If you’re asked to think about what kind of traits contribute greatly to making an entrepreneur as successful as they can possibly be, you’ll likely come up with a bunch of type-A, alpha characteristics, such as a tendency to be proactive, forcefulness in the workplace, being comfortable with conflict, assertiveness, self-belief, even to a fault, and so on.
And those things really do contribute to success to a large degree in most business ventures. But there is such a thing as being too self-assured, and too quick to rush in where angels fear to tread. In fact, a certain degree of modesty can be vitally important — essential, even — to your ability to achieve your full potential as an entrepreneur.
This is the kind of modesty which doesn’t shrink back and hide in the shadows, but which pauses, considers other viewpoints and factors, takes responsibility for shortcomings as well as for successes, and which, in any number of ways, contributes significantly to your ability to succeed in your chosen field.
Arrogance means inflexibility, and inflexibility in business inevitably means stagnation and ruin, usually in a fairly short order.
A degree of professional modesty, on the other hand, can temper your more assertive and outgoing traits, and allow you to be dynamic rather than rigid, in the face of the always-dynamic, and ever-changing world of business.
Here are some success tips, rooted in a balanced kind of modesty, that can transform the trajectory of your career for the better.
Know when to outsource
For many entrepreneurs, nothing is a bigger blow to the ego than the idea that they, personally, might not be the best equipped to carry out every single task in the business to the highest possible standard.
It’s easy to see how this could be a sore point. Entrepreneurs typically nurture their business from the ground up, develop it from the days when no one else even saw any potential in it, and work around the clock — often singlehandedly — in order to develop their projects into the kinds of things that can reliably and realistically compete in the market.
Sooner or later, however, as your business increases and its scope grows in complexity, you can expect to reach a point where you — the individual entrepreneur — have too much to do, and not enough time, energy, and expertise to do them all.
You might be an expert in the particular type of product you sell, for example, but you might not also be an expert in IT. Outsourcing your IT operations to a company such as The Scarlett Group might knock your pride for a moment, but it can also free up valuable time and energy for you to spend more productively focused on your core competencies, while also allowing you to benefit from the expertise of people who are highly proficient in their own particular field.
Look to the competition for inspiration
After outsourcing, perhaps the next most touchy area for entrepreneurs is having to face the realization that their competitors may be doing certain things better than they are. In fact, depending on the specifics of the situation, your competition may be innovating in all kinds of ways that you’re missing out on.
Take a step back and take a deep breath. Firstly, the fact that your competitors are your competitors — that is, that they are your rivals and pose a threat to you — means that they aren’t completely incompetent.
Secondly, the fact that you are sincere in your commitment to your clients, and to offering a quality service, does not necessarily mean that you are also strategizing flawlessly and grasping every aspect of client expectation and need.
Be humble enough to look at your competitors with a sincere eye towards what they might be doing right, that you are either doing wrong, or are simply not yet taking into account.
Is there a particular offer they have in their stores that seems to be a big hit with the public? Could you come up with a similar offer as well? Do they include a discounted service bundle that accounts for most of their clients’ needs, while you’re selling individual services, without the discount, and thereby making things a little bit less appealing for your prospects?
Keeping an eye on your competitors for inspiration is not just a one-off exercise, it’s the kind of thing that you will need to do over and over again throughout your career. Businesses develop, industries change, and new and innovative technologies and approaches arise that fundamentally change how the game is to be played.
Take customer feedback to heart
The old saying states that “the customer is always right”. Obviously, this isn’t actually true in the sense of your customers always being objectively correct and reasonable — but it is true in the sense that your customers are your lifeline as an entrepreneur, and if something is annoying or pleasing them on a consistent basis, you would be extremely well-advised to pay attention and do whatever you can in order to adjust your business in light of revelations coming from your customer feedback.
Look for recurring patterns and trends. Do many customers complain about your customer support? If so, maybe it’s time for you to stop manning the phones yourself, and hire a virtual assistant, or even a permanent staff member, to address that issue.
If, on the other hand, your customers are really impressed by a feature in your product, or even if they just take it for granted and derive benefit from it, you would be making a grave mistake by phasing it out arbitrarily in the next iteration of your product.
Just consider the number of people who complained when Apple removed the standard headphone jack from their iPhones.
Get reliable customer feedback whenever you can, and have someone sieve through the various reviews and panels to identify key patterns that should be actioned.
Image via Pixabay