If an entrepreneur is advised to work solely on the basis of data and statistics, then they are misguided. Think about it: The data we can collect are stats about the past, about occurrences that have already taken place, with the only possibility of identifying trends when they occur.
The true spirit of entrepreneurship is about intuition. It’s about creating and seizing opportunities, making the impossible possible. It’s about building strong relationships and networks to expand and execute on those opportunities.
Think of Elon Musk and Richard Branson. How often do people think they’re completely nuts? Yet, they’re successful because they are able to inspire and create trust in their vision.
Therefore, embrace your uniqueness. Do not let it get numbed by traditional marketing and business development tactics. Your business is a reflection of who you are. Make your business truly yours by focusing on your unique traits and characteristics, your quirkiness and, most of all, your core values.
Your values determine the quality of your relationships and, to a greater degree, your business. To be successful in the long run, entrepreneurs need to create strong values that they implement in their daily business practices. Only then will they attract partnerships with similar values, and that is what you ultimately need: People you can trust.
What are values?
Based on my experience talking to young entrepreneurs, there seems to be nothing more misunderstood than the definition of a value. So, first things first, there are concepts (words) of value, and then there is the application of values, such as characteristics, behavior and actions. Here are a few examples.
• Integrity: Do the right thing. It’s as simple as that!
• Honesty: There are times when you will need to be honest, even more so with yourself. This is not easy when you’re at the helm; however, it’s necessary in business.
• Fairness: When working with people, it is easy to sit on the fence and fall into having a passive culture. This is not always as simple as it seems, but having a fair decision-making process is essential.
• Accountability: Own your actions (and inactions, for that matter). Not taking ownership leaves a void for building trust both internally and externally.
• Diversity and inclusion: These have become “trendy buzzwords” for many; however, this is more about equal opportunity. Accepting that we are all individuals in our own right but bring value and contribute to a common vision ensures your business has more chances to make great things happen.
• Contribution: Practice what you preach. By leading by example, you will become the inspiration for many. There is no greater reward than this.
• Quality: You will always be judged by the products or the service you offer. There is no room for shortcuts here, as consumers are less forgiving than ever. Set the very highest standards of quality without compromise to become a stand-out business.
Values only come alive when we let them live through our actions. Only then do these words carry weight. It’s only when you are challenged and when things do not go to plan that your values are questioned. What you do in these critical times will play a momentous part in both your success and that of your business. Have the courage to stay true to your values even in the darkest times. You may not get it right all the time, but by trying, you are on the road to success.
Put your money where your mouth is.
As an entrepreneur, you aim to lead from the front. To be a true leader, you need to communicate and practice your values. Consideration is a value and is practiced by accepting that not every person is performing at their best all the time. We are all humans with ups and downs, high and low energy on different days and in need of human interaction.
When I listen to my intuition in all situations in life, I can empathize. From there, the realization sets in that this world is connected. There is no solitude in business; we can thrive only as a team. This mindset supports ethical behavior, which is needed for sustainable business development.
Hard work beats talent.
Talent only takes you so far, but hard work and dedication are values that drive you further. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but a smart person is the one who applies it.
It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make at the start, as long as you focus on improving your processes. The smarter your processes become, the more your business scales. Data is good for optimizing those processes but not for defining your ultimate goals.
Work hard to catapult yourself to another level. Don’t hesitate to give yourself a voice. It is the unknown that is the most exciting part of your entrepreneurial journey.