I believe that your entrepreneurial strengths are critical for our country and very important for you individually.
The Small Business Administration says that for every business that starts today, within 3 years 40 percent are gone. Out of business. And 50 percent of the ones that remain are gone within 5 years.
The Gallup organization says that our country has been in a 30-year decline from an entrepreneurial startup perspective. Today is the first time in 35 years when there are more business deaths than there are business births.
According to Gallup, last year there were 400,000 businesses born and 470,000 businesses died. That’s a sad fact in our country.
Number Twelve… 12!
Right now, globally, Gallup says that the Unites States is number 12 in entrepreneurial startup activity. Number 12? Are you kidding me? How did that pendulum swing so far that it took us to number 12? Unbelievable!
When I read that statistic it absolutely blew me away.
This is The United States of America, the Land of Opportunity, the Land of Milk and Honey, where anything is possible. My ancestors came here from Sweden for economic opportunity. My wife’s family came here from Italy for exactly the same reason. And I’d venture a guess that If asked, you’ve got folks in your lineage that came to this country for economic opportunity as well.
I believe that these entrepreneurial talents are so critical for the health of our country and they are absolutely important for YOU. And, I’m going to tell you why.
What separates successful entrepreneurs from less successful entrepreneurs? As I’m going through this think about your business and if you don’t have one, think about your job in light of this entrepreneurial activity. Either way it is a business. What you do in the marketplace is a business.
Are there traits and behaviors that really drive individuals to start, sustain, and grow businesses? To grow a successful company? I believe so. And Gallup’s research proves it out.
Gallup has studied this stuff for 75 years. They’ve interviewed over a million business teams. They’ve done tens of thousands of individual interviews, and they have coached tens of thousands of executives, leaders, and managers.
Conventional Personal Development
What they have found is that the conventional approach to personal development is incomplete. It’s lacking. What the conventional approach says is that we should maintain our strengths, and fix our weaknesses.
John Maxwell says that if you’ve got a weakness and let’s say that on a scale from 1 to 10 this weakness is at about a 3. If you work really, really hard on fixing that particular trait, you might drive it all the way up to a 5, and at a 5, guess what? You’re still ineffective. That is conventional personal development.
Strengths-Based Personal Development
Strengths-based personal development, on the other hand, says that we need to focus on our strengths and manage our weaknesses.
That brings us to the entrepreneurial talents. They are:
- Business Focus
With all the years of study that Gallup has done they’ve boiled the data down to these 10 entrepreneurial talents.
A Tale of a Small Business… With Two Leaks!
After 16 years, I left a company that I’d helped found. I had been earning a strong six-figure income. It was a great business and a great company. We started with 5 people and 16 years later we were at 400+ people and a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue. That’s rare. That doesn’t happen often.
I had gotten to the point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I felt like I was filling my bank account and emptying my soul, and I wanted out. So I left, and I went out and started another company.
I started this new company in 2009! Do you remember the business economy in 2009? It was a horrible time to start a business. What is this guy thinking? I learned a lot over the next few years. It was a great education.
I started this business in an industry that I knew nothing about. Nothing! I didn’t know ANYTHING about this industry. It was electronics recycling business.
I jumped into this new venture. Three years in and I’d made every payroll. I had paid all of our vendors on time. We were adding revenue every year. Our bottom line was getting better. We were adding customers. I was hiring new employees, where we valued the idea of customer service.
Things were going okay.
But I looked back at the 16 years prior and I said, “We killed it in my prior business. What’s the difference here? Why is this thing not ramping up like I expected it to?”
There’s a Hole in My Boat!
I don’t know if it was dumb luck or if it was divine intervention, but I realized that there were some holes in my boat. One of those holes is on the list of the “10 entrepreneurial Traits” and it’s #4, “delegator.” My wife would probably tell you that I’m a little bit overbearing and a little bit controlling, and I like to have my fingers in all the pies.
Well as an entrepreneur that doesn’t work. You can’t do everything.
I found the hole and went out to fix it. I hired a lady named Claire. After about a month I got to know her better and felt like I could trust her. I asked Claire to take care of all of the employee delegation processes! To basically handle all the stuff that has to do with anything that’s not building-this-business-related. I wanted to get out of working in the business so I could get out and work on the business. So I said, “Claire I want you to take care of the rest of the stuff,” and she did.
Guess what? Our revenues ticked up. Amazing.
I found another hole in my boat and it’s on the list above too. It’s #1, “business focus.” What business focus says is that every decision that you make as an entrepreneur is put through a lens of profitability. If it’s profitable, you do it. If it makes sense from the bottom-line perspective, you do it.
