Being an entrepreneur comes with a commitment to never stop learning, whether that means looking to the competition to stay ahead or keeping up with the latest industry trends and technological advancements to help your business thrive.
But with all of this outside information coming in, it is sometimes easy to forget that your own organization -- and, more specifically, your employees -- can be a treasure trove for business tips and advice.
These six entrepreneurs share some of the most valuable lessons they've learned from their employees, and how that helped them improve their leadership skills and grow their organizations.
Be more communicative.
Effective communication is key in a business setting, especially between employer and employee. But even if you think communication is your forte, there is always room for improvement, according to Angela Ruth of Calendar.
"I didn't realize I wasn't being clear with my communication until another employee's ongoing questions helped me realize that I was leaving out key pieces of information they needed to do their job," she explains. "Going forward, I kept that in mind so I could be more detailed each time I provided information on a project."
Listen to learn.
Matthew Capala, founder and managing director of Alphametic, learned that you need to listen to effectively lead. Remember, employees want to be heard and listened to just as much as the boss does.
"Give them a forum, offer attention and truly listen," Capala advises. "Not only do I learn from their open and honest communication, but my team is happier and more productive. Offer your team a forum to speak up and be listened to. All benefit."
See everyone with fresh eyes every day.
"The biggest lessons I've been taught by team members are that people evolve and change, and that seeing everyone with fresh eyes every day helps that growth happen," says AccessAlly Founder Nathalie Lussier.
To illustrate, Lussier explains how she moved one employee from a support role into a marketing role and another from technical writing to design. As a result, both employees are now thriving. "Giving them that fresh start has been amazing for the business," she adds.
Always strive to learn and improve.
No one has everything figured out, including entrepreneurs and expert professionals. That's why striving for constant progress and learning is so important, emphasizes Joel Mathew, CEO and founder of Fortress Consulting.
"I was very impressed early on with one of our designers and his attention to learning," Mathew recounts. "Having worked with other designers and freelancers, I saw how talent can go to one's head when they think their way is the only way. His constant pursuit of knowledge and improvement set him, and us, above the rest."
Consider all ideas.
"As a young, female entrepreneur, I've struggled to be taken seriously. I vowed to listen to my employees' perspectives no matter what lane they're in," says Jessica Gonzalez, founder and CEO of InCharged.
Don't take a single member of your workforce for granted. "Experience does bring expertise, but a good idea is a good idea," Gonzalez argues. As a business grows, employees are going to see parts of the company that leaders do not. So, the best approach is to "validate their ideas and consider them no matter their level," she adds.
Many leaders still micromanage their employees at times. But doing so is often to the detriment of your business because it signals that you don't trust your team to do their jobs.
"I've had the problem of micromanaging processes, but I've recently learned that by giving clear, measurable objectives, the team may take a different approach than I would have but they still get the same outcome," says ChannelApe CEO Michael Averto. Many times, in fact, "they get there faster, cheaper and with less of my time wasted. This has taught me how to scale an organization and put less stress on my shoulders," he concludes.