Streetwise: You are not alone: The skills most entrepreneurs lack

December 4, 2020

From our friends at Eure Consulting:

In a study completed by TTI Success Insights, a supplier to Eure Consulting, the late Bill J. Bonnstetter found that while serial entrepreneurs have a specific set of skills that are more developed than in non-entrepreneurs, they also lack a specific set of skills that are more developed in the average working adult.

The study showed that while most serial entrepreneurs are well developed in the skills of Persuasion, Leadership, Personal Accountability, Goal Orientation and Interpersonal Skills, they are usually underdeveloped in the skills of Empathy, Self-management, Planning & Organization and Analytical Problem Solving.

Empathy is a skill that entrepreneurs tend to lack because they are often very focused on the return on their investment and not necessarily on their employees. Entrepreneurs love to build things and solve problems for people, but they are not creating these solutions just for the sake of helping others, they’re doing it to build a company and make a profit. They may run a business that helps others, but their sole focus is usually on getting a return for the time and effort they put into that company. They may be overly focused on building a great product and not focused enough on building up the people around them.

Self-management is difficult for entrepreneurs because they are big picture thinkers and tend to see managing the small day-to-day tasks as taking away from their more important, long-term goals for the company. They also usually have a lot of different projects going on at any one time and just don’t have time to manage every little detail. I actually know a serial entrepreneur who always exits when the company reaches a certain size. He knows his strengths lie in the more chaotic start-up phase and doesn’t want to deal with the growing bureaucracy and red tape.

Planning & Organization is a similar skill to self-management and tends to be lacking for similar reasons. Entrepreneurs are more focused on the big goals and new ideas and not as worried about the details or planning one specific meeting or event. It’s best for an entrepreneur to hire someone else who can be the detail person and help organize their calendar, plan events and keep them on schedule.

Analytical Problem Solving is the last skill that is lacking for most entrepreneurs, though it is generally more developed than the previous three skills. Most entrepreneurs are focused on future gains, monetary returns and new products or ideas, because of this they want to make quick decisions and keep things moving. They don’t want to take time to analyze every little detail about a decision, they just want to make it and move on, often relying on their gut instincts instead of data. They also aren’t as afraid of making a mistake and don’t mind coming back to a decision if they made the wrong one the first time around.

All four of these skills have become ever more important in our COVID world.

Empathy is needed to truly connect with your employees which helps to keep them engaged. The majority of employees today are scared of losing their jobs. Showing people that you truly care about them and will do whatever you can to help them keep their jobs will help relieve some of that anxiety and give them a chance to work in a slightly less stressed environment.

Self-management is needed because it’s more important than ever to make sure that you are focusing on the right things at the right time and not getting distracted by shiny objects. With a new worry around every corner, entrepreneurs need to be intentional about how they are spending their time and energy.

The same goes for Planning & Organizing. With so many unknowns still out there, it’s important to have multiple plans of action ready to go based on what might unfold in the next weeks and months. Being able to plan out different scenarios can help a company be the first to react to a new opportunity.

There is even less room for error when solving problems these days, making the need for Analytical Problem Solving even more important. Entrepreneurs don’t have as much lee-way to take big risks. Decisions need to be made after careful analysis and thought.

I’m not telling you this to stress you out or point out all the things you need to fix. Rather, I’m pointing out that you don’t have to, and are not able, to do it all yourself.

Entrepreneurs are great business-minded, forward-thinking people, but no one is perfect and everyone has those certain things that they just aren’t naturally suited for. By acknowledging these commonly underdeveloped areas, entrepreneurs can better compensate for the skills they are lacking (whether it’s these exact four or others) by surrounding themselves with those who excel in these areas. Entrepreneurs have the vision and the drive to take the company forward, but they need to employ others to create an executable strategy and make sure every little detail gets taken care of.

Building a team around you that can help you compensate for your weaknesses is the single best thing you can do for your company. It will make you a better leader and it will make your company stronger. You need to hire and develop leaders that can do the things you can’t. Maybe you don’t like dealing with people problems, bring in an HR person. Maybe you don’t like the follow up and follow through of scheduling and focusing your day, hire an executive assistant. Maybe you don’t like the nitty gritty details of seeing a project through to completion, bring in a project manager. Maybe you don’t like digging into the details and data to find trends and patterns, hire a data scientist. Whatever your weaknesses are, don’t try to just sweep them under the rug. Neutralize them by bringing in someone else who excels in doing that type of work.

Being able to successfully assemble a team that complements your strengths and weaknesses is just the first of many obstacles of growth for an entrepreneur. How you assemble the team around you and how you lead that team will be the difference between overcoming or succumbing to this challenge. To learn more about how we can help you move past your current obstacles or simply to discuss the challenges of being an entrepreneur, reach out anytime.