[Free Book Preview #14] 3- STEP 3: Strengths and Assets You Bring to a Business.

Hey there, Freedom Seeker!

Welcome to the exhilarating big sky of small business entrepreneurship!

I wrote a book for you. This book reveals the Unbiased Small Business Research Formula developed from decades in the trenches of American Main Street and online business as a small business entrepreneur and a coach. Its objective is to help you become the successful creator of the new life you envision by objectively guiding you in researching and choosing the right business.

In the next weeks, I’ll share free sections of the book with you before it’s released for publication and available for purchase.

In the last two book sections, I shared steps 1, discovering your purpose, and 2, envisioning your ideal LIFE+. Now we move on to the third step of internal research: assessing your strengths.

With a clear vision of your ideal life, your next step is to position yourself to optimize the assets you bring to the table. You’ll begin by taking inventory of your advantages, assets, and strengths as your business’s future owner and leader. You’ll also want to acknowledge your blindspots and determine a course of action to correct or outsource them. In the most perfect of worlds, the business you pick capitalizes on all of your strengths. In reality, if you wait for perfection, you’ll never encounter that idealistic business and never take action. 

Career Capital

To have a competitive advantage, you might leverage all or most of your career capital with a business that can benefit from what you know, excel at doing, and enjoy. Then your career capital is easy to tally up, but you still need to identify areas you might delegate or outsource when running a business. You can’t do everything in a business if you wish to succeed. 

Suppose you love the career you have spent years developing and wish to create a business to share what inspires you with the world. You may have a monetizable talent and seek another source of income in addition to your job. Or you are ready for greater freedom of decision with your own business. In that case, congratulations, you are among the luckiest! Your next step is to identify a problem to solve and solve it for the world, which we discuss in Chapter 9.

On the other hand, you may be a generalist or a jack of all trades because you haven’t identified the ideal career vehicle for you. No worries here! Business ownership is possibly the breakthrough you have been waiting for!

In all cases, whether you have an expertise that still ignites your fire, or you have no intention of leveraging the field of expert knowledge you’ve spent years accumulating, or you have a diversity of experiences and are unsure of what you bring to the table, then light up your “Sherlock Holmes pipe” and let’s investigate! 

We begin with an inventory of what you know, what you’ve experienced, and what you like and dislike to self-discover your career capital as it applies or does not apply to business ownership. Then we divide the various skills useful to business ownership into three categories: hard skills, soft skills, and industry knowledge. 

First, let’s begin brainstorming.  In chronological order, list all the jobs and responsibilities you have held. Keep in mind the knowledge useful to running a business might have been acquired outside your professional experience. For instance, in addition to the skills acquired at work:

Maybe your experiences include:

  • Being a volunteer exposed you to different sectors of industry and activities useful to a future business.

  • Helping raise funds for schools, political events, and charities.

  • Honing your leadership skills by informally leading groups, youth programs, or tutoring your siblings when you were a kid.

  • Homeschooling and tutoring children.

  • Being a stay-at-home parent responsible for your household, effectively multitasking in project management, event coordination, mentoring, bookkeeping, budgeting, leadership, etc.

  • Participating in various clubs and organizations, such as a debate team or Toastmasters, where you honed your public speaking and communication skills.

  • Having a deep knowledge of specific sectors of industry or niches from hobbies or side projects.

  • Speaking other languages or being familiar with the cultures of certain countries.

All are notable. The most interesting are the skills where you don’t just excel but those that you genuinely enjoy. These are clues to highlight on your entrepreneurial résumé as you seek to align yourself with the right business or business idea. 

Example of knowledge acquired outside of a job or business. 

I acquired enriching experiences when I took a two-year sabbatical between businesses. Volunteering for several organizations allowed me to explore several sectors. I worked for a network of angel investors, where I was exposed to fascinating pitches from innovative entrepreneurs. I helped a local non-profit sponsor public policies to raise awareness and build infrastructure for electric vehicles. I mentored owners of small companies pro-bono, where I realized that many owners should have exercised better research, vetting, and planning before starting or buying their companies. This led me to launch OPEN FOR BUSINESS LAB to support aspiring owners in building a strong and profitable foundation and speeding up their entrepreneurial success. 

