Brian de HaaffFollowingUnfollowBrian de Haaff
CEO, Aha! — #1 product roadmap software
Some memes make the rounds online regularly. One that often pops up is the list of “10 things that require zero talent.” From big-picture traits like passion to daily habits like being on time, the list is a good reminder that success as an entrepreneur requires a strong foundation.
Building a business is hard work. It requires constant vigilance — and always being on the lookout for hidden opportunities.
That is why, rather than sleeping through a flight, you might spend two hours talking shop with your seatmate, who is an ideal consumer for your product — because you could pick up some valuable information. In fact, something similar just happened to me during a conversation where I learned that a parent on my son’s soccer team was a VP of product.
Most entrepreneurs that I know already do most of those 10 things that require zero talent. They have no problem being prepared or putting in extra effort.
But successful entrepreneurs take it farther with four more skills that set them apart. And luckily, those skills do not require special knowledge, an expensive degree, or any talent to cultivate.
So, what are these special skills — and how can you use them to build your own business?
The success of your business depends on how you solve your customer’s problems. How closely do you listen? How quickly do you interrupt with what you want to say? Instead of butting in, try attentive listening to understand the frustrations and challenges your customer faces. You will be better able to empathize and provide real solutions.
Do you feel like you are putting out fires every day — and not getting anywhere? The trouble may be that you consider all tasks to be created equal. Take time to prioritize what aligns to your strategic goals. Then set a plan to tackle (with tasks ordered by priority) and stick to it. You will accomplish more and see real progress.
Want to instantly make your customers happier? It costs you nothing to be more responsive. That means immediately following up on voicemails and responding to emails. Your customers will appreciate your fast response — and you find will more opportunities to connect.
Here is another skill — keeping an open mind. Start by expanding what you typically read to include materials that offer an alternate point of view, even the opposite of yours. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. When you challenge yourself to consider new ideas, you can more easily engage and build solid relationships with customers and your team.
These skills do not require any talent or cost to develop. But they do require an investment of time and effort.
You will not suddenly become a better listener or more open-minded overnight. But you can make these skills a priority. Your dedication will pay off in dividends — once you have a stronger, more nimble business to show for it.
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