Early tech rivals Bill Gates (of Microsoft) and Steve Jobs (of Apple) both introduced radical innovations in the world of computing, that have had a far-reaching impact into the lives of nearly everyone on the planet. But, they could not have been more different when it comes to their entrepreneurial strengths.
While Gates himself was a highly skilled software engineer who personally wrote code for Microsoft products as late as 1989, Jobs was an unmatched design thinker who attended calligraphy classes as an informal student, and never wrote a single line of code for Apple.
These two entrepreneurs made lasting impacts with very similar product offerings, in the exact same industry, during the same period of time, with a completely different set of strengths and skills.
It was their shared ability to identify and lean on their most useful strengths & skills, that allowed them to achieve greatness.
Some entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson and Mark Cuban, thrive on interpersonal skills, leveraging their people networks to grow their businesses over time.
Others get their start by leveraging their well-trained technical skills, like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
Yet still, others are driven by a mesmerizing creativity, like Leo Burnett and Walt Disney, that enables them to inspire large numbers of people with their creations.
In reality, there are a nearly unlimited number of character traits such as a strong leadership ability, being a good negotiator, and having a laser-like focus, that can contribute to your success as an entrepreneur.
The deciding factor in how successful you’ll become in the world of business is really how quickly and effectively you can find your strengths, build them into valuable assets for your cause, and focus relentlessly on only doing activities and getting into business ideas that engage your strengths.
“Success in business depends upon how well you can identify and use your strengths.”
8 Steps to Discover Your Strengths as an Entrepreneur
Some people are good with numbers.
Some are skilled at coding.
Others are great at telling stories and simplifying complex ideas.
How about you? What are you good at?
We’ve established that knowing your strengths and actively playing to them is key to succeeding in any business you start. In fact, your strengths (talents, skills, passions, character traits) may have been the spark that drove you to want to start a business in the first place. That’s why you need to focus on building the best strengths for entrepreneurs.
Before moving on, it’s important to first make a clear distinction between soft skills and hard skills, as they’ll combine to make up your entrepreneurial strengths.
Soft skills: Personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
Hard skills: Specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured.
Here are eight steps to discovering your strengths in business;
1. Determining Your Soft Skills
As we mentioned above, soft skills are your personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
In short, these are the skills you possess, 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. Ask yourself what exactly were you doing at the time, and which soft skills you employed to help you achieve your end result.
“Pushing beyond your comfort zone will teach you an incredible amount about yourself.”
3. Figuring Out What Comes Naturally to You
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:
- Did you always find yourself being the mediator between your group of friends?
- Was is always easier for you to pick up complex physics in class?
- Were you often the one making plans and figuring out the logistics of getting from point A to point B?
- Are you a naturally talented athlete?
- Do you have the ability to make others smile and laugh?
Focus on coming up with at least five things you’re a natural at, and then breaking down which soft skills of yours have helped you be such a natural. These are most likely your strongest soft skills – ones you’ve possessed since very early on in your life.
4. Asking Others What Your Strengths Are
Once you’ve done some introspection and come up with a handful of strengths that you believe to be your strongest assets, it’s time to turn to the people you know and trust, to get an outside opinion.
5. Run Through a Hypothetical Scenario
Imagine your boss, coach, or teacher gives you a group project that needs to be completed by the end of the week.
Your success at your job, on the court, or in the classroom depends solely upon completing this activity well, and it’s a great opportunity to show what you’re made of.
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 three team members joining you on this project.
Now, ask yourself which role you naturally assume within your group. Do you become the organizer, leader, creative, a moderator, take a back seat, or something else entirely?
- Do you like the overall planning phase; or do you prefer getting straight down to business and doing the actual legwork during the project?
- Or take the initiative to assign responsibilities, or do you prefer to be given your role within the group?
- Do you interject if someone else starts to take over the role you want within the group?
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. From there, you can take a look back at which soft skills help you through the process.
6. What Are Some of Your Hard Skills?
Acknowledging, understanding, and focusing on using your hard skills is essential to maximizing your success potential. Here are a few examples of common hard skills that entrepreneurs possess:
- 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, advising on taxes for bloggers
- Marketing: Search Engine Optimization, SEM, proficiency with social media platforms, being adept at promoting a blog
7. What Do You Love to Do?
“Trying new things and risking failure is painful, but fuels your personal growth.”
How would you spend your time if you didn’t have to go into work every day?
Look first to the things you already do in your limited free hours around work and spending time with friends & family.
Do you like helping your friends talk through difficult situations at work or in their personal lives? Or spend your free time writing about life lessons you’ve learned through your travels? Do you go on outdoor adventures every weekend?
8. Deciding What Comes Next
Once you’ve gone through the process of identifying all of your core soft and hard skills, the real question is, what will you do with this knowledge?
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Culled from: Ryan Robbinson.