Looking for real-world advice to become a successful entrepreneur?

At EWOR, we’re surrounded by the very best innovators and founders. Over the years, we’ve collected advice from our Fellows and advisors on what makes a successful entrepreneur. Read on to find out our top five tips.

They Surround Themselves With Good People

As well as working on yourself, frequenting and working with the right people is crucial to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Experienced Advisor and Board Professional Otmar Debald advises every budding entrepreneur looking to scale their startup to surround themselves with experienced people who have done it before. If you run into issues, chances are your advisors will have had the same ones, and will be able to help you out of them.

That said, the danger is to define your business a certain way and only surround yourself with people who are experts in that niche. Steer clear of that tunnel vision. An extensive, eclectic network is vital to feed yourself with diverse perspectives.

Spend some time finding out about prominent events in your space, get on professional associations’ mailing lists. Although Covid-19 has brought along challenging times, it has also made attending events a lot easier. Technology has made accessing resources and speaking at conferences and business roundtables possible from anywhere.

Our founder Daniel Dippold shared his top tip for increasing your social capital and expanding your network: never eat alone. That way, you could feasibly meet 700 new people in a year!

They Hire From a Diversity of Backgrounds

Scaling your business is a challenge – too often, diversity is thrown out of the window when organisations are focused on recruiting at speed. Even when diversity is achieved, inclusion remains a challenge for some companies.

At this point, we shouldn’t have to outline why hiring from a diversity of backgrounds is all-important. A variety of perspectives, experiences and knowledge can drive innovation and help you solve problems in new ways. Recruiting people with diverse backgrounds both ethnically and in terms of training can be a great asset to your company – each individual will bring potential new solutions. 

Throughout your recruitment process, keep in mind the values you want to embrace, make sure you are hiring and retaining people against those values. Get the right person to do the right things. Be clear about the roles and your expectations. 

The quality of management is also vital to ensure a workplace is inclusive. Working with a passionate and motivated leader makes all the difference. Role models are particularly important inside your company – can people see someone that represents them? Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. Commit to Diversity, Inclusion and Justice in a tangible way. 

They Are Personable

Forming connections with other people is extremely important to be a successful entrepreneur. To establish a connection with someone, you need to feel comfortable around each other and find out what interests them, what they do in their spare time, what books they read, etc. No information is too trivial. 

It’s often when you’re not trying to sell anything that selling occurs. Adrenaline is contagious. People will want to know about your journey, want insights into what excites you. As International Business Leader Sean Gallagher explained in our blog post How to Create a Successful B2B Sales Strategy, “Converse, don’t pitch to your customer.” Don’t interrogate your potential customer, have a normal conversation and make them feel heard. 

When you sit down with a group of people, consider what your intention is. Do you want to inspire them, change them, teach them or learn from them? Relational competencies are often overlooked in entrepreneurship. People assume when they come to you you’ve got some degree of technical ability – the question is, can they work with you? Are you going to be a source of inspiration, drive, change, innovation?

They Ask Plenty of Questions

Developing communications finesse and how to speak convincingly in real-time is vital as an entrepreneur. Clients come to you because they know you’ve got expertise – they’ll want to know how you think on your feet, how you react to difficult questions or situations.

Ask questions. Nowadays, there is a bias towards expertise and credibility. We all want to show we know the answers, but clients are often hungrier for good questions, which can be more satisfying than a display of expertise. Any query asked can shed light on a pain point – a good entrepreneur should understand the root cause of what their clients want.Communication is not something you study, it’s something you practice. Learn that skill by throwing yourself into difficult situations and conversations, asking plenty of questions, and being open and receptive to questions.

They Set Boundaries

Be it for your time, attention, money or resources – set boundaries. A successful entrepreneur knows when to say no and focus on their main objectives.

Eric Steinberger, Co-Founder and CEO of Climate Science, summed this up well: work for the right start-up, not the first start-up. “The fine line between giving up and dropping the wrong thing to do the right one is being honest with yourself about why things didn’t work,” he told us. If you’ve started on a venture that isn’t working out, don’t just keep going because of your ego. For more of his insights into starting a non-profit organisation, read our interview here.

You may come up with ten amazing business ideas at once; not all of them are worth pursuing. Some ideas might be interesting but too far away from what you’re doing to pursue them. However, there are different ways of getting involved in a venture you’re interested in: you could sit on the board of an organisation or provide help as an advisor, for example. While pursuing more than one thing is an advantage of the entrepreneur lifestyle, remember to stay true to your mission.

Here at EWOR, we’ve got plenty more resources to help you on your path to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Our blog contains insights on a variety of topics including whether speed reading actually works or the benefits of mentorship.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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