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Daniel Debow is a senior vice-president at Salesforce.com, and was co-founder of Rypple and Workbrain.
Daniel Debow is a senior vice-president at Salesforce.com, and was co-founder of Rypple and Workbrain.

LEADERSHIP LAB

Want to lead a startup? Keep these three tips in mind Add to ...

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

The early days of any startup tend to be filled with excitement, anticipation and likely some anxiety. While most entrepreneurs possess the confidence to take risks, starting your own company is not an easy trail to blaze and success depends on a lot more than a good idea. Here are three things that every entrepreneur should keep in mind if you want to transform your business into an industry leader:

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Be unreasonable

It’s okay to have a fallback position. In fact, it can be quite motivating. There is always an element of risk involved when you start your own business but knowing there are other opportunities available if things don’t work out can give you the confidence to take that risk when it feels right.

Before deciding to embrace your entrepreneurial self, figure out what’s important to you and what you hope to gain from the experience. This will help down the road when you’ve got to make tough decisions. Are you passionate enough about what you’re doing to bet on it? If you’re in it solely for the money, you might want to think twice about your venture. If you’re motivated by a vision for yourself, or a problem you truly believe you can solve, then trust your gut.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Your idea may not always seem reasonable to people on the outside, but I believe that unreasonable people are the ones who change the world.

Give regular feedback

Cultivating a corporate culture that motivates and engages employees should be a priority for every business leader and the key to doing this is regular communication. From establishing clear goals to offering real-time feedback, celebrating successes and recognizing people for the work they put into your company, communication should be frequent, two-way, and constructive.

It’s a simple concept that isn’t put into action nearly enough. And it’s not something people just like any more, they’ve come to expect it. Providing regular feedback to your team helps create more engagement in the workplace and demonstrates that you value your employees. This powerful combination will help create a team that is as invested in your company as you are.

I co-founded Rypple, with David Stein and George Babu, on the basic premise that people like feedback. In 2011, we sold that company to San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, where I am now a senior vice-president on the Work.com team. My current role is fundamentally tied to the same principles that led to the creation of Work.com. Our team works together to create applications that allow sales leaders to drive performance in a fun, social way.

In the right environment people will do great things, so create a place where your employees will thrive; your success depends on theirs.

Fire yourself

One of the most valuable skills you can possess is an ability to find great employees and help them become aligned with your company’s vision. You can’t be an expert at everything and if you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll know when to let someone else take the lead.

Don’t be afraid to fire yourself if someone else is more qualified for the job. It doesn’t mean you’re abandoning your company or your goals, it means you’re doing what you need to do in order to be successful. If you truly believe in your business you’ll do what it takes to succeed.

Daniel Debow (@ddebow) is a senior vice-president at Salesforce.com (@salesforce), and was co-founder of Rypple and Workbrain.

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