I often see a lot of throwaway posts of “the traits you need to be successful” or “the skills you need to run a business”. I think a lot of these kinds of posts are fluff but I wanted to take serious and well-thought-out approach to this.
If you did want to be a better entrepreneur or more successful, what are the skills to learn and things you should seek to better understand?
While I don’t think there is definitive list, or a one-size-fits-all list, I do think I can share some things that I strive to improve and learn more about everyday that I feel has helped me be a better business person and marketer. I’m by no means great at all of the things listed, this is more of my personal list of skills and traits I want to either acquire or improve on over the next year.
A lot of the skills or traits I’m going to recommend go deeper than you might think. I’m going to do my best in breaking down all the aspects of the skill/trait you should seek to implement into your life as well as explain why/how the particular skill or trait helps your business.
Lately, I’ve taken a lot of interest in psychology. Understanding what makes human beings tick, why they behave certain ways, and what motivates people is really fascinating to me. It’s also made me very self-aware.
But what about for business? Understanding what motivates people such as your employees or your team can go a long way in helping you keep people loyal to you and perform at their best.
A deep understanding of human psychology also helps you understand why people make buying decisions, such as your customers. Ultimately, things like conversion rate optimization, branding, and product-market fit come down to human psychology. If your brand and product is perceived a certain way, how can you best take advantage of that? How can you make customers perceive your brand or product a certain way?
Lastly, human beings are very tribal and they love to attach themselves to groups and ideologies. It’s probably the reason why Apple is so successful. Sure, they make great products (and you might even disagree with that) but you can’t disagree with that they have a very loyal following of people that seems almost cult-like (no offense to Apple fans!).
There are a lot of podcasts, audiobooks, blogs and books out there to start consuming if you want to become more knowledgeable about human psychology and the human psyche. I recommend looking into things like neuromarketing as a start, if you’re really keen on applying this all to business.
I personally recommend reading Neuromarketing: Understanding The Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain.
As a segway from psychology, persuasion is another useful skill in an entrepreneur’s toolbox. Persuasion sounds like a dirty word. Almost like a tactic one would use to trick people into doing what they want. However, persuasion is actually the ability to convince someone why your position is correct or why they should take your suggested course of action. Ideally, when you persuade someone to do something, they should feel good about doing it.
We’re not trying to coerce people into taking our position or desired action!
Someone that’s very persuasive is likely a very great salesperson. Sales is one of the most important aspects of business and the foundation of a lot of different kinds of businesses.
Persuasion can also help with winning contracts/bids or even clients. If you can clearly articulate why people should choose you, and you know how to position yourself, you’ll win more contracts.
Lastly, winning over customers and building a loyal following are things that can come out of understanding how to be persuasive with your brand. Having a charismatic brand can help convert customers into loyal followers into advocates of your brand.
A book I recommend is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Probably the most important skill in today’s digital age is the ability to write well. Combining things you understand and know about psychology and persuasion into your writing will give you a huge legup in your entrepreneurial activities.
Firstly, the ability to write well and persuasively will greatly help when it comes to copywriting. Writing sales pages, email drips, product descriptions, and ad copy all require a great writing skill in order to be effective. Can you tell a compelling story with your brand, product or ad? Storytelling isn’t just for fiction. Many successful brands are able to tell an amazing story simply through their “about us” page.
Secondly, writing is a communication skill. Wouldn’t it be nice to communicate so well to your customers that they always end up satisfied and happy after talking to you? Writing better emails and communicating with customers in a way that’s courteous and succinct will prevent a lot of headaches and help you in the long-run.
Lastly, content marketing and SEO are very important. Content creation has become a large part of a lot of marketing strategies, and for good reason. It works and it yields a high ROI. You don’t need to be a master wordsmith to write great blog posts, but you do need to write in a way that can either educate or entertain effectively, as well as match the tone of your reader’s expectations.
To really step up your writing ability, I strongly suggest reading Cashvertising. This is a great copywriting book.
Speaking with confidence is something everyone should learn. I’ll admit, I was a very shy person growing up. Making YouTube videos have really helped me speak with more confidence and passion in my everyday life.
Imagine if you were able to command a presence and articulate your points clearly to your team or clients in every meeting. Imagine if speaking made people want to listen to you.
I also think public speaking is important as well. I know a lot of people fear it almost as much as they fear death, but if practiced enough times, it’s very easy and exhilarating. You never know when you will need to pitch investors or speak at a conference. Having good public speaking skills will allow you to come across as an authority and allow people to have more confidence in you.
When we think of focus, we often think of the ability to put all of our attention into one thing at a time. While that’s important, and part of what I think is key to an entrepreneur’s success, I also mean focus in the sense that you’re able to do something despite nay-sayers, roadblocks, and challenges.
If you’re so confident and focused that it leads to persistence and perseverance, you will get far.
But of course, having an exceptional ability to focus means being able to focus on the task at hand. You’ll need the ability to do deep work and not succumb to distractions and procrastination.
Lastly, as entrepreneurs, we can fall victim to “shiny object syndrome”. Being able to focus means you won’t be swayed by other tempting projects and instead will focus on the one you already have. Focus on growing it, focus on your goals.
To improve your mindset and focus, I recommend meditating. Meditation has been part of my life for a long time and I feel it has helped me tremendously. I don’t mean the “woo-woo” style of meditation. I mean mindfulness. Learning to focus intently on being present and learning to refocus when the mind wanders. Try Headspace if you need a primer for helpful, scientifically-backed, meditation.
This is the trait I attribute most of my success to. It’s also what I feel to be one of my strongest characteristics.
What is resourcefulness and why do I feel it’s so important?
Resourcefulness, as an entrepreneur, is the ability to find solutions and solve problems using the resources available to you.
Ultimately, it means not having to rely on someone or something, and being able to easily adapt to any situation.
So many problems and roadblocks can be solved with enough digging on the internet. There’s virtually no reason to give up on your business. If you encounter something or you can’t figure something out, figure it out.
That’s it. Figure it out.
I feel like so many people today lack this. No offense to you guys, I love you, but sometimes you ask some really silly questions. It’s almost like you know the answer to them but you’re just seeking my permission. Other times, they’re questions that you could easily find the answer to yourself if you just searched hard enough.
I know it’s sometimes laziness or wanting to hear the answer from an authority, but most of the time, it’s the lack of resourcefulness.
I don’t really know how one would improve this or attain this skill. I think what it boils down to is challenging yourself frequently to figure it out. Don’t be afraid to fail. A lot will be learned just from trial and error alone.
What do you think? Leave a comment below, I read and respond to everyone.