Beginning as an entrepreneur is full of uncertainty and risk – and the way one approaches such challenges can ultimately dictate the fate of the company. Establishing and then executing a thorough business plan is pivotal in pinpointing where these possible challenges lie, providing guidance and clarity upon which business philosophies may offer the most appropriate solutions. Furthermore, taking on a perspective outside of oneself – perhaps via a mentor or peer who once walked in similar shoes – can act as a cushion against any missteps and even offer encouragement to overcome tribulations.
“We all must start somewhere,” says Kevin Mulleady, a successful, sector-agnostic entrepreneur. “And while many of us may exude enough inspiration to face obstacles completely solo, it is much more efficient to bear the burden if we have someone to first show us how to balance its weight. This is one of the many benefits of having a mentorship.”
Until you find that perfect mentor, Kevin Mulleady has a few tips for aspiring and struggling entrepreneurs.
1. Observe and Absorb Says Kevin Mulleady
Kevin suggests that those who are embarking on the journey as an entrepreneur should act as a sponge in their environment, soaking up as much industry-specific knowledge as possible. “Having a firm understanding of the market, as well as the different roles and priorities of stakeholders, results in the byproduct of a savvy business person,” says Kevin Mulleady. “Figure out how the stakeholders think and live, as well as what motivates them. The more knowledgeable one becomes about the people and entities within a particular market, the closer they will be to finding their niche.”
Not sure how to get started? Kevin suggests stepping out of your comfort zone, in search of thought leaders who can shed light on any questions or comments you may have. Perhaps it is as simple as setting up a coffee date to pick their brains, ask questions, and most importantly – listen to feedback. Kevin advises that in doing so, one must listen closely – not only to obvious responses observed at the surface-level but also to the subtle reactions elicited in the inflection or tone of their voice. This kind of critical listening is incredibly transformative; one begins as a good listener, who then becomes a great learner, who is finally prepared to be a grand leader.
2. Build the Life You Want for Yourself Early Advises Kevin Mulleady
“Stressors come in all different forms and faces. In the embryonic stage as an entrepreneur, it may be an overwhelming fear of not knowing where to begin. For someone who has a little more experience under their belt, it may be the sudden intensity when their business catches momentum,” says Kevin Mulleady. “Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to take a breath and reflect when you notice a shift in your physiological sense, especially if it can leave a negative residue on the company. Really take a moment to re-assess and correct. Just as many machines require after excessive stimuli, we too may benefit from a hard reset every now and then. Whatever it takes to leave you feeling content when you answer the question, ‘Is this the life I want for myself – or the kind of company I want to build?’”
Checking-in on mental well-being and recognizing physiological responses are not the only ways to stay on track with building the life you want as an entrepreneur. Speaking outside of oneself – assessing company culture, business development initiatives, stakeholders and their values can also guide one towards the best path forward.
“Start-ups are hard work, I would never imply otherwise,” says Kevin Mulleady. “But working hard and dreading waking up in the morning are two different things.” His suggestion to those who find themselves bitterly frustrated or unhappy during their journey as an entrepreneur? “Pinpoint the reason for your unhappiness and make changes immediately,” advises Kevin. “Without being dismissive, it’s just really that simple. As an entrepreneur, one possesses the power to accept the kinds of projects that motivates and inspires them. One may even argue this is the very reason why so many choose to become entrepreneurs in the first place. Embrace that freedom, change what is undesirable, and overcome the inescapable adversities with confidence!”
3. Play the Long Game Kevin Mulleady Says
“Even the greatest new leaders can succumb to the routine activities of running a company. This tunnel vision, hyper-focused on the day-to-day obstacles can be damaging to both the performance of an up and coming entrepreneur, as well as the company,” says Kevin Mulleady. “If one is not careful, the solutions to these obstacles can become entirely reactive. In order to avoid this, it is wise to allocate time and space to proactively work on the company.”
According to Kevin, proactive work is work that invests in the long-term health of your business. Revamping the company culture, implementing industry training and continued education, encouraging employee engagement by establishing a sense of ownership, and ensuring there is always creative capital deployment – these are the activities that are too often sacrificed in favor of a needy client or emergency meeting.
“Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees,” warns Kevin Mulleady. “Be perceptive to the acute – catching what others miss, and always exercise awareness of oneself and the company at all times. One must work on the business, not just in it. This is what separates a true entrepreneur from the average business owner. Invest in yourself and the company now, and you can remain confident in the future return.”
Kevin Mulleady is an entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio that ranges from artificial intelligence to venture capital. He has successfully founded and co-founded over 25 companies, with his leadership extending to board experience and executive management. Kevin studied Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, with an understudy in Economics. A world-traveler and philanthropist, Kevin is known for his fearless, ambitious approach to every challenge he faces.