Let’s unpack the knowledge you have accumulated from all your work and life experiences which represents your career capital. As with any job, your career capital plays a crucial role in your success as a small business owner.  Use the table below, which you can also find in your workbook,  to inventory your career capital gained through jobs and various life experiences.

Leveraging your strengths, or not.

Ideally, you might align some but not necessarily all of your strengths with a business. For instance, you might have decades of experience as a lawyer but decide you’ve had enough stress and confrontation and abandon your expertise by starting a business that has nothing to do with your soon-to-be former career. Yet, many of your soft skills as a lawyer are highly transferable to business ownership. 

You might have been a stay-at-home parent for the past years. Now that your youngest is entering kindergarten, primary school, high school, or college, you are considering starting a small business to retain your freedom and flexibility and begin a new chapter as an entrepreneur. Many of the talents you have honed as a stay-at-home parent are transferrable to business ownership.

You could be an immigrant to a new country, like I was, and choose a business where some of your alleged shortcomings, i.e. having a strong accent and another cultural background, become unfair advantages because of the inimitable authenticity they bring to the business you picked. 

As you research which type of business to start, self-awareness of both the strengths AND weaknesses you bring to the table as the future leader of your business will prepare you to succeed. Actually, some weaknesses might be leveraged as strengths depending on the type of business you choose. 

Any weaknesses can also be a benefit if you have the foresight to delegate to others who are experts. Choose a business where you can focus on your genius zone rather than trying to wing everything by trial and error.  Outsourcing to other experts in their field often creates the winning combination of a highly effective team.  

Let’s dive into your career capital by identifying two types of skills that are useful to business ownership: hard and soft skills. 

1- Hard skills: Hard skills are specific, teachable capabilities that can be measured. Eventually, these can be, and often should be outsourced or delegated.

Here are essential hard and soft skills that can be transferable to business ownership. Take the time to identify which are most like you and which are least like you, and which will be learned, coached, or outsourced.

Your hard skills give you a competitive advantage in your chosen business. They can be helpful in three ways:

1- Technical skills to provide a solution to customers.

2- Business knowledge to operate a business.

3- Industry knowledge to identify a problem to solve and create a solution.

Decide what skills you can leverage and which can or should be learned, coached, or outsourced. Make a list of your skills and degrees of competency. Which one are you going to outsource or delegate? As much as possible, plan on outsourcing the hard skills you don’t have while you focus on expanding your soft skills. 

  • Technical skills: The risk for a business owner who wants to scale a business for greater freedom is of remaining forever stuck as a service provider and revenue producer. For example, you might be a licensed cosmetologist, a mechanic, a contractor, a physician, an attorney, an accountant, a yoga teacher, a golfer, a painter, a chef, etc. If you are starting a business to have greater freedom, use your hard skills to identify an idea for a business. Then hire, train, and manage others to gain the technical skills that pertain to the services your business offers. If your business knowledge is the product you offer, your challenge will be to not depend on your hourly input. 

Erik is an accountant with 26 years of seniority practicing his craft. As a CPA, he is intimately aware of the problems that accountants face. Tired of the seasonability of his practice and of the challenges of getting paid, Erik created a new business system based on a subscription model: The Accountant Success Formula. After proving the viability of his idea, Erik then set out to teach his framework to other accountants so that they could increase efficiency and scale their practice without adding hours to their already heavy workload. As a result, Erik and his clients no longer depend on their individual contributions to generate revenues as CPAs. They have a business that is scalable and gives them the freedom, flexibility, and ability to build a business they can sell someday.

  • Business skills: What other hard skills do you have that can be transferable to starting and operating a business, for example, bookkeeping, marketing, human resources, computer skills, social media, presenting, etc.