Articles and Advice

Less ‘hui’ more ‘doie’: Taking action and the art of the successful entrepreneur

The leadership style of some of the world’s most effective entrepreneurs varies greatly.  Richard Branson is a delegator, well known for risk-taking and flamboyancy.  Steve Jobs was considered an autocrat who micro-managed his team.

Despite differing styles, successful leaders have a common attribute in their ability to take action and “get the job done”.  It’s how great leaders do great things.  It’s about the do-ing, not the hui-ing.

Sitting around and talking about a great idea isn’t going to make that idea a reality… even with all the creative brilliance in the world.

A leader who has the ability to affect change and take action is the one who will achieve success.   These are the momentum gainers, the trailblazers, and the action-takers.

Here are five ways successful entrepreneurs take action.

1. Take action:  Decision-making

As a new venture grows, there will be decisions and choices to be made every step of the way.  It’s normal to feel anxious and sweat over the decision-making process.  Just don’t get paralysed by indecision.  Having agility in dealing with issues as they arise is one of the best ways to keep things steamrolling ahead.

Analyse options, make the decision, be happy with it… and move on.  From time to time, you’ll make bad calls.  This best thing to do with a bad call is learn from it and keep moving forward.

2. Take action: Get a good team

At some point, the demands of your start up will outgrow your own skillset.  Hire a good team and put some trust in their abilities.  Leaders who put trust in the team get momentum in return.

Richard Branson openly admits he’s not good with numbers.  When Virgin first began its meteoric rise Branson hired an accountant called Jack Claydon.  Claydon shared Branson’s vision.  To this day, Richard Branson credits Claydon as a major factor in the success of Virgin.  He was not afraid to put his trust in an employee so that he could focus on growing other aspects of the organisation.

Stepping back from some tasks by giving them to others will ultimately enable your organisation to move forward at a quicker pace.

3. Take action:  Do what you know

Entering into an industry where you have working knowledge and industry expertise will help get things off to a flying start.  If you’re entering into a field that is unknown to you, be prepared to spend a lot of time learning the ropes.

A fast start is more likely if you have industry knowledge and contacts already in place.

When Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed the world’s first PC software in 1974, it was Gates’ clear understanding of the industry that enabled him to spearhead a revolution.  Through his technical knowledge and the ability to take action, he tipped up everyone’s notions of computers.   In a time when the only computers were huge mainframes, he brought PCs into the home for individuals to operate themselves.

4. Take action: Talk to customers

Talking to customers is often a task that is overlooked.  In all the excitement of a new start up, assumptions are made rather than cold hard facts gathered.

Market research will identify issues or objections that could ultimately save you a lot of time in the long run.

Whether it’s face-to-face contact, emails or phone calls, it’s not hard to gather customer feedback.  Ask your customers what they would change if they could.  Take action on what you learn and make changes to the business model.  These changes might be exactly what are needed to propel you to the top.

5. Take action: Listen to others

At some point, you’re going to have to share your big idea with others.  When you do share, share it with good people.  It’s worth listening to the wisdom of others, but at the same time questioning the feedback.  It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to exhibit behaviour that challenges conventional wisdom (it’s what makes them entrepreneurs!).  But it’s worth striking a balance between taking good advice when it’s given and sticking to the original plan.

Stick to this same idea once your business is up and running.  Sending ideas around and inviting comment from the team is a great way to sanity-check and ego check.

Catching errors or bad calls before they’re made can save a whole lot of time and resources.

Dreaming big and accomplishing big things are two entirely different things.  There’s a skill in having the ability to do both.


Note: Hui is a Maori word for social gathering or in the context here – meetings and talkfests!


South Inc. has worked with many clients to help move their ideas and projects from the talking stage to actionable tasks. Talk to us today about how using tools such as the Hoshin Kanri strategic template to put you goals and objectives into actionable tactics.