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How to *Successfully* Work for an Entrepreneur: 10 Guidelines

Scaling a business is not for the faint of heart. It takes research, analysis, trial and error, budget, time, the ability to oversee business development, product / service development and build a team … basically, there are a lot of balls up in the air at any given moment. It’s a process and it’s far from perfect. As an entrepreneur, there is a lot on my plate at any given moment. I don’t mind because that’s the sort of scenario where I shine. I like variety and the feeling of too many things to do at once because it creates a

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office-620822

Scaling a business is not for the faint of heart. It takes research, analysis, trial and error, budget, time, the ability to oversee business development, product / service development and build a team … basically, there are a lot of balls up in the air at any given moment. It’s a process and it’s far from perfect.

As an entrepreneur, there is a lot on my plate at any given moment. I don’t mind because that’s the sort of scenario where I shine. I like variety and the feeling of too many things to do at once because it creates a sense of urgency and helps me get sh!t done. I have found this sort of “peace amid chaos” mentality to be common among my entrepreneur friends as well.

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However, not everyone can thrive in this sort of environment and that is OK. We’re not all meant for this crazy career path but as an entrepreneur, it’s amazing when I find a team member who understands how to support it. The ability to support an entrepreneur who is working to scale her or his business is an irreplaceable asset to that entrepreneur. If you work for or are considering working for an entrepreneur, it is essential that you not only understand the urgency of this world but also know how to support success within this world.

Agency life lends itself quite well to this entrepreneurial world. At an agency, you’re used to managing multiple clients, projects, timelines and teams; often doing so on a daily basis. This is a huge asset when working for or with an entrepreneur. When you understand that at any given minute a variety of needs are present and are most likely attached to real people wanting fast answers.

10 Guidelines to Successfully Work for an Entrepreneur

  1. Organize your world.
    It doesn’t really matter what your process is as long as you have one that works well. It’s essential to stay on top of emails, tasks, projects and keep your world organized. If you don’t keep your world organized, you can’t help anyone.
  2. Know your world.
    Know what’s coming up today, this week and this month and prepare for it. If you’re not organized, you can’t really know your world. Knowing your world means knowing what you’re responsible for and owning those tasks and projects. Don’t wait to be told. Just do and ask questions as you go. It’s essential to keep things moving and organized within your world.
  3. Delegate when possible.
    If you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, this may not be possible. However, you can still use tools to help speed up your tasks and help you work smarter. If you do have an intern or a more entry-level team member to delegate tasks to — do it. Review your list and ask yourself, “What am I doing that really can be done by someone else?” or “How can I enlist help with these tasks?”
  4. Follow up.
    If you don’t hear back from a vendor, team member, client or your supervisor: follow up. Don’t wait to be told or reminded. If someone has to remind you, there’s room for improvement. If someone has to remind you … someone else is doing your job for you.
  5. Don’t assume.
    This is a big one. Especially if you’re just starting out, don’t assume that your team or your supervisor knows you’ve done a task. Close the loop. If someone forwards you an email with a task assigned to it, reply back with a “Done!” when you’ve completed the task. This will help build trust. Know that just because a task has been delegated to you, doesn’t your entrepreneur boss doesn’t still have it on their list as a “follow up” to ensure it’s done on time / properly. Help them get it off their plate and close the loop.
  6. Communicate more than you think you have to.
    I’m not saying spam your team with unnecessary emails. Instead, I’m saying that the amount of communication you think you have to do is most likely not enough. Don’t assume and follow up. Close the loop. I’d rather have someone fill my inbox with “Done” emails than have to add following up with a team member to my list. Let us tell you when you’re spamming us. Err on the side of over communication.
  7. Value our time.
    If the entrepreneur you work for takes the time to explain a process or mindset — take note! Don’t make them repeat themselves later or show you a process again if at all possible. Value their time enough to put the processes in place so that you remember what you’ve been told / taught and can execute tasks on your own.
  8. Answer before you ask.
    If you find yourself in uncharted territory (which is pretty common in a startup by the way), try to find the answer before you ask for help. Google is a great resource there. Ask yourself, “If I was the only one available to do this task / answer this email / start this project, and I couldn’t ask for help, what would I do?” Answer this and then take that answer to your supervisor or a team member who has completed similar tasks and get their input. This approach demonstrates that you at least tried to find an answer before asking and that you take initiative. It’s SO much better than just asking, “What do you want me to do here?”
  9. Make yourself available to help.
    Now this is a tip that will really set you apart. What if you were so on top of your own work and in control of your world that you could ask your entrepreneur how else you could help? Talk about making yourself valuable! Get to this point and you will win the heart and trust of the entrepreneur you work for.
  10. Above all: Do not panic.
    No matter how overwhelmed you may feel initially, know that your list is no where near as long or daunting as the entrepreneur you work for. Don’t panic. Go back through the earlier steps presented here and work your way through each. Look for where you could be experiencing a breakdown and often you’ll find it’s that your inbox is overflowing or your to-do list isn’t organized. Or, you may just need to ask for help and that’s OK, too.

If you’re an entrepreneur or you work for an entrepreneur, what would you add to this list?

Kate Finley

Founder + CEO of Belle
Currently thriving in Puerto Rico