Every leadership initiative starts with a Vision, “I have a Dream!” speech by Dr.Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela‘s Vision for South Africa built on equality and reconciliation or Mahatma Gandhi‘s Vision for Free, Democratic and Self Governed India are the quintessential examples. I believe strongly that everyone… I mean everyone, starting from a child to the President of Great Nations need to live by a vision. When the vision becomes clear leadership emanates from it. I don’t believe everyone starts with knowing the path, however having a vision is paramount. I will bring it to the context of Entrepreneurship and Startups. I meet a lot of entrepreneurs as part of the Startup Program that we launched in GreenQloud and because of the work that I have been doing in Startup Iceland. One of the biggest challenges that I pose to the Entrepreneurs is asking the WHY question. Why do they feel whatever it is that they are building is worth anyone’s time? What is the vision behind the effort? Without taking any names I would like to give an example, a very talented individual, excellent at selling and had a very successful career in Media and now wants to do a Startup. He has a very talented partner who is technical and the team behind them is quite good in Mobile Application Development. They had built a framework that allows media or telecom companies to deliver content to the Mobile Device. Not an easy thing to do. However, every time they request a meeting with me it ends up in a discussion where I am challenging their vision. Here is a classic case of a Solution trying to find a problem. One day it is a solution to the Media companies the other day it helps restaurants owners and what not. I believe this is the wrong way to build a Startup. The team is extremely talented and they are able to make ends meet due to their development experience and there are always more Professional Services need for new technology development like the Mobile Platform or HTML5 or whatever else technology that is going to come up in the future.
Entrepreneurs are leaders whether you like it or not, starting anything takes Vision, Discipline and Strategy. I also wrote about just having the Vision is not enough but you absolutely need to have one, otherwise there is no purpose. One of the popular posts that I wrote was titled “My Vision for Iceland“, it got one of the best viewings.
To summarise, Leadership lesson #1 is to Have a Vision, Create a Vision, focus on a Vision.