You have read all of the articles on “steps you need to take” to have a chance at being a successful entrepreneur. You wrote a clear business plan that includes: your product/service description, market analysis, competition, marketing, sales strategy, financial analysis, management, and long-term strategy. You hired the technical and leadership skills needed to be successful, and you are passionate about your product or service.
However, success doesn’t always come to those who are tenacious or opportunistic. This sure helps, but I believe an essential side of a successful entrepreneur has often been ignored: the human element.
Here is what I mean when I refer to the “human element”:
- The ability to get along with people – With so many different personalities in this world, a successful entrepreneur needs to adapt his or her character to a wide range of people’s personalities. A measure of success is your ability to get along with people no matter who they are, both externally and internally, and to be able to work with a team. One should connect well with people and develop consideration towards them to gain their cooperation and respect. Don’t most people do business with people they like?
- The ability to network with people – As a follow-on to the above, if you don’t like interacting with people or would rather sit behind a desk and do innovative work, you will have a hard time being successful. Networking and mingling with people to tell your story is an excellent form of marketing for your firm and shows people you have passion for what you do.
- Your approach is always positive – There is still the likelihood of setbacks when you start something new, and there will be naysayers who say you can’t do it. Believing you can do it is half the battle, and keeping your spirits high can be difficult. If you know your strengths, believe in them, and embark on a positive approach, your journey towards success will be enhanced. This is your human element and what you project onto others.
- Service is the driver, Not money – Really, Mark? How can you think that way? I get this comment all the time. My philosophy is pretty simple. It would be best if you were more concerned about what you can put into a situation (or your company), not what you get out of it. Most people get it backward. Sure the bottom line (revenue and profits) is always essential. Still, when you provide a product or service that solves a need AND you provide something over and above that, it sets you apart (like superior customer service), and you will win.
Successful entrepreneurs know that even the best products or services cannot sell themselves. I think that entrepreneurs who create solid relationships and networks can sell anything. Relationships, both personal and professional, are critical to success. This is especially true even if you don’t have a physical presence and operate an Internet-based business. By building relationships through social media, industry-related events, affiliations, partnerships, and associations, you bring a more significant human element to your business (although you have to be careful about using technology because it creates less interaction between people (face to face).
Every successful entrepreneur knows that these relationships and connections are the keys to building exposure, trust, and referrals. It’s not about sales, but rather about providing something of value and making credibility by sharing thoughts, giving advice, and adding value and solutions to others’ lives. By doing this, the revenue will come. People will want to do business with you if they believe you care about them and are sincere in your communications and interactions.