There’s real value in getting to know ourselves better and to examine how we’re wired inside for how we think and feel and to see if we have what it takes to both start and run a small business. If we take a little time and invest in a good personality test to find out our entrepreneur personality traits, we can focus on our strengths instead of developing our weaknesses.
Because when we focus on our strengths, our opportunities are the greatest. When we try to develop our weaknesses, we can get bogged down in the muck of…well, all things that are mucky.
We’re brought up through an educational system that focuses on what we did wrong and how we fell short. We live in a society that has a never ending focus on people’s shortcomings.
But the Gallup Organization did extensive research and found that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of trying to improve their weaknesses.
They also found that people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their work and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.
It’s been said, seemingly throughout time ‘You can be anything you want to be, if you just try hard enough.’ I think the intentions are good with this advice, but it doesn’t take long for the child hearing it to figure out that it just isn’t true.
If you’re not naturally tall, you can’t be a pro basketball player. If you don’t have the natural ability to play sports in general, then you just won’t be a pro athlete in any sport. Our personality is what it is and even though we can make some minor changes to it, we need to make the best of what we have and who we are.
But even as adults, we still have that tendency to think that if I’m hired to be a salesman, I can be a sales Manager if I just try hard enough.
Now I’m not saying that this person can’t sell stuff, or train people, but even if they read great books on Management and go to seminars or has Management training and put in late hours every day, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be a good Manager. It just means that they’re trying very, very hard. They may not have the natural talent needed to develop other people. Maybe they should have just stayed in sales.
But I’m not here today to talk about our skills for the traditional J.O.B., this blog is dedicated to developing people toward having a successful business. But the concept is still the same.
Do we know what are strengths are and are we willing to put aside the things we’re not good at and let others do them?
So what happens when we’re not in the ‘strengths zone’? Well, you’re basically a different person and I bet you’re not happy with the work you’re doing and you’re not as engaged in it as well.
• Do you dread getting out of bed in the morning?
• Do you have more negative conversations with people than positive relating to the work you’re doing? (I know that if I try to do graphic design for people it would fail miserably)
• Are you achieving less on a daily basis because you’re bogged down with tasks you struggle with?
Some people are good with finances and some people are skilled at marketing. My son has an expertise in IT security. Others, like me, are great at sorting through the clutter and simplifying complex ideas.
How about you? What are you good at? Do you know your strengths?
In business, finding your strengths and actively playing to them is key to succeeding in any industry. In fact, your strengths (talents, skills, passions, personality traits) may have been the spark that drove you to want to start a business in the first place. But, before moving into the process of starting and growing a company of your own, it’s important to first make a clear distinction between your soft skills and hard skills, as they’ll combine to make up your entrepreneurial strengths.
What are some soft skills?: Personal traits that deal with building relationships, serving people and to be genuinely interested in other people.
What are some of the hard skills?: I think of it as specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured.
1. Determining Your Soft Skills
As we mentioned above, soft skills are your personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and in harmony with other people.
These are the skills you have, that you can’t necessarily quantify. This is your EQ (Emotional Intelligence), not your IQ.
Here are some examples of soft skills:
• Having a strong sense of self-awareness
• Being optimistic
• Being resilient
• Having patience
• Being a good listener
2. Breaking Down Your Biggest Wins
Think of a time you did a great job on challenging work project, or a time you felt particularly accomplished with something you worked on.
For me, I can think of specific coaching that I’ve provided that helped lead to real, tangible results for people or organizations.
Ask yourself what exactly were you doing at the time, and which soft skills you used to help you achieve a big win.
3. Figuring Out What Comes Naturally to You
Part of determining what your strengths are as an entrepreneur, is taking an inward look back into the past and figuring out what you’ve always been a natural at. What have your friends, coaches, teachers, managers, or even your parents always told you you’re a natural at?
This can fall into many different categories, so don’t get hung up on thinking of this as a strictly “on the court” or “in the classroom” type of strength.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
• What skill or ability do you wish you could do when you’re not doing it?
• What task do you do that you lose track of time when you’re doing it?
• Which task makes you smile (either internally or externally)
• What things seem easy for you to do that others would consider hard?
These are most likely your strongest soft skills.
4. Asking Others What Your Strengths Are
Once you’ve taken a peak internally to figure out what you’re good at, take a little time looking for some external answers. It’s time to turn to the people you know and trust, to get an outside opinion.
You’re going to ask them to share with you, what they believe to be three of your biggest strengths, and if they can include any examples of when you demonstrated those abilities, that’s a major plus.
Now, their input could completely surprise you, or, it could validate what you already know.
5. Run Through a Hypothetical Scenario
Imagine that someone gives you a project or a task that needs to be completed by the end of the week and you have to work on a team of 3-4 others.
Seriously, think of an example in your head. Create a hypothetical situation that’s relevant to your life and where you’re at right now, in which you have to get this particular task done.
Now, ask yourself which role you naturally assume within your group. Do you become the organizer, leader, creative, a moderator, take a back seat?
Will you lead or would you rather be told what to do? Answering all of these questions for yourself will tell you a great deal about how you work in teams, and which strengths you’ll naturally play to.
6. What Are Some of Your Hard Skills?
Hard skills are your well-defined, easily measured strengths and abilities. These are what most people think of when it comes to “skills,” but they aren’t in my opinion, what’s most important when it comes to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
They can always be learned over time, whereas a soft skill like being a strong leader, isn’t acquired by attending an online class on nights & weekends.
Even so, accepting, understanding, and focusing on using your hard skills is important to reaching your success potential.
Here are a few examples of common hard skills that entrepreneurs possess:
• Graphic Design: Proficiency with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.
• Writing: Being able to take complex ideas, break them down into digestible bits, and craft them into compelling stories.
• Analysis: Advanced financial modeling abilities in Microsoft Excel, complex statistical analysis, data mining.
• Marketing: Creating effective funnels, Content Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, proficiency with social media platforms.
For me, my most prominent hard skills are my analytical skills, my writing ability and my technical expertise. The combination of these three hard skills is what helps me create quality podcast content (which I repurpose for the blog), and downloadable resources like E-books.
7. What Do You Love to Do?
How would you spend your time if you didn’t have to go into work every day?
What do you already like to do in your limited free? Do you like helping your friends talk through difficult situations at work or in their personal lives? Do you like to stand before people and speak or provide training?
Do you go on outdoor adventures every weekend? If you’re anything like me, then you love to do the things you’re already good at. It’s human nature.
If I could write and create content and do podcast episodes every day, full-time, I would. Taking a look at the things you truly love doing, and identifying which soft skills you have will help you further narrow down your core strengths as an entrepreneur.
8. Deciding What Comes Next
Once you’ve gone through the process of identifying your core soft and hard skills, the real question is, what are you going to do next? What you decide to do with what you’ve found is completely up to you. The easiest thing to do is to stay content with what you’re doing and change nothing, even if your work is meaningless.
I challenge you to start looking for a more meaningful path where you can focus on building your core skills, engaging your strengths, and continue discovering what you’re truly passionate about in life.
Personally, I’ve found that starting a side business can often be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Mine has been an instrument by which I’ve gotten to have a connection, however small, with people over the world through the podcast.
Now that’s motivating.
The Power of Finding Your Strengths as an Entrepreneur
The next step toward finding a way to launch into a meaningful self-employed career, is to combine your soft and hard skills, to come up with profitable business ideas that’ll engage your strengths and areas of interest.
Our natural talents and passions-the things we truly love to do-last for a lifetime. But all too often, our talents to untapped.
Take some time to discover things about yourself that you may have never known. If you haven’t taken a StrengthsFinder assessment, I challenge you to do so.
The assessment test costs $50. I’ll put the link in the show notes. Another alternative is the Kolbe-A test and is priced very similarly at $55. Looking for a free alternative? The High5 Test is a well known option also.
Knowing the results could be life changing, even shocking. But always worth it.
Here are my top 5 StrenghtsFinder qualities:
Let me know how you made out and what your top 5 strengths are.
For more tips and tools to help you on your small business journey, just go to the Resources page. There, you’ll find some FREE, helpful downloads that will help give you clarity and a strategy as you plan your new small business launch.
If you’d like some help in determining your path to self employment, I’d be glad to assist. Send a little information through the quick contact form at the Contact page.
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