Sheryl Sandberg – the legend of “Lean in”

Dear Startup Founder,

Yes, I’ve failed. And I’m damn right proud of it, I wasn’t proud at the time but now I reflect, it was a great thing and more importantly, it taught me the lessons learned.

Did you know 87% of companies fail in their 1st year?* But did you know, if you focus on customer & revenue generation from day one, your chances of success are much higher?

Are you aware that social capital can be the difference between success and failure?

Sometimes we have to realise that we don’t know what we don’t know.

As Sheryl Sandberg (pictured above) says, we should both ‘fail fast’ but also ‘lean in’.Lean in can mean all sorts of things, but for me, it means lean in and ask for support, and lean in to your network and turn them into your community and your supporters.

Do you know that entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from mental health issues? Could mentors help coach and support you through challenging times so you become a resilient leader? They can but this requires commitment from both parties. We, the entrepreneurs, have to ask.

Imagine you knew your customer and why they loved your brand. Imagine if you knew your product was really solving the problem – and that your customers would buy it. Imagine as a founder, you knew your exit strategy and could estimate how much money you’d make in 3, 5 or 10 years when you exit. Imagine you could invest in your own personal wealth knowing you are going to make it. Imagine if you know what impact you’d achieve in the economy and for society. Can you Vision Your Future Life? 

You can. What do you want to achieve? Why? How much do you want it? Do you have what it takes? Read Mark Bouris “What it Takes” to know if you do. Possibly not right now, because you want more people, you want your products ready, you want more customers.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”.

Don’t walk, run, sprint in the wrong direction. You will fail. Think, plan, act.

Most importantly, surround yourself with the team to win. Richard Branson hires the best leaders. Hawthorn FC coach Alistair Clarkson achieves triple premierships because the hawks had an amazing performance advisory team. Mike Cannon-Brooks and Scott Farquhar appointed Google, Microsoft and LinkedIn advisors.

Who could you appoint as your coach? Who could you imagine on your team of mentors?

Australians might be known for tall poppy syndrome but we’re also massive supporters of the backing the underdog. You might be surprised who is going to back you, more importantly, those who will cheer for your success.

At Startup Boardroom, we know people who will cheer for your success. Take Hayden, he is a HR tech founder, he now has the head of Asia Pacific executive search as one of his advisers connecting him to his B2B customers – Heads of HR. Or Nathan, an agribusiness trading marketplace, he could have the Head of Commodities of Barclays Capital at his disposal. Or the EdTech founder Sally, I wonder if she’s thought about the Partner in Charge of Education for a global consulting firm to help steer her to sell her solutions into universities and K-12.

*KPMG global report on small business.

Social capital is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, so don’t waste it. Don’t try and D.I.Y, it is hard being an entrepreneur, trust me I’m almost one decade in, and yes I appointed a Credit Suisse investment banker , a private equity investor and a strategy advisor and CEO as my initial advisors, so if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

As entrepreneurs, we need to ask for help. Advisors will uncover your blind spots, they will coach you through the stress and teach you to be resilient, they will hold you to account so you achieve what you are capable of and above all else, they will steer and cheer you to success.

Yours truly,

Mr. Failed Once (I learnt my lesson, hopefully I don’t fail again).