Congratulations—your startup is up and running. You have employees, clients, investors and a list of responsibilities that are keeping you more than busy. Things are, for the most part, going great.

The only issue is that you’ve never run a company before, and you don’t know if you’re doing the best job possible in your new leadership position.

Maybe some employees don’t listen to you, or tasks aren’t getting completed in time. Some processes could go smoother. Clients could be happier with your company’s work.

It’s not surprising. It takes time to establish yourself as an excellent leader.

The first step is to take advice from those successful leaders who have come before you. Listen to what they have to say, learn from their missteps and good fortunes and apply it to your own skillset. You’ll never be perfect, but you can always improve.

Here are tips from some of the top entrepreneurs working today or how to effectively lead your startup.

Give positive reinforcement to your employees

Tim Ferriss
Author, bio-hacker and productivity pioneer Tim Ferriss. Via

You may have seen the movie “Whiplash” and concluded that constantly pushing people, even in a harsh tone, will help them become better.

The truth is, that’s Hollywood nonsense.

Tim Ferriss, renowned entrepreneur and author of the highly popular book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” used to say to people, “Don’t tell me the good stuff, it will take care of itself. Tell me the bad and what to do to improve.”

Then, he learned that this was not a sustainable way to run a company or an effective way to talk to himself.

When you’re working with people, you have to give them positive reinforcement. If they are doing a great job, let them know it.

As for that destructive voice in your head, tell it to calm down, and give yourself positive feedback as well.

Encourage employees (and motivate yourself) to speak up

Mel Robbins
Mel Robbins, creator of ‘the five second rule.’ Via

Mel Robbins, a CreativeLive teacher who is revered as one of the best motivational speakers in the world, created the five-second rule to help business leaders. She believes that we are only motivated to do what we want to do. The problem with this is that we avoid what we don’t want to do.

We end up never scratching off items on our to-do lists. And we are consequently held back in life.

Instead of sitting around and waiting to feel motivation, she says you can count down from five and then just do it.

Employees in an office
Count down, and speak up. Via Creative Live.

Don’t think. Take action.

If you’re lying in bed and don’t want to get up, start counting down from five.

If you have an amazing idea in a shareholder meeting but are afraid to speak, count down from five and then say what’s on your mind.

You can inspire your employees to do the same. Explain the five-second rule to them and see how it transforms your startup.

Employees will not be afraid to speak their minds and let you know what they truly think. If you encourage employees to be honest, they are going to feel like their opinions are valued.

Focus on self-leadership

Tara Gentile
Tara Gentile, founder of CoCommercial . Via

You might read countless books on the traits it takes to be an effective leader. You try and employ different methods, but nothing seems to work.


They don’t align with who you really are.

Instead of trying to be something you aren’t, focus on your strengths instead, says Tara Gentile, founder of CoCommercial. This is called “self-leadership.”

On her website, Gentile writes, “Position your work in a way that’s aligned with the way you show up naturally and you’ll find traction and efficacy less fleeting.”

For example, if you prefer to meet with employees one on one, don’t hold big group meetings.

Employees meeting together
Be authentic in your leadership style. Via Creative Live.

If you would rather give feedback to your team face to face, don’t do it over email just because a blog tells you that’s the most effective way. That’s not the best method for you.

As the leader, your style is your choice. Do what feels right, and don’t try and fit the mold of another leader.

As Gentile says, “Tapping into your own self-leadership makes you more powerful, quietly. When you’re more effective, more focused, more perceptive and aligned with the market, you exude authority. And that’s intoxicating.”

Hone your public speaking skills

Michael Port
Michael Port, Author and public speaking expert. Via

CreativeLive teacher Michael Port is a New York Times bestselling author and guru to entrepreneurs everywhere. He is also an expert on public speaking.

As a startup leader, you need to be able to talk in front of a lot of people. You also need to inspire and motivate them to do their best every single day.

That’s where Port’s public speaking tips come in handy.

Port says the first sentences out of your mouth should be sincere and self-effacing so that you “disarm the audience.” Open with an interaction, a shocking fact, an entertaining anecdote, or anything else you believe will hook them.

If you’re teaching your team how to do a certain task, outline the steps first, and then go back and explain them. Use props when necessary to help your employees learn more effectively.

Give your employees time to write down information. Don’t speed through your speech.

Never let the energy drop, and make sure you’re only telling the critical parts of stories. Connect all the dots in your presentation as well.

And remember to show your employees what will happen if things don’t change, and if they do not follow your advice.

If you take all these tips into consideration, you will engage your employees with your speeches and presentations and get them on board with your next project.

Leading is learning

You’re still learning how to lead your startup. You won’t become a pro overnight.

But with this advice from Ferriss, Robbins, Gentile and Port, you can begin to improve your leadership skills and experience the success you deserve.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve gotten? Share in the comments below!

This article was written by Kylie Ora Lobell.  Kylie writes for brands, blogs, and print publications. She covers content marketing, digital marketing, and runs Kylie’s Tips for Writers, a blog about writing. She is also a blogger at