A while ago I was asked this question in an interview with the NZ Entrepreneur Magazine. Personally I consider Confidence, Balance and Intuition as three of the most important skills one needs to succeed in business.
I’m not sure if I’d call them the “three most important business skills” as really, they are general skills and principles that can be applied to more than just business. But why these three?
- Confidence – without it, it’s next to impossible to recruit a team, raise funds, sell well, turn things around when you’re hitting a dark patch and, ultimately, just get yourself started and register a company. You really need to have confidence in yourself first and foremost to stand in front of your team, investors, partners and clients when you’re conveying an idea or a strategic roadmap. Without confidence, nobody will believe you. In order to have that confidence, two factors are essential,
1) know yourself (and keep getting better at knowing yourself all the time) and
2) trust your team (without it, you can’t scale that confidence).
Ask the “why” question above the “what” or “how” questions, both for things and people and with good answers, confidence arises. BTW: Trust and confidence go hand in hand. You can doubt yourself from time to time to get to know yourself better and reach a more mature confidence level, but, be careful when doubting life’s purpose in general. Chances are, that at this very moment, you’re out of balance.
- Balance – being an entrepreneur and particularly so in a young startup is incredibly stressful, hard work and comes with a lot of sacrifices. If you ask me when I went to the cinema the last time, I don’t remember. Some time last year I think. Make no mistake, there is no shortcut to entrepreneurial success than through hard, hard work. But that’s where balance comes in and where it is so important. For instance – I like movies and I like the cinema, but I’m not feeling lost or suffer, if I haven’t been in a year or two. But, I really like swimming. Living next to a beautiful beach and not having a swim every day because my workload wouldn’t permit it, that’s impacting my personal and professional balance.
There is no question, that every entrepreneur is facing the problem of work-life balance all the time, but there is the question of how you deal with it. Know what is important to you and have very clear techniques and recipes of how to consciously create balance in your life, especially when it’s getting lost. Note that if you’re the founder or CEO of a business, there is an incredible connection between your personal mood and the companies general performance or even team members individual situations. So maintaining balance to me is a key skill that serves not only myself personally and professionally, but everybody else I’m associated and working with.
- Intuition – normally I wouldn’t call this “Intuition” but it really encompasses the other needs that come with it, such as ethics/principles, mindfulness and gut feeling (or having a 6th sense). While “there is no second chance for the first impression” you can always make up for a bad first impression with constant and continuous improvements – it’s hard, but it’s possible.However, if you’ve made a great impression first and then disappointed somebody, it is much harder to again instill trust and confidence into your leadership. Yet this is a key requirement to succeed, because sooner or later (and if you’re at fault or not), you will disappoint people. It’s a fact of life and only a matter of time. To deal with this, that’s where ethics and principles really matter.However ethics in today’s world have a problem: they’re either tied to certain achievements (he or she made it), religious beliefs (it is written that…) or scientific research (… found that…). So no matter what’s the basis of today’s ethics and despite having their individual merits, they all have their limits.Therefore being mindful is very important. This applies as much to legal contracts as to hiring decisions and the spoken word or Tweet that as an entrepreneur I’m ultimately responsible for. The challenge with mindfulness is though, that it still revolves around a great deal of thinking. Thinking however takes only those things into consideration that we know, not those which we can’t know yet. Just like big data analytics can be quite soulless and misleading by producing the wrong conclusions despite having great KPI’s and metrics in place. Unless you can bend the light, knowing the unknown is not possible, but developing a gut feeling for what’s around the corner, very much is.
For an entrepreneur in balance, intuition is a data independent tool to develop continuous confidence and vision.
It helps to detect ethical imbalances such as ignorance and overconfidence (or arrogance) before they lead to bad decisions or a lack of leadership.
I believe entrepreneurs and business people in general should focus more on learning techniques that help to strengthen these principles.