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Made, not born: key skills for entrepreneurial success

by | Aug 8, 2023 | General


It requires a unique skill set to be an entrepreneur. In addition to various technical and business acumen, research has identified specific personality factors associated with people who innovate successful businesses. Proactively enhancing these character strengths is key to maintaining mental wellbeing and resilience while navigating the long hours, consistent challenges, and internal fears that line the road to chasing our dreams.

Stresses that typically bring an entrepreneur down include work overload, a constant drive for achievement, and conflict between roles (for example – work/non-work/employee/entrepreneur). Female founders typically emotionally connect to their vision and whenever realism collides with expectations for the success of the venture, it can cause entrepreneurial stress.

Stress is commonly associated with loss of hope, optimism and drive – which negatively impacts motivation and productivity. Understanding how to access personality strengths to help restore balance and reset after set-backs enables female founders to stay the distance and  reach their business goals.

One of the key reasons women start their own venture is because they are disenfranchised with the world of work as a female employee. There is consistent evidence that across industries and organisations, systematic bias limits opportunities for growth and development available to women. When you start your own enterprise, be sure to foster those personality strengths and technical skills which are necessary to avoid limiting yourself in your aspirations.

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” Sun Tzu

Key skills to foster as an entrepreneur

  1. Enhanced self-awareness

Understanding yourself is essential to interpreting your relationship with the world. Be willing to embrace vulnerability in order to cast a light on areas of your character which serve and hinder you.

You have the courage to take a novel idea and work to turn it into a viable service for others. Now be brave in confronting gaps in your own development.  –Work to enhance your strengths and navigate your weaknesses with intelligence, compassion and humour.

“We thrive when we have a positive goal to move toward, not just a negative state we’re trying to move away from.” Emily Nagoski

  1. Alignment

Congruence between who we think we are and the person we show others is vital to emotional stability and contentment. Many people express a sense of discontent when they are, for instance, working in a job which is not aligned with their personal values.

One of the reasons you decided to become a female founder is likely to be a recognition that your work must matter – the long hours and consistent challenges are tolerated because you have a sense of inner connection to your venture.

Use your personal values as the guardrails for your decision making and goal setting to achieve a more sustainable and contented future.

It can be useful to explore your personal values further. Some useful links below:

 “Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.” Brené Brown

  1. Connection

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely enterprise. Many female founders give up ready access to colleagues and mentors to strike out on their own path. It is easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of managing competing priorities and challenges, but social and peer isolation are risk factors for the success of your business.

Research highlights that emotional resilience, the essence of being able to keep going when the going gets tough, is aided by maintaining strong connections in your personal and professional worlds. Foster connections through mentor groups, professional networking events, and stay in touch with colleagues and friends who are supportive and constructive. And if you are worried about making small talk it might help to  understand that the science of communication finds that we tend to underestimate how much our conversation partners enjoy our company, a phenomenon called “the liking gap”. You can read more about that here.

Being discerning in choosing your interpersonal connections is wise, not selfish. Sometimes, all the connection your soul needs is with art, nature, a pet, or yourself. Take time to find what works best for you, and then incorporate regular moments of that into your routine, for enhanced mental flexibility and well-being.

And, if you’re still worried about making small talk, I have some more recommendations for excellent resources:

  • The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine;
  • How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes;
  • Talk: The Science of Conversation and Art of Being Ourselves by Alison Wood Brooks; and
  • Small Talk, Big Results by Diane Windingland;
  • Or, you can watch this video.

By proactively developing these three key strategies, female founders can pave the way to success, realising their entrepreneurial potential and achieving their business goals. Remember, success is not solely determined by innate qualities but is attainable through continuous personal growth and development.

My work is about providing you with the knowledge and skills you need to be effective in creating your life and helping you to gain a clear sense of your personal values and purpose. For more information about booking one-on-one sessions with me click here or to find out more about my online courses click here.

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