Do You Have What it Takes to Be an Entrepreneur?

mocha momentsWho has the most talent for building and sustaining a business?

How can we find these people who are so crucial to the future of our economy?

What are the personality characteristics and behaviors that lead to business building success?

These are valid questions because we’ve all heard the challenges small and mid-size companies face with regard to growth:

  • 40% of startups shut down within the first 3 years.
  • 50% of startups don’t make it past 5 years.
  • Only about 4 in 10,000 startups become large enterprises of $100 million or more in revenue.

Even in the face of these dismal odds, many gainfully employed folks, dream of owning their businesses someday. Those more comfortable with risk-taking branch out to pursue their dream and end up proving the stats right.

Who wants to be an entrepreneur? It seems that everyone does! According to Predictive Success, a privately held international consulting so-you-want-to-be-an-entrepreneur_large (2)company, “Entrepreneurs are the role models and heroes of modern day society. Moreover, current economic conditions will inevitably see increasing numbers of entrepreneurs.”

Many people go into business for themselves because they figure they could do a much better job at producing the product or providing the service than their current boss can. Some people have an innovative idea that they think is worth going out on a limb for and putting their money where their mouth is. Others are just fed up of being in a job and going into business for themselves seems a worthwhile and viable alternative.

The reality however is that not everyone is suited to entrepreneurship even though what they are proposing is innovative.

In his book “The Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder” written with Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal, Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup says “Innovation is essential, and we need it. But the real magic starts with entrepreneurs – with people who are born with the rare gift to build successful businesses. An innovation has no value until an ambitious entrepreneur builds a business model around it and turns it into a product or service that customers will buy. If you can’t turn an innovative idea into something that creates a customer, it’s worthless.”

According to the research, nature trumps nurture as far as entrepreneurship goes. Entrepreneurs are born, they learn to use their innate talents, and then they succeed. The ones who become superstars are the ones who had innate talent and were able to make the most of that talent.

Gallup’s scientific approach to studying success reveals that top performers in any role exhibit similar talents — recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that naturally equip them to excel in a role. In the realm of entrepreneurship, Gallup discovered 10 talents that highly successful entrepreneurs possess:

BUSINESS FOCUS: You make decisions based on observed or anticipated effect on profit.

CONFIDENCE: You accurately know yourself and understand others.

CREATIVE THINKER: You exhibit creativity in taking an existing idea or product and turning it into something better.

DELEGATOR: You recognize that you cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control.

DETERMINATION: You persevere through difficult, even seemingly insurmountable, obstacles.

INDEPENDENT: You are prepared to do whatever needs to be done to build a successful venture.

KNOWLEDGE-SEEKER: You constantly search for information that is relevant to growing your business.

PROMOTER: You are the best spokesperson for the business.

RELATIONSHIP-BUILDER: You have high social awareness and an ability to build relationships that are beneficial for the firm’s survival and growth.

RISK-TAKER: You instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations.

The degree of your natural ability in each of the 10 talents will determine where you will be successful and where you may fall short on your entrepreneurial journey.  Your dominant talents would be those talents that you use consistently and lead with naturally. Your contributing and supporting talents are those not necessarily applied by you to achieve success and you don’t naturally lead with them.

The idea is to focus on your areas of expertise and lean on others to shore up the critical areas of business that you are no good at. It certainly makes sense, but it’s amazing how many entrepreneurs feel like they have to take on the full burden of every challenge by themselves. I joke with many entrepreneurs reminding them that they don’t have to always “invent fire.”

Knowing yourself is the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur and living a better life. This knowledge brings relief in knowing and accepting that you don’t have to be all things to all people. As an entrepreneur, this knowledge is freeing.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Pamela Butler says “There is a person with who you spend more time than any other, a person who has more influence over you, and more ability to interfere with or to support your growth than anyone else. This ever-present companion is your own self.”

The discovery of WHO YOU REALLY ARE can help resuscitate a failing venture or begin to rebuild a crumbling business; discovering your true self means freedom.  Understanding whether you are cut out to be an entrepreneur can mean the difference between success and failure. If you are interested, go take the assessment here – https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/ESF/en-US/About (I am not affiliated in any way nor am I getting a commission for sharing this link.)

Whether you are interested in developing your own entrepreneurial talents or understanding those talents in others, the Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder will help to start the conversation. It creates a language to talk about how people can naturally be better business-builders by identifying and developing their entrepreneurial talents.

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What would your life look like if you could power your own success, never feel confused about what you need to do and never hesitate to do it?

