Check out the latest in our Defining Entrepreneurship series by CEO, Kevin Koym. “Knowing Thyself” covers the basics of understanding how your strengths and weaknesses will impact your venture and your future as an entrepreneur.
I’m here to talk to you about another topic in our Defining Entrepreneurship series. Today, we’ll discuss what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. There are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to what defines an “entrepreneur”; some of them might be true and some of them I actually don’t think are true. Like this guy, do you have to be this arrogant beast to actually be a successful entrepreneur? You don’t. In fact, you don’t have to be that guy. The types of successful entrepreneurs out there currently are very diverse.
Anyone can be an entrepreneur. I actually really believe that. Not everyone will and there’s a set of reasons for this, but the main thing that I want you to hear out of this is that I truly believe that anyone, if they really make an earnest choice towards being an entrepreneur, can get there and be successful.
What does it take? It actually takes two things and I’m going to talk about one in depth today and then we’ll save the next one for a future time to talk. But the first is awareness of self. One of the biggest issues for entrepreneurs is that they can’t see themselves in action. The second part is being connected and I don’t mean just being connected to some old boy’s network, but also being connected in a certain way. In a future talk, we’ll talk about how to get connected in a community how you can leverage that for business success.
I want to give you a couple ideas about how to go about knowing thyself. The best entrepreneurs in the world – whether you read about Steve Jobs or Richard Branson – have something that sets them apart, and that is how well they know themselves. A lot of people fail because they’re blind. They’re blind to seeing their own actions. As an example, the best athletes in the world all have coaches. What’s the difference between the athletes at one level versus the athlete at a higher level, with natural performance versus someone that really performs on a world stage? It’s because they have a coach and they have other ways of overcoming their blindness.
One of the ways that we handle this at the Tech Ranch® is through two tools we use in our programs. There are a lot of different tools out there, but I’m going to point to these two. One of them is a profiling tool called Myers-Briggs. It’s not about getting a right score or a wrong score, but about seeing something more about yourself. I’ll talk about that and also talk about the Strength Finders. Strength Finders, again, another profiling tool. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. We like both of these tools because they’re low cost, but they give you a lot of information to work with.
In the case of the Myers-Briggs. I am an ENFP. Now, it takes a long time to explain all the different parts Myers-Briggs model. It’s fairly intricate. But what’s interesting about this is what it shows me. The E stands for extrovert, the N stands for intuitive, meaning I make a lot of decisions from my gut. The F says that I actually make a lot of my decision choices for how I look at people versus just things. The P says I like to make decisions and roll with the punches, I like to plan things kind of last minute. Whereas a person with the J at the opposite end of the spectrum is someone that likes to plan things out continuously.
In my early career even though I was financially successful, I wasn’t very happy as an entrepreneur. This face was on the cover of Computerworld Magazine, but I was not happy about everything that was happening because financial success did not equal happiness. I took Myers-Briggs and had a professional work with me to talk about the results…what it said was, “Hey wait, because you’re an ENFP, you should be working with people, you shouldn’t just be working behind a computer.” I was this gifted CTO, but not very happy about it. I still work with technology now, but I work with people.
The tool we use here at Tech Ranch® is the Strengths Finders test. Strengths Finders has this list of almost 40 different strengths and when you take the test it gives you your top five. In my case, I learned something about myself by looking at each one of my five. My number one strength is I like to take action very quickly as an entrepreneur. In fact, some people are ready, aim, fire; some people are ready, fire, aim; I am fire, fire, fire, fire, fire. In some of my previous startups, that was a problem becauseI didn’t realize that the whole world didn’t see the way I did. This being, here’s an opportunity, let’s just attack it, let’s attack it, let’s attack it. A lot of what I needed to learn how to do in the business that I have now is, that I’ll take action, but I’ll put around me the right people. When you take this profile, you’re actually going to learn four other strengths and it’s going to tell you, based on these five strengths, who and what you need to organize around yourself. We all will end up with different strengths, but in my case because I learned about my top five, I overcame a little bit of my blindness.
You can increase your chance of success by just knowing more about yourself. One of the fundamental things that we do at the Tech Ranch® – both for our team internally as well as our entrepreneurs that we work with – is we want to help give you the greatest chance of success as possible. One of the ways of doing that is knowing thyself. Look into how you can discover more about yourself. Get involved to one of our programs, look at Venture Forth® where you actually take these profiles with us or do them on your own and just look self-reflectively, “How can I actually learn what I need to learn so that I can be a more successful entrepreneur and have a greater chance at success?”