Your Entrepreneurial GPA
Topic: Entrepreneur Evangelist | Comments (2)
If you are a freelancer with a specialized skill set who wants a comfortable income and a flexible schedule, then your plans are going to look different than if you are a family building a long-term business that you can pass on to your kids, or if you are a tech innovator looking to create massive market disruption and a big-bang exit strategy.
There is a great series on VentureHacks, guest written by Venture Capitalist Mark Suster, on the ten qualities he looks for in an entrepreneur before he writes a check. (It’s a three part series: see part 1, part 2 and part 3.) Obviously, his list is clearly geared towards the high-impact, disruptive market-type venture.
- Street Smarts
- Ability to Pivot
- Appetite for risk
- Detail Orientation
But in reality, when you look at the ten qualities he has identified, they are also applicable to lifestyle businesses and freelancers as well — even if some of the scale or mechanics might look a little different.
Part of what I like about this list, though, is that it gives me a great list to start when building out a plan for my business, the type of goals that I want to achieve, and the type of partnerships I need to build in order to make it happen — because, like it or not, I do not score a perfect 10 on each of these qualities.
As an exercise, consider this list. Now, imagine the business you want to build. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), what level of strength in each category do you believe is necessary to achieve your business goals. Then, in another column, how would you rate your personal strengths in each of these categories. (Even better: if you have a partner or someone who knows your really well, have them grade you, too.) So your grid would end up looking something like this:
Now look at the two columns side-by-side and examine the deltas. What are you going to do about them?
- Are these gaps that can be closed by bringing on the right partners?
- Are these gaps something that you can close by some behavior modification and discipline?
- Are these gaps an indication that you need to re-examine your business goals?
- Are these gaps likely to entirely derail your plans, or merely impede them?
I think this list is extremely helpful, because nothing in business is black-and-white. Everything is some shade of gray, and the best way for you to build a business that makes you feel successful (based on whatever your personal definition of success happens to be), you need a good map. A list like this provides a great place to start.
Alora Chistiakoff is an entrepreneur, blogger, content strategist and project manager who has been developing online business and technology for startups for more than a decade. She co-owns The Indigo Heron Group, Inc., a content strategy firm in Austin, Texas.