The Most Important Skill Every Successful Entrepreneur Needs

The Most Important Skill Every Successful Entrepreneur Needs
Young entrepreneur standing in office looking out the window

What if there was just one skill that will help you become successful entrepreneur? You probably saw plenty of articles about X skills successful entrepreneur needs. We all did. This article is different. It is not about X skills. It is about just one skill. This skill is so important that your whole life depends on it. You don’t want to become an entrepreneur? Still, learning about this skill will make a difference in your life. So, are you ready to find out what is that skill am I talking about?

The truth about selling

Believe it or not, everything in your life is related to selling. This is not a joke. It is also not true only for person on the path to become successful entrepreneur. Seriously. It doesn’t matter what you do. Do you work as an accountant, designer, programmer, clerk or teacher? You are in sales! Are you still at school? The same thing! Even if you are homeless right now you are in sales sometimes. I know that many people will not want to believe me. So, I will give you a number of examples.

Imagine you are somewhere on the street and see beautiful woman or man. You summon some courage and decide to start a small conversation with her or him. Guess what. During this conversation you are constantly selling yourself. And, that woman or man is doing the same if she or he thinks that you are interesting. This is not the only example of selling in a daily life. Let’s say you want to take someone out to dinner. Then, your are selling at least two things.

The first thing is you. You have to convince that person to spend her time with you. The second thing is the restaurant. You have to convince that she will like the restaurant you chose. When you sell her on both of these things, she will agree. If not, she will either reject you or come up with objections. When you have to deal with objections, it means that your arguments were not convincing enough. You can apply this to any other situation in your life.

Do you want to get a new job? Well, guess what. You will again have to sell yourself to potential employer. This means presenting yourself and your skills in the best light.

Salesmen by nature

This brings me to one question. If selling is so ingrained in our life, is it something we are born with? Are we all salesmen by nature? I’m not talking about the image many people think about when you mention that word. You know what do I mean. Yes, that sleazy car or snake oil salesmen. These people are tricksters and fraudsters. When you think about great salesman, forget these people. We have much better example – children. Children are the best salesmen in the world!

Think about it. When children want something, they will usually find a way to get it. Sure, some of these methods can be quite unethical. We all probably heard about a child lying on the floor and screaming at the whole supermarket. Potentially good strategy to “convince” parent to buy some unplanned foods. I’m not so sure whether this could work to get a job or find an investor. So, don’t try it. It will not help you become successful entrepreneur.

Another example of natural salesmen are parents. Often, parents have to sell their children on some idea. For example, when parents want to convince children to tidy up their room or do homework. Parents have to find out how to sell the idea. Otherwise, they will have to deal with objections and resistance. I’m convinced that we are all salesmen by nature. Yes, I believe that selling is in our blood. Still in doubt? Maybe, To Sell Is Human book by Daniel Pink will help.

The most important sale of your life

What if I told you that there is only one sales preventing you from becoming successful entrepreneur? Yes. Not two, ten, hundred or thousand sales. Just one sale between you and the biggest goal of your life. This is not a joke. You have to nail just this one sale to put yourself on the right path. Unfortunately, for many people, this is the most difficult sale of their life. It is about selling yourself to yourself. In other words, you have to on 100% believe in yourself.

I can’t stress enough how important this is. There are a lot of people trying to fake this. In addition, there are many people who ignore this subject. I can’t tell you exactly what makes these people think they can ignore self-belief. Believing in yourself in is crucial in becoming a successful entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are interested in. You have to first sell yourself to yourself. Otherwise, you will have a hard time convincing your customers.

Fake it till you make it?

This is where the majority of people usually fail. When these people want to sell something, they don’t believe their own words. It is a fact that our body reflects our thoughts. These reflections are usually unconscious. You may not even know about them. However, the problem is when these reflections are not inline with your words. For example, when amateur poker players are bluffing, they often show certain signs. This is why some people are quite easy to defeat.

The same is true for situations of uncertainty, nervousness and lying. In situations such as these, our bodies usually betray us. You move with your hands too much, or touch specific parts of your body to alleviate stress. Another example is taking a specific position. Apart from these positions, there are universal microexpressions. These microexpressions last for a very short time. As a result, people can’t control them unless they have a training for that.

However, this time is enough so we can unconsciously spot these microexpressions. Then, when we spot them, our brain can decode and interpret them. As a result, if you are nervous, people can feel that something is wrong. Since lower self-confidence can play significant role in your nervousness, it can directly influence these microexpressions. As a result, your body can betray you, even if you are not hiding anything.

