The Entrepreneurial Skills No One Can Teach You

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Most people understand that entrepreneurship is not easy. But there are many ways to make the journey less arduous. You can get a coach or mentor; Go through an accelerator/incubator; Work with a great team. The list goes on and on.

Based on my experience, I came to the realization that to be a successful entrepreneur, there are some traits that must be innate.

Fear

Be afraid, but do it anyway! It’s not the absence of fear, but the mastery of fear, that makes the entrepreneur.

Be scared, but don’t let the fear stop you. Let it propel you. It’s almost instinctive to be afraid when you have something bigger than you on the line.

Fear can be a self-fulfilling prophecy if not harnessed correctly. Instead of allowing fear to cripple you, take it and use it as fuel to work that much harder on your ideas and your goals.

[Related: Learn to Channel Anxiety into Imagination]

Grit.

This is the fire in your belly. The determination to see things through that will help you with that pesky fear. It’s the helping hand that lifts you when you fall and tells you to try again.

I love what Angela Lee Duckworth shares in her TED Talk on grit. She reinforces that it’s not the most talented or the smartest, but the grittiest that will succeed.

Great ideas.

You know those light bulbs that go off in your mind while driving or taking a shower? That give you sleepless nights? Have you ever tried exploring these ideas?

Ideas are many, but great ideas are scarce. No one can give them to you. You have to find them yourself.

They can come from personal need or experience. They can come from a gap that you’ve identified. They don’t have to be novel ideas, but they do have to be ideas that people are willing to pay you for.

Passion.

This goes without saying. Do what keeps you up at night, what keeps your adrenaline going, what drives you. Some people say: Forget passion and do what you are good at.

You can be passionate about what you are good at, so passion is something you should continue to develop.

It’s not something that will bring immediate success. We must do what we have to do to get by. But you haven’t lived life to the fullest until you get a chance to do what you are passionate about!

[Related: Bringing Your Whole Self to Work, and Why It Matters]

Adaptability.

I have mentioned in the past that we have to bend and not break. Situations change minute by minute, from morning to night and day-by-day.

Your innate ability to adapt to and survive situations can be the difference between success and failure.

Motivation.

Find what motivates you and run with it!

Our levels of motivation wax and wane. But if you have something to hold onto, like that pot of gold at the end of the road, you will keep on going until you get there.

It’s what keeps you going when all the money’s gone or when there was none to begin with. It’s what keeps you believing after you’ve heard your twentieth “NO.” Don’t stop believing.

Empathy.

Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a strength, not a weakness. Entrepreneurs have the responsibility to lead teams and to meet customer demands. You need to empathize with people so that you can lead well.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is known for showing empathy in running his business. This has led to tremendous benefits for his employees and Starbucks as a company. Even Google values and understands the importance of empathy. According to Project Aristotle, a study they released in 2017, empathy was among the soft skills exhibited by B-teams that brought the most important and innovative ideas.

No one can teach you these traits. Having them does not mean that you will always succeed. It means that when you fail, you will be able to get back on your feet again and keep moving.

No one is an island and we all need to collaborate and lean on each other for support and guidance. There will be good days and bad days, long days and short days. There is no one exact script that you can follow. But whatever is in you, whatever drives you – hold on to it.

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