What is the single-most important attribute of successful entrepreneurs?

What attribute do you think is the most important predictor of success as an entrepreneur?

Is it intellectual ability or courage? Is it imagination or ingenuity? What about flexibility or the ability to think on your feet? Is it skill or determination or resilience or tenacity? Is it purely the luck of draw that determines who survives, who thrives and who dies?

I am sure that entire forests have been sacrificed pondering this very question. And you know what? I don’t think it is any of them! I would like to suggest that THE most important trait of all successful entrepreneurs is their ability and willingness to be brutally honest about their skills and abilities, their strengths and weaknesses.

When a successful entrepreneur looks in the mirror they know exactly who is staring back at them. They never kid themselves that they are something they are not.

You see I have seen many business people waste time, money and opportunities thinking that they can or have to do everything themselves. Their desire for control or their inability to recognise their own shortcomings have led them to hold everything very tightly to themselves. Truth be told, I have been guilty of this myself from time to time.

The proliferation of information on the Internet these days makes it so easy to read up on things and think you are then an expert. It’s easy to discount the time you spend doing this however this is time you could have spent playing to your strengths. You see as a business owner it is vital that you understand who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses and likes and dislikes are.

Why you ask? Well here are 4 reasons why it’s important.

  1. You create an upward spiral of positive reinforcement

    When you spend the majority of your time doing what you are good at and what you enjoy you tend to feel better about yourself. You are more likely to see progress and success while expending less effort. I’m not suggesting there won’t be challenges or hard times but when you are doing what you do naturally they are easier to navigate.
    You find yourself in a positively reinforcing upward spiral. When you concentrate on what you are naturally good at you are more likely to succeed and success brings with it the reinforcement that you are capable and competent and able to succeed which in itself puts you on the front foot attacking life with confidence and energy.

  2. Your chances of building a strong team increase exponentially

    When you understand your own skills clearly you are better able to articulate the skills you need to outsource. Being able to specify those clearly means you are more likely to get a better fit in less time.
    Any outsourcing transaction (be that to an employee or a contractor) is of course a combination of your ability to specify what you need clearly and the ability of the candidate to accurately assess their skills. When you see yourself clearly you are at least halfway there and not trying to match your lack of understanding with their lack of understanding.

  3. You will get better value for money

    When you understand what you need to balance your own skill or time deficits you will be better able to articulate that clearly and in doing so are more likely to get people who understand exactly what it is you are looking for. You are more likely to get good value for money from people you hire because they are skilled in the appropriate areas and know their expertise is valued.

  4. You will be better able to delegate and supervise your team

    Because you understand that you do not have skills in every area of your business you are better able to delegate and supervise your team because you will concentrate on the outcomes you need rather than trying to micro-manage the process.

You will be more secure in your own worth and therefore better able to affirm your team for what they contribute to your business. You will be better able to delegate work to others because you understand it will be better done by someone else and that delegating it to an expert in that area does not diminish you but frees you up to be the very best you can be at what you love and do with relative ease.

Download our worksheet and spend some time reflecting on what your strengths and weaknesses are. Then have a think about what opportunities your strengths and weaknesses may open you up to and what threats they may make you vulnerable to. Check out this article for a step-by-step guide to self-reflection or if you want to dive deeper, look at this book.

If you are really brave you could ask two or three close friends or a mentor to complete the exercise for you as well and compare their conclusions with yours.

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