Well… I am not a “coin operated” person. I have always struggled with downgrading the importance of money. Can you see why that could be a challenge for an entrepreneur?
To resolve the issue I brought in another partner, Theresa, and I gave her permission to handle all the finances in the business. I told her that she could question any decision that I made which affected the checkbook.
She would ask me, “Do we really need a second forklift? Does the truck really absolutely have to have new tires right now? They’re $600 dollars a piece. Do we need a second hard drive shredder or can we make the one we have work for another year or two?”
And she started questioning all the financial decisions. She would say things like, “The deal that you just did, the one you’re so excited about, what did we make on that?” My reply would be something like, “I don’t know but it felt good”.
No More Holes
So I patched those two holes in my boat and guess what? The revenue increased. It brought more success. I didn’t even know what Entrepreneurial Talents were, and I sure didn’t understand the importance of Discovering, Developing and Directing them!
Three To-Do’s re: Entrepreneurial Talents
With these Entrepreneurial Talents you have to do 3 things.
- You have to determine what they are for you and where you fall on the continuum
- You have to develop your entrepreneurial strengths.
- You have to direct them toward your ultimate goal and purpose.
First – The way that you determine these talents is through an assessment. Gallup has put out an assessment which helps discover your innate talents for starting and growing a business.
The assessment identifies people who have entrepreneurial talents that could be developed and applied, and it creates a common language for us to discuss these talents that are integral to entrepreneurial success.
Next – Develop your entrepreneurial talents through investing in skills and knowledge. For lesser talents or weaknesses you must develop fail-safe processes and procedures to account for the weakness or develop relationships with others who are stronger in those talents.
The business relationship that I developed with Claire and Theresa helped me manage the gaps or blind spots in my entrepreneurial talents. They helped me manage my entrepreneurial weaknesses.
Remember… Focus and manage instead of focus and fix.
Finally – The last task is direct. You have to direct your entrepreneurial talents towards your ultimate goal or your ultimate purpose as a businessperson. Whatever that is, you have to direct those talents that you’ve developed into strengths, towards that ultimate goal, that ultimate purpose.
The Assessment – Gallup’s EP10 Assessment
When you take the assessment you will see one of three levels of intensity each of the ten talents.
The intensity levels are; dominant, contributing, and supporting.
- Dominant talents are ones that are our strongest natural talents.
- Contributing talents are ones that we use occasionally.
- Supporting talents are ones that we don’t naturally lead with.
Context – for the TEN Talents
In 75 years of study, Gallup has determined that people who know their talents are 6 times more likely to be engaged in what they do. Imagine being more engaged. Not at 6 percent but 6 times more engaged on what it is that you do… SIX TIMES MORE ENGAGED!
They have determined that people that operate in their talents are 7.8, almost 8 times, not percent, more productive. SEVEN POINT EIGHT TIMES MORE PRODUCTIVE! Just by focusing on your strengths and managing your weaknesses.
Imagine what could happen in this country. If people Determined, Developed and Directed their Entrepreneurial Talents! These talents important for you and me as individuals and in our businesses, but imagine what could happen in this country.
This is not a political statement whatsoever; but whoever’s in power is always going to tell you, “Things are getting better. Things are getting better. Unemployment’s going down? The economy is recovering”.
Each side has their theorems that predict and support their agenda, whatever their agenda is. Either side, it doesn’t matter. They say that things are getting better.
If things are getting better, why are we having more businesses die than have start?
Where is the health of this country going to come from? Is it going to come from the federal government or is it going to come from people like you and me who are small businesses on Main Street? It’s going to come from us.
How do you become more engaged and more productive… and benefit yourself… AND your country? You Discover, Develop and Direct your talents. Six times more engaged and 7.8 times more productive!
As you can now see these talents are important for economic recovery in our country and they are critical for you as an individual or as a business owner.
We can swing that pendulum back the other way and put us back where we belong. Put it back where it was when my family, and yours, came to this country. Let’s start by Discovering, Developing and Directing our Entrepreneurial Talents.
If you’re like me, you’re asking, “OK! Now what”? Great question. I just launched an on-line course called “E-Strengths: Discover, Develop and Direct YOUR Entrepreneurial Talents“. I’d like to invite you to take a look and see if it’s for you. I will guarantee that you’ll be 100% thrilled by the results or the course is on me!
Remember what Gallup said:
- 6 Times More Engaged!
- 7.8% More Productive!
What’s that worth to YOU?