You’ve got the drive and the motivation. You’ve got the passion. You’ve got the work ethic and the energy. As an entrepreneur, you might think that you tick all the boxes for success – but have you got the personal skills that will make your business fly?
There are entrepreneurs with great ideas – but they prefer to sit behind the scenes. They’re loners who don’t feel comfortable dealing with clients or even anybody else coming near their precious baby, their new product.
Or there are self-starters who delight in developing their business plan but hate managing the people who can help them make it happen. They’re often so fired up that they speed away, leaving those who are meant to be working with them floundering in their wake.
Inspire, don’t buy
Do you recognise yourself? Do you recognise anybody that you’ve ever worked with? Either way, you’ll also remember what it meant that entrepreneurs and bosses like that have loads of skill, insight and creativity – but a big, serious deficit when it comes to people skills.
People skills are about getting those you work with to buy into your vision and to help you implement it.
You can’t simply pay people to be as enthusiastic and motivated as you are about the future of your business. Buying them doesn’t work. You need to inspire them.
Find the key
To inspire your people, you need to understand the key to what motivates them. Paying the rent, driving a good car, putting children through school and university are all good, basic motivators. But they’re only the start.
You need to dig deep and find out what inspires them to give their absolute best day after day. And the only way that you’re going to do that is by listening to them. Not telling them what should motivate them about the business, but hearing what they’re looking for and then pointing out where the business intersects with that.
Remember your ears
I love the quotation, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
I love the direct truth in it. And I love the fact that it dates right back to an ancient Greek called Epictetus about 2 000 years ago.
That heritage tells me that humanity hasn’t changed fundamentally – which makes it all the more important to keep reminding ourselves of the need to listen and respect, not dictate and demand. Even if you think you’re a good communicator, every one of us can improve.
Build in communications
It also helps to build good communications into your business as it grows. When I opened the pilot Cash Converters store nearly 25 years ago by myself, I didn’t know that it would become an organisation of more than 80 stores, employing about 1 100 people. Or that I would find myself at our national conferences, addressing a room of about 130 of our franchisees.
At first, I planned for growth and didn’t think about communication. But I learned that getting personal and taking communication in my stride is one of the prices of growth.
Looking back, I can see that communication is what has allowed us to become a professional business in an industry that’s traditionally thought of as unprofessional. Communication and emphasising the value of personal values such as integrity and respect for our colleagues and customers help differentiate us – and help us build a business culture that supports our drive and passion for growth and success.