The 10 Must-Have Talents of Successful Entrepreneurs

Have you ever wondered what highly successful entrepreneurs had in them that made them so successful. What was their secret sauce? How did they crack the code to extreme entrepreneurial success?

I started my last brick and mortar business at the end of 2008. It was an electronics recycling venture. The market had so much potential and I had a unique hook that no one else was capitalizing on. This hook was our differentiator and it kept us competitive in one of the most difficult of economic times.

I thought I had the world by the tail. I had been highly successful in other start up endeavors in the past. The difference this time was that I was on my own, no cohorts, no partners, just me.

The business chugged along. I never missed a payroll and never paid a vendor late. I thought I was firing on all cylinders. My strengths as an entrepreneur were infinite… or at least I thought they were.

Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder (aka Entrepreneurial Profile 10)

Recently I attended a certification course focused on Entrepreneurial Strengths at the Gallup Organization in Omaha, NE. My goal was to figure this thing out. To get from Gallup, the combination that would unlock the mystery for me. Well, I did just that! Gallup laid before me the roadmap detailing all of the pieces that are required for ultimate entrepreneurial success.

The answer lies in one’s innate talents, their entrepreneurial talents. The Gallup course is focused on discovering, developing and directing these talents. They showed me the light and I want to share what I learned from them. I want to give you the tools that may save you from the frustration I felt. So, I decided to offer an online course to help entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs uncover these critical talents.

Gallup Research

If you’re familiar with the work done at Gallup and their focus on talents and strengths, you have probably heard of, or may have even taken the StrengthsFinder assessment. This assessment ranks you in 34 unique innate talents. Gallup used a similar methodology to determine where you fall in the ten entrepreneurial strengths.

Gallup has conducted extensive research in the entrepreneurial space and determined that there are ten talents that are the source of entrepreneurial potential.

Before we talk about the ten talents we need to understand a few things. Let’s examine the differences between knowledge, skills and talent.

Knowledge

Knowledge is what you have learned through education, either formal or informal. Knowledge can be taught. You are always learning throughout your life, in the classroom or throughout the course of your daily travels. You learned from your experience not to touch a hot stove. You learned when to speak up and when to keep your opinions to yourself.

Skill

The steps required to perform an activity make up a skill. You learned to read, to write, to ride a bike, drive a car, to balance a spreadsheet, to conduct a successful meeting and present your products and services to customers. If “it” has a set of steps, you can probably learn how to do “it”.

Talent

Finally there’s talent. Gallup defines talent as “a natural, recurring pattern of thoughts, feelings or behaviors that can be productively applied”. Talent is what you do, say or think without much effort. These are the things that come naturally to you.

Talent includes things like creative thinking, being competitive, confidence and natural giftedness at building relationships. These things can not be taught. You can learn to play football but you can not be taught to be competitive. You can be taught to sing a song, but you can not be taught the confidence required to sing that song in front of an audience of a thousand people.

Talent is the foundation. Talent is potential. If you start with your talent you can build from there. That building is the addition of knowledge and skill. Have you ever met someone who you’d call a “natural”? He’s a natural! She’s so good! She’s a natural!

The person you refer to as a “natural” has taken their talent, added knowledge and skill to develop a “strength”. A strength, according to Gallup, is “when you have the ability to produce positive outcome through near perfect performance”. Some salespeople have this, some athletes have this and some entrepreneurs have this.

  • What activities are you naturally drawn to? They excite you and you want to get involved.
  • What activities do you seem to pick up quickly? You intuitively seem to do well at these.
  • What activities did you seem to have a subconscious moments of excellence where you have looked back at and said, “how did I do that?”
  • What activities energize you? When you’re done you can’t wait to do them again.

Entrepreneurship

Gallup defines entrepreneurship as “the art of turning an idea into a customer”. This is much broader than what you might ordinarily think of as entrepreneurship… or “starting a company”.

Entrepreneurship is about people who are enterprising. An enterprising person can be a member of a club who finds new ways to promote and attract new members. He can identify new ways of bringing in new customers to a business. She can be one who creates new produce or services as an employee of an existing business.

According to Gallup

Entrepreneurship builds businesses by starting them or growing existing ones.
Entrepreneurship creates jobs by attracting customers and then hiring people to support them.
Entrepreneurship energizes the economy by helping to grow communities and cities.
Entrepreneurship requires a unique set of talents.

Entrepreneurial Traits

Gallup studied over 4000 entrepreneurs to determine what separates highly successful businesses from the less successful businesses. After years of study, 10 talents of successful entrepreneurs rose to the top.

Here are the 10 talents:

  1. Business Focus
  2. Confidence
  3. Creative Thinker
  4. Delegator
  5. Determination
  6. Independent
  7. Knowledge-Seeker
  8. Promoter
  9. Relationship-Builder
  10. Risk-Taker

As I look back at that electronics recycling business (which I sold in 2013) I can see where my Entrepreneurial Strengths were utilized and where they were stretched to the brink.

Of the ten talents, I rank “dominant” in 8 and “contributing” in two. They say that hindsight is 20/20 right. Well the two areas where I was not dominant were the difference between success and wild success. I see now that these two “contributing” traits kept us out of the Promised Land.

The solution is as obvious as the nose on my face! I needed to account for the two areas where I was not dominant. In retrospect the solution is so simple. In the heat of battle I could not see it.

So here I sit, with what I now consider as the “entrepreneurial key” that could have unlocked a door that I didn’t even know was there… I know that sounds salesy but I’m not sure how else to put it. If I could turn back time and see my blind spots I would have saved myself from unnecessary frustration. We were good, but we could have been GREAT.

What about you?

Have you ever stopped to consider that there may be some blind spots in your business? Is it possible that there are some talents that you don’t have? Some gaps that need to be filled? Are you curious where you fall on these ten talents?

As someone who has been there and done that, I want to help you uncover these gaps. I want to give you and others the tools that may save you from the frustration I felt.

I am working on a course to help Entrepreneurs demystify this whole process… stay tuned! We should be ready to launch within the next 4-5 weeks!