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Kartik Johari

Kartik Johari is Vice President of Marketing and Commerce for Nobel Hygiene, one of the leading disposable hygiene care products manufacturer in India

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The Necessary Skills and Ingredients to Make an Entrepreneur

Top four skills: keen listening, developing healthy living, self discipline and effective salesmanship

The current environment that we live in, is comfortably oppressed, polluted and compressed. The call to entrepreneurship often stems from a longing within people; whether that is to be one’s own boss, to create something which is one’s own or to simply leave behind the tyranny of the rat race, the reasons are as varied as the inferences.

However, no field exists wherein people all of types, given an equal playing field, will be equally successful. There are certain traits which increase one’s yield in a chose field, and entrepreneurship is no different. However, irrespective of innate talents, there are few skills that all successful entrepreneurs possess. I will list below, my personal top four. We could get into a longer list, but too much literature exists about the same already. If you can act upon these four however, you will be better off than the next ten people in line.

Note: Some may not agree that the following four are skills, but rather innate abilities. I will beg to disagree. All of the below skills can be improved upon, by consistent effort, introspection and focus. Perhaps, having a malleable mindset is the entry gate towards the rest of these skills

1. Listening: Listening is the most primary of all skills. It is the foundation upon which all your actions and interactions are built. To be a good listener, requires empathy, patience, brevity, and an innate curiosity about your surroundings. A good listener is forced to be patient, as you cannot jump into propounding your opinion without listening to others. You will always be ready for feedback, thus consequently, will keep expanding your mental horizon. You will always learn more about the world, thus will naturally spot internal and external trends. You will also become more human, and will develop empathy for all your stakeholders, i.e: customers, employees or partners.

Being a good listener will also force you to constantly judge ideas, statements, motives and processes. You will learn to recognize flags and markers in common stimuli. All of this, will enable you to incorporate tens or hundreds of factors into decision making, ensuring a holistic and comprehensive outlook on matters.

For most people, this singular tip may seem to be the most insulting or preachy; but listening well is akin to using wings to fly in a 100 meter footrace. You will know you have reached this stage, when you realize how transparent most people are with their motivations and words! Authenticity will then become your guiding principle.

2. Health-Orientation: As every successful individual will tell you, the old adage still holds true, “Health = Wealth”. This is beyond, “If you are unhealthy, then you can’t enjoy your spoils”. Multiple studies have shown the correlation between a healthy body and improved performance across various metrics. Even our brain truly starts to perform well, when the body is getting exercised regularly.

As, as most things in life, being healthy is a by-product of various activities and needs to be developed. One cannot simply ignore/defer this point, to take care of when, for example, funding has been raised, or an IPO has been successful, or when your management team is all set. Being healthy should start yesterday, and it requires to be a consistent part of your schedule. That, conveniently, brings us to the next point.

3. Discipline: The most common of all advice given to entrepreneurs. Discipline however needs to be cultivated. No one is born disciplined. Discipline also gives birth to the single most defining characteristic of successful entrepreneurs: Grit. Grit, simply put, is endurance. It is the ability to push beyond the limits of what is expected, the ability to persevere through hardships and break through where people rarely can. As it is colloquially said, “Do not woo motivation, for it is a fleeting emotion. Instead, develop discipline, for one must not be [an incessant grumbler]”.

Discipline in yourself will ensure very high standards in all tasks that you perform. Also, being an entrepreneur is a hands-on exercise. You will not get very far if you expect all activities to be awesome and fun. Even more simply, in today’s hyper competitive environment, everyone is ready to burn themselves out. Burnout occurs when you push yourself into something knowing you won’t enjoy it but it’s got to be done. However, discipline takes the joy out of the equation. Your actions do not depend upon your mindset, your meeting schedule or your environment. By disassociating yourself from the immediate joy of work, instead focus on the apparent rewards in the future. Isn’t that the very foundation of being an entrepreneur? Grit now, reward later?

Working in the trenches is what buys you confidence; it stems from knowing that you can handle any and all tasks if required to. Thus, you expect a high standard from everyone else. Also, disciplined individuals innately understand compounding returns. Consistent actions, if in the right direction, always bring about greater reward. Perhaps it’s hard to understand, but if you work with discipline, your baseline will be far above others.

4. Selling: All entrepreneurs need to be good at selling. And leave aside the notion that one needs to sell their product, thus this is obvious. As the famous Robert Kiyosaki story goes, and I paraphrase here, “Every conversation, argument, interaction and action, is an act of selling”.

If you listen well, you will understand how unreceptive people can be to different ideas. Tie this to how innately hard it is to change. It is the same in business and not everyone can do it. Thus with every conversation, you will need to sell your viewpoint. You will need to convince your board, your team, your family, your spouse, yourself and your customers. Your words will be misconstrued and ignored; your actions will be belittled and pruned, if you happen to leave an opportunity for doubt and in-authenticity. Please realize that selling should become a part of your identity. If you need to leave a mark on the world, enough people need to believe that you deserve a chance to be heard in the first place.

Finally, as a bonus point, learn to speed read. Read a lot, and regularly. Study the difference between light reading (such as this article) and deep reading. Do both. I sincerely hope that my words have managed to penetrate the haze of white-noise around all our stimuli.

Being an entrepreneur can be a deeply enriching and rewarding experience irrespective of whether you succeed or not. The best is to try and always remember it is never too late to develop such keystone habits. Best of luck!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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