The hard slog of getting a venture up on its feet is not for the faint of heart. Every entrepreneur knows that when they cross the white line into the startup world, they are about to embark on a roller coaster ride that will almost certainly include multiple failures along the way. But before you throw in the towel, there’s a couple of skills you can teach yourself to make your journey a little easier.
After years of studying / rubbing shoulders with some of the most extraordinary entrepreneurs around, I’ve recognized a few skills that they have which sets them apart from the rest of the crowd. These are:
1. Understanding of customers and their habits
In startups 101, you will learn the most important thing to do is get close to your customer and understand their problem. What they don’t tell you is how to marry up effective solutions that fit your market. The best entrepreneurs have a deep understanding of what makes their customers tick and the habits behind them. Once you understand the drivers behind what makes your customers tick, you can make effective
Recommended reading: ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg
2. Creating a vision and culture that’s infectious
Company cultures are often an afterthought for most budding entrepreneurs. In my experience, successful companies are often founded on strong visions backed by consistent cultural values. Doing this essentially allows the entire team to align to a common goal and in turn creates motivation to drive towards it. I’d highly recommend checking out Tribes by Seth Godin (who’s books are like modern day bibles), which helps connects the dots between a entrepreneurs direction and the cultural values they need to establish to create a following.
Recommended reading: ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin
3. They don’t chase. They innovate.
Whilst I’m sure there are many successful non-innovative entrepreneurs out there, I argue the best of the best cant sleep at night thinking about how they are going to create something new that solves a problem most people just accept that they have to live with.I love this quote by Peter Thiel which sums things up better than I ever could:
“Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”
Recommended reading: ‘Zero to one’ by Peter Thiel
4. Capable of validating ideas rapidly
The reason why you hear it’s so important for startups to fail fast is because majority of businesses are just ideas being validated live. An idea by itself is worth nothing. An idea with it’s first 50 customers and potential to go global day one is priceless. The way to transition from just an idea to a business is by validating with customers. The best entrepreneurs recognize this and look for ways of validating their assumptions with the market to understand whether or not they will work.
Recommended reading: ‘The E-Myth‘ by Michael E. Gerber
5. Pitch like a leader
I’ve noticed that majority of the best entrepreneurs are ‘naturals’ at negotiation or pitching ideas. The power in being able to convince others to join you on a quest is by far once of the biggest superpowers you can get in the startup game. Not only does this get you money (investors) but also the ability to pick up world class talent (team members). For a long time I believed this is something you were born with but the reality is, using a few techniques and understanding human psychology, anyone can become a master pitcher / negotiator.
Recommended reading: ‘Pitch Anything’ by Oren Klaff
Some may be asking, what about “no fear of failing” and “having balls the size of watermelons”? Well, in my thinking, these are the basic characteristics of any entrepreneur.
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