Successful entrepreneur without confidence?

Is it possible to succeed without being sold on yourself? Can you achieve something really big in your life if you don’t believe in yourself? In other words, is self-confidence prerequisite for becoming a successful entrepreneur? I highly doubt that. If you are not confident enough, chances are that you will never reach your goals. It is likely that you will lack the motivation necessary to achieve your goals. Think about it. If you don’t believe you can achieve it, why would you even try?

Let’s say that one of your goals is to build successful startup. What do you think is the probability that you will reach this goal if you don’t believe in yourself? This probability is very low because you will have doubts about every step to achieve this goal. And, if these doubts will be strong enough, they will take all your energy. Another possible consequence is that you will experience analysis paralysis. This is usually a dead end, unless you know how to deal with it.

This is why many books on goal setting often dedicate some space to developing confidence or self-believe. We discussed this earlier. If you want to start setting goal and reach them, read that article. In addition, there is one thing about confidence I should mention. You don’t need to have extremely high levels of confidence. At least not in the beginning. What you need is just enough to get started and keep going.

In other words, you have to believe that you can get where you want somehow. You may not know how will you get there yet. However, this is not important. It’s about believing that your goal is possible to achieve through hard work and persistence.

Your confidence and people around you

I believe that in order to be successful entrepreneur you need certain dose of confidence. I can’t tell you the exact amount because everyone is different. Also, there are other factors that can have an impact on your chances to succeed. What I mean is that you may have issues with low confidence. However, you are surrounded by people encouraging and supporting you. As a result, your confidence may increase. These people can be your family, friends, colleagues or partner.

On the other hand, people around you may want to discourage you from becoming an entrepreneur. Another type of situation is when you are on your own. There is no one discouraging you from entrepreneurship. However, there is also no one you can talk with when you are going through tough times. As a result, your confidence may decrease or prone to fluctuating. If you depend on extrinsic motivation, you are also more likely to give up when you hit the wall.

Keep in mind that there are exceptions. Some people are able to cope with the last two situations. And, not only that. These people are able to make this their advantage. It helps them become more resilient, resourceful and self-reliant. These people are usually those you read about when you look for model of successful entrepreneur. Take a look at the list of the richest people in the world and you will find many people matching this description.

I like to say that diamonds are made under pressure. I believe that every difficult situation in your life can make you stronger. The only thing that matters is whether your let the situation break you or not. You can see it as an opportunity to grow your resilience. It is all only about your perception.

Building confidence one success at the time

Do you know that previous successes will grow confidence? This is not a joke. The more successes you have, the higher your confidence becomes. In other words, successful entrepreneur is created one success at the time. The good news is that it doesn’t matter how big or small these successes are. Nobody says that you has to take some incredible risks. You don’t have to go and jump of the cliff wishing to build rock-solid confidence.

The truth is that, for some people, this works. Some people need very strong nudge to change something. Small steps will simply never do the job. Why to go roller skating if you can do bungee jumping or skydiving? On the other hand, there are people scared just by the idea of leaving their comfort zone. If that’s your case, it is better to start small and gradually build up your confidence. Otherwise, you can get stuck. This is why knowing yourself is so important.

You can read as many books about building confidence as you want. However, you may find that none of that works for you. People are not created equal. Every one of use is less or more different. In addition, we all have different goals. Let’s also not forget that even the phrase “successful entrepreneur” means something different for different individuals. So, what works for one may not work for you. You have to try different approaches to find the right dose for you.

One way to find how to build your confidence is taking a look at your past. Your past can show you what worked and what didn’t. Were you more successful with smaller risk and steps? Or, was it better for you to take bigger risks? Find the best fit for you so you can sell yourself.

When your ego is your enemy

Building your confidence is important for selling yourself to yourself. However, this can also create one specific problem. Your success can let your ego become too big. As your successes stack up and your confidence grows, it can get out of your control. Before you realize it, your ego takes over your life. As a result, you will become arrogant and blind to your own flaws. You start to ignore people pointing out to your mistakes and weaknesses. Soon, you will start avoiding these people.

Unfortunately, this is not the worst. It is just the beginning of a downward spiral. This spiral usually leads to rock bottom. Quite often, it is this oversized ego why some successful entrepreneur lost everything. Oversized ego makes you feel invincible. It makes you feel like you can’t make a mistake. It makes investor think he can’t make a bad bet. It makes student think that he is right, not his professor. It makes the CEO neglect signs of problems and potential need for pivot.

