India’s Internet Generation.

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