What does it take to thrive as an entrepreneur? Motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur Stuart Knight, president of Stuart Knight Productions Inc., has spoken to thousands of business-owners over his 20-year career. It’s taught him a thing or two about what really makes an entrepreneur successful.
In this week’s BusinessCast podcast, Knight, whose most recent book is You Should Have Asked: The Art of Powerful Conversation, reveals three of the traits that separate the entrepreneurial winners from the losers:
1. People skills
You may think you can do well by sinking more money in the business, or by working longer hours, or by simply wanting it more. And while those strategies can work, Knight believes too many entrepreneurs prioritize them at the expense of one crucial factor: people skills, especially when it comes to dealing with clients. “If you make people feel positive things, you connect with them on a human level,” he explains. “Too many entrepreneurs think it’s enough just to connect with them on a business level.”
If, after meeting with you, a potential or existing client walks away with nothing else but information on your product or service, there’s nothing to stop them from choosing a competitor who offers a similar product or service, Knight says. “Your distinguishing factor is always going to come down to the relationship you can create with that individual,” he explains. “If that person likes you, they’re going to do more business with you than with your competitor they don’t like as much. People always buy from people they like, respect, admire and value.”
Over the years, Knight has encountered many entrepreneurs who are afraid to put real stakes on the table—by, perhaps, taking out a big loan, or leasing office space. Such timidity has no place in running a business, he says. “The people who are most successful are the people who are willing to do what it takes to get there,” he explains. “You have to be willing to have the guts to put in the time, to take the risks and to really believe in what it is that you want to really put out there.”
Time is an invaluable commodity for entrepreneurs, Knight believes; and too many squander it. Success requires discipline, especially when it comes down to focusing on what really needs to be done. “Stop being a slave to technology,” Knight says. “Stop thinking you need to check your email or text messages 500 times a day. Set a time in the morning you’ll check your email, then leave it. Same in the afternoon. And stick to it. Otherwise what you’re doing is wasting your time.”
For more of Knight’s thoughts, check out this week’s BusinessCast, which you can listen to by clicking the button above or download by clicking on the iTunes logo below:
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