In a short, ego can be a force that will destroy everything you’ve built so far. This is article about confidence and selling yourself to yourself. To sell yourself to yourself, and others, you need to have some ego. I should mention that by ego I don’t mean boasting yourself or pumping your chest. When I talk about ego, I talk about a self-worth. This also means that ego can’t coexist with humility. Rather the opposite. There are a lot of people with high self-worth who are very humble.

People with low self-worth or confidence are often those who boast the most. These people want to hide their flaws to protect their ego. They are not completely sold on themselves. Their ego and confidence is a house of cards.

When your ego is your ally

We could talk about the negative sides of ego whole day. However, ego can also be a positive force. Healthy ego can push you forward and fuel your growth and progress. It does so by reminding you that you are capable of achieving more. When you achieve one goal, it is your ego what nudges you to go to the next level. Let’s say you’ve built your first company and became successful entrepreneur. Then, your ego can push you to look for another problem worth solving.

Healthy ego will also tell you when you should change the direction of your life or your goals. It can help you realize that some goal may not be worth it. Not all goals are good and not all goals are necessary. Healthy ego will help you find out which to pursue. The question is, what is a healthy ego? Healthy ego means that you believe in yourself and you are not afraid of challenges. You know that every challenge is an opportunity to test your skills and to learn. You can’t lose.

In some way, having an open mind and growth mindset are necessary for developing healthy ego. This is what it means being sold on yourself. It is not about being arrogant or delusional. It is about knowing that every challenge is an opportunity to learn. You know that you can handle anything life throws at you. Sure, you may not know the solution at this moment. However, you know that you will always figure it out.

Still, it can happen that your ego will get too big. To avoid this, you have to regularly check your ego. No matter how successful entrepreneur you are, you need to keep your ego at bay. This will keep you from hitting the rock bottom.

Your first step start here

We discussed selling, confidence and how it will help you become successful entrepreneur. The question is, where you should start. What is the first step towards building your self-confidence? How can you sell yourself to yourself? My answer is that it depends. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that will work for everyone. This all starts with you. You have to be willing to test yourself if you want to learn about yourself. Only by testing your skills you can find how developed they are.

Let’s say that your self-confidence is below the ideal level. Meaning, you either don’t believe in yourself at all or have a lot of doubts. Whatever the case is, you are hesitant to bet on yourself. You believe that failure is inevitable. You may also seek approval. In other words, you are not sold on yourself and you depend on other. The first step is finding out the edges of your comfort zone. You have to find the point where you start feeling uncomfortable.

Constantly push your limits

The second step is making yourself more comfortable with these feeling. And, not only that. You should start seeking these moments of discomfort. This way, you increase your resilience. Just remember that, for some people, making small steps is better. So, don’t push yourself too much, at least not in the beginning. However, make sure to regularly increase the pressure. Otherwise, you will not sustain your progress. Once you adapt to the discomfort, raise the bar.

Think about it as working out. If you want to grow your muscles, you have to challenge them. You need to increase the load, rest or time under tension. Otherwise, your will get stuck. The same is true for your comfort zone. As you expose yourself to new challenges, and pass them, your comfort zone will expand. As a result, what was once challenge for you will no longer work. Therefore, you need to constantly push the limits and make yourself uncomfortable.

These two steps will help you build the confidence necessary to become successful entrepreneur. They will also increase your chance of selling yourself to yourself and others. When you start to speak and act as a confident person, other people will see you that way. You may also experience interesting placebo effect. Meaning, you will see yourself as a confident person even if you are not completely sold on that. These steps will be enough to get you on the right track.

Closing thoughts on becoming successful entrepreneur

In the beginning, I made one promise. This promise was telling you about one skill that will help you become successful entrepreneur. Now, we are at the end. So, what do you think? Did I keep my promise? Do you know what is that one skill you need to become successful entrepreneur? I think so. However, in case you missed it, it is all about selling. It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not. You are selling something every day either to yourself or to others.

You don’t need to want to become successful entrepreneur. Still, there is no way you can avoid selling in some shape and form. The brighter side of this is that selling is something you were born with. Maybe you forgot you have this skill because you were not using. However, it is still somewhere deep inside you waiting until you discover it again. Many people are afraid of selling or don’t like it. Don’t be one of them. Embrace it. It is the key to get what you want.

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By Alex Devero

I'm Founder/CEO of DEVERO Corporation. Entrepreneur, designer, developer. My mission and MTP is to accelerate the development of humankind through technology.

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