  1. Do you have clarity around WHO YOU REALLY ARE?
  2. Are you being noticed for your contribution in your current role?
  3. Do you know WHAT you need to do to get the results you want?

Find out how much you really know about yourself…

The missing ingredient in the success sauce

As published in my column – Business Newsday Thursday, March 3 2011

In this fast paced world, boredom is prevalent. So much to do, so much to see – what’s next? We are never totally anywhere. We’re at the art gallery but in our heads we are already having dinner while another part of us is already in tomorrow getting ready for the big presentation.

We get bored of our advertising and marketing strategies. No sooner one campaign is out we are already on the phone to the ad execs looking for something new.

The shelf life of our electronic toys is probably a couple of months before we move on to the next level up with that one feature that we absolutely must have.

We sit in front of the television barely able to watch anything to completion before hitting that button that takes us to the next channel, sometimes five at a time before we spend a decent five minutes in one place – just long enough for us to decide that perhaps we should stick with what we started looking at. Alas – for how long?

How is this attention deficit behaviour affecting our own progress in our businesses and lives remains unknown to many because everyone’s moving and not taking time to really analyse why things are not improving despite all this movement and rapid fire action.

It started with instant coffee, fast food, the microwave and now TiVo. We used to have three radio stations – one FM and two AM, two daily newspapers, one evening newspaper and two TV channels – incidentally showing the same thing (just depended on your location).

Quite naturally if our physical world is heading in this direction we expect that how we learn will fall into place. Why is it taking so long for my employees to ‘get it’? I am spending tons and tons of money on training without any return on my investment. This just isn’t making any sense.

Maximising productivity through time management is crucial for any business yet to count the wasted hours would be embarrassing. How well you manage your time and the level of productivity and performance you require from your staff are specific competencies that few businesses ever fully capitalise on.

Let’s say a great ‘time management workshop’ surfaces. You decide that you are going to send your staff to this workshop. You even insist that those attending teach those back at the office who did not attend so that you get the maximum return on your investment.

The Monday morning following the workshop, attendees present the time management principles discovered. They show everyone how to apply the principles and there’s general buy-in that this could work. Employees leave this presentation fired up to apply this new knowledge.

Yet three months later neither you nor your staff are using any of the time management principles that you got from that one time course. This is what Chet Holmes of the Ultimate Sales Machine calls ‘event training’. You go to an event. You get some training. You come back to your office. You may even try some concepts. You may even see them work, but you quickly abandon them because you are missing the key ingredient that will make a truly successful company or department and that is pig headed discipline and determination.

You see understanding the principles of anything is not your problem. It’s all logical – simple follow through step by step by step. Do you agree with the principles? Of course you do – that’s not the problem either. Do you question whether they will work in your business? No way! But you will find in spite of all this compelling evidence that you still will not stick with them.

So if you want real success – if you want to apply a powerful force for creating anything that you want — then utilise the force called pigheaded discipline and determination. Take one principle and insist on everyone incorporating that method in their day to day activities. Keep at it. Inspect it.

Deal with the fact that staff will naturally resent change. Push past that and persevere.

I know it would be great to send folks through a conveyor belt and re-programme them to do what you want them to in less than five minutes. I’m sorry that people are not getting up to speed like our techie gadgets. Pat Bishop would tell me during rehearsals, do it right till you can’t do it wrong. It’s the same thing: practise, practise, practise until it becomes second nature. Sorry guys no instantaneous fix but think about, just one approach to making you and your business a success and that is pig headed discipline and determination. Oink!

Graphic from http://www.99designs.com

Our Invisible Assets – The Real Source of Our Wealth

In business when you prepare a balance sheet you compile a summary of your assets and liabilities. Under assets you may have real estate, cars, equipment, furniture, cash, jewellery, securities and any other tangible assets. Under liabilities you would include all debts, obligations, mortgages, bank loans and any other promissory notes. When you subtract your liabilities from your assets you come up with what is known as your “net worth.”

Most people assess their wealth based on these facts alone however if we want to determine our true wealth, we need to include our invisible assets. What value did you put on your original business idea? What about your creativity, determination, persistence, commitment and knowledge? What about your valuable skills: selling, marketing, persuasion? Yes – we tend to take these for granted, and sometimes don’t even charge for our expertise, yet get upset when our customers also take what we do for granted.

A huge asset many business owners overlook, are their contacts, relationships and connections. Perry Marshall, author of ‘the Definitive Guide to Google’ says “it’s simply amazing how many companies are sloppy about what is arguably their most valuable piece of intellectual property: Their customer database. That’s right, no matter what you do, what you make, or how smart you are, the most valuable thing you own is your list of customers. And the second most valuable thing you own is your list of prospective customers, those people who have expressed interest in your product or service.”

Think about Amazon.com. Their customer database is listed as an asset on their balance sheet. Amazon tracks everything you do and so is able to recommend more books to you based on genre or author. Amazon will suggest people who bought the book you bought and what else those folks purchased and of course they will always encourage you to buy more books. The model works. Don’t go off thinking that you have to have the infrastructure like Amazon to make it happen. Think: Do you capture the name, address, phone number and email address of everyone who calls you? Do you stay in contact with them, letting them know what’s new and always reinforcing your sales story every time you contact them? Does this require complex software to achieve? No.

In order to get a clear picture of your true wealth you also need to list your liabilities. The list may include laziness, procrastination, poor organization, fear, hesitancy, perfectionism, pettiness, small-mindedness, anger, poor organization and a bad reputation.

We give money far too much power than it deserves. We put all our energies on sales tactics and trying to ‘force our client’s hands’ almost – particularly if we’re desperate! Instead of focusing on sales tactics and techniques, focus on building trust. In their e-book ‘7 Reasons why High-Paying Clients aren’t Choosing You” authors Rudy Nelson and Traci Feit Love suggest:Learn to see the world through your clients’ eyes so you can speak to them on their terms. Share meaningful insights with prospective clients so they learn to trust your expertise. Make sure that you assess prospective clients’ needs before proposing a solution, so they know you are proposing something that will work for them. We all prefer to buy from people we trust to look out for our best interests.”

If we’re experiencing a financial setback it is very difficult to remember that what we possess – our unique way of doing what we do – is a valuable asset. Sometimes we make it so complex that the customer can’t find it in the confusion that we present to them. Nelson and Love’s prescription: “Focus exclusively on what really matters to your ideal clients. Describe the value of your services in concrete terms. Make sure you’re saving your clients time and effort. The easier it is for your prospective clients to understand what you’re offering and how it helps them, the easier it will be to bring them on as clients.”

In these economic tough times, it is so easy for us to confuse our own value with the fluctuating value of our work in the marketplace. So when clients are calling us or we’re getting work we’re happy and if they stay away – we get depressed. Well of course! That seems perfectly natural except deciding to be down is not an effective response. Use that energy instead to continue to take action. Refine your offers. Tweak your website. Do what you can do every single day to create a thriving business whether or not you are seeing results in the short term.

And always remember this Universal truth: You don’t have wealth – you are your wealth.

For a FREE copy of “7 Steps to Up Your Game and Get Your Phone Ringing” send an email to possibility2profit@gmail.com

Image from http://www.feedthepuppy.typepad.com

You’ve come a long way…

By George you have!

And according to Booker T. Washington – ‘success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.’

Boy am I successful!

We have a tendency to keep our eyes peeled to the future – to measure how far again we have to go but what about how far we’ve come? Give yourself some credit for the courage you’ve shown, the determination that gets you over the humps and the knowledge and wisdom you’ve gain since plunked down on Planet E. – usually the hard way – the priceless result of experience. Do you understand yourself a little better – your habits – what motivates you?

Reward yourself! Yes you can – go ahead – appreciate you.

There you go…now doesn’t that feel great?

Illustration from http://www.emel.com

The magic ingredient for creating success

Give yourself the touch of gold!

I have these instructions  printed out and pasted on the front of a book by Chet Holmes called “The Ultimate Sales Machine.” (Brilliant book – if you don’t have a copy – get it, and thank me later) -

“The great ones in life are not those who are handed silver spoons. Their excellence comes from digging into the raw ore of their own character, and through hard work, persistence, and faith turning whatever they touch into gold.”

and in my own handwriting on a 3″ x 5″ card -

“I will take no shortcuts. I will develop myself  in a positive manner and avoid anything that will reduce my growth and my physical health. I will develop self discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others”

So what’s the magic ingredient for creating success?

According to Chet Holmes, and I agree with him wholeheartedly - it’s pig headed discipline and determination.

If you apply to the learning curve of anything (learning a new language or instrument, business building techniques etc.) with pigheaded discipline and determination you will overcome, conquer and become the master of creating success over and over again.

Perhaps you’re great at golf.

Maybe you play the piano very well.

Basketball may be your game of choice.

In all these cases you know that in order to become great you need to stick to the basics until you do.

And yet so many businesses don’t although in business there are basics that you can do over and over again until every aspect runs like a machine.

What do you need to do today to get you on the road to mastery and success?

Photo courtesy Renjith Krishnan @ freedigitalphotos.net