I have learned one of the most important characteristics for success as an entrepreneur is self-knowledge. Having a complete and accurate understanding of your best skills, what you like to do, how you like to work, and what you shouldn’t be doing is critical.
I feel like I’ve been living in the movie Groundhog Day because I have had the same conversation five times in the last week or so. Since Carol did this interview with me on entrepreneur.com, people jump on my calendar every week to talk about transitioning from entrepreneur to employee.
The stories they share have many things in common. Almost everyone says their business took longer to get traction than they thought it would, and they had to invest more money and time than they thought they would need to. Most people add the uncertainty of revenue coming in as another stressor.
Yes, I get it. Been there, done that, and have the T-shirt.
But, let’s say you’re committed to your business for the long haul. Here are some critical things that you need to know about yourself:
Know your best skills
What are your super powers? There are some skills you might easily identify, but there are probably several others you undervalue because they come easily to you. Make sure you include the things other people always come to you for help with in your inventory of best skills.
As you are building out your business, try to ensure you’re using these skills at least 60% of the time. Staying in your genius zone as much as possible will keep you energized and inspired.
Know what you like to do
Just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean you like doing it. I know a lot of people who are very good at data analysis, but they don’t want to spend all of their time doing it.
Also, if you like to do something that is a low-value task in your business, or one that could easily be offloaded to someone else, think about whether it’s a good use of your time.
You may decide to continue doing it because you enjoy it, or you may decide that your time would be better spent elsewhere.
Know how you like to work
One common theme I keep hearing is a feeling of isolation. If you’re a natural introvert, you may actually be living your dream working alone in your home office.
However, if you’re an extrovert, or even fall somewhere in between extrovert and introvert, you may find that too much time alone isn’t good for you. You may find yourself feeling blue or just out of it. Some people even start to experience low-level anxiety as well.
Many people tell me they miss bouncing ideas off of other people and collaborating.
Here’s the thing: There’s no reason you can’t do this as a solo or small business owner, but you’ll need to reach out to other people or join a group. (Carol wrote a great article about mastermind groups for your business.)
What I am seeing is it often does not occur to people to do this because they are “living the entrepreneurial dream.”
Know what you shouldn’t be doing
If you don’t or can’t balance your checkbook, it’s likely that you’ll put off your business’s bookkeeping for as long as possible. If you know this is a blind spot for you, get help sooner rather than later.
I have a problem sorting and organizing papers. I got fed up, hired a professional organizer to come work with me, and we went through nine years of papers in six hours. That was some of the best money I ever spent.
Could I have done it myself? Sure. But I would never have gotten around to it. Having Erin sitting there with me going through boxes of papers made me do it. She told me “body doubling” was the term professional organizers use for that.
Here’s what I know for certain: You will have a much easier time building your business if you maximize your strengths and manage against your weaknesses.
There’s no shame in needing help. None of us are good at everything. Be honest with yourself and get support where and when you need it.