Visa, chief brand and innovation marketing officer
Photograph by Glen Miller
By Chris Curtin
April 24, 2015

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?” is by Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer at Visa.

While I can’t speak directly to starting my own business, I have run a number of large, global teams within the three companies I have worked for: Disney, HP, and most recently Visa. I like to think of the principles of starting a business or running a large team like the building blocks of a good investment strategy. If you stick to a few solid investment principles for the long-haul, then you are likely to be far more successful than someone who flies by the seat of their pants.

There are two pieces of advice that I received when I first started my career that can also be applied to anyone looking to start their own business:

Invest in your health
I encourage anyone starting their own business to read The Corporate Athlete, by Jack Groppel and James Loehr. The book discusses how to achieve peak performance in business. The practice is rooted in sports science and sports psychology and articulates that in order to reach peak performance in business a good corporate athlete must train–just like sports athletes do. This idea of peak performance has often been presented as a matter of pure brainpower, but Groppel and Loehr suggest that business performance can be broken down into a pyramid. With physical well-being at the foundation, it moves to emotional health, then mental acuity, and topping off with a sense of purpose. The idea is that ideal performance is achieved when all levels work together. If you invest in your overall well being, then investing in hard work will not seem as difficult–or as draining.

Invest in smart people
Investing in people smarter than myself has been the most humbling and most effective thing I’ve done as a leader. I like to surround myself with people that can jump into any situation and offer intelligent insight. The best employees are typically concerned with more than salary, so design a compensation package that includes benefits outside of monetary ones. Consider things like a flexible work environment, a unique company culture, and the opportunity to implement change. As a leader it is your job to clearly articulate these elements so you can attract the best talent. And create an organizational mandate to hire only A players and clearly define what that means. Steve Jobs once noted in an interview, “A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?

4 secrets behind a successful startup by Veenu Aishwarya, co-founder and CEO of AUM LifeTech.

How this startup failed (twice) and still found success by Kevin Chou, co-founder and CEO of Kabam.

Are you resilient enough to start your own business? by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

The most important lesson I learned as a tech CEO by Kyle Wong, CEO of Pixlee.

How to avoid a startup failure by Jim Yu, CEO and co-founder of BrightEdge.

3 things to consider before starting your own business by Sunil Rajaraman, co-founder of Scripted.com.

4 ways to persuade people to join your startup by Nir Polak, CEO and co-founder of Exabeam.

GoDaddy CEO’s 5 tips for aspiring entrepreneurs by Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy.

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