3 Ways to Make Your Entrepreneurship Journey Easier
Just like any journey where one is out of their comfort zone, there are many lessons learnt but none so important as the 3 that we’re about to discuss. I consistently see the value of applying them in business as they make life soooo much easier.
1. Tell Everyone, Who’s Willing To Listen, About Your Idea
The greatest value for this action is telling people who are critical enough to ask you thought provoking questions about your business idea. We don’t all need to wait until we get on Dragon’s Den before we’re asked really hard questions. The hard questions are what help you improve the idea and get inside the minds of suppliers, customers, investors or any other stakeholder.
This will not only improve your understanding of different stakeholders and their desires, it will also improve your communication skills as you will understand where you are often misunderstood, what you need to elaborate on and what still needs research.
With enough practice, you’ll be able to easily deliver that all-important 90-second pitch in the cereal isle of your local supermarket after you’ve spotted that elusive chief executive you’ve been trying to get a meeting with for months!
2. Get a Mentor
“You don’t know what you don’t know”
Why get a mentor? Because what you’re doing is not new… well, it may be but the principles are similar to someone else who’s already done it before. There is no need to re-invent the wheel, just find someone who’s invented it and ask them how they did it, what they did wrong and what they advise for what you’re working on.
It will also increases your credibility when stakeholders know that you have an expert on your board of advisors.
How to get a mentor?
• Identify someone who’s accomplished in the industry that you are trying to penetrate, someone you respect.
• Approach them by telling them about them – what they’ve done, how it affected you and how you want to learn from them. Don’t tell them about you and your story, no one cares!
• Ask for an hour a month of their time. If that person is accomplished enough to earn your respect, they’re probably very busy and time is scarce.
• Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you want to go into book writing, email your favourite authors. If you want to get into radio, reach out to your favourite deejays through social media. I reached out to one of my mentors after seeing him on TV.
Just like anything else in entrepreneurship this is trial and error and that’s fine. Know that with the exception of a small group, most people want you to succeed especially those who’ve paved the way so getting a mentor is much easier than you think.
3. Be Likeable
“People do business with people they like”
This is the most important of all 3 – “likeability” is critical to anyone’s success, not just in entrepreneurship but in life, at every level. As a startup, you’re figuring yourself out – understanding your value proposition, whether you have customers, who are potential suppliers etc and this is all trial and error. In many instances you are going to need people to do you favours and open doors for you, whether its a PA to set up a meeting with her employer, a security guard to let you in somewhere or an investor to give you a chance and fund your idea. Whether these happen will largely rise and fall on how much these individuals like you.
You’re also going to make many mistakes as you’re learning more about your business and the more people like you, the easier it is to forgive. In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about how the most caring and considerate doctors had the lowest number of law suits against them even when they made “sue-able” mistakes but doctors that had poor relationships with their patients had several law suits to their name. The same principle applies in entrepreneurship, relationships, at work or in other social settings.
How to be likeable?
• Keep your word – that includes being punctual, sending emails and calling when you say you will or letting the person know in advance when you can’t.
• Smile. You never know what other people are going through and even if they’re on cloud nine, every prefers a smile over a frown. Smile even when you’re on the phone, the person on the other end can tell and that will influence how they receive you.
• Remember names. Everyone loves the sound of their name so remember it and repeat it in conversation.
• Find something to appreciate about the other person, appreciate it and be genuine.
• Be patient with other people and slow to criticise. Criticism just makes people defensive, it would be wiser to invest your time in building a contraption that will make pigs fly.
• Mix business and pleasure. Especially in first encounters postpone talking about business for as long as possible and get to know the other person or talk about current affairs such topics make it easier to develop a friendship outside of work. Contrary to popular belief, most business deals do not take place in the boardroom or through email but rather at bars, social gatherings, restaurants – where people already like each other.
These are the ways that I have found make my entrepreneurship journey smoother.
What do you think? What has eased or hardened yours?
Founder and Director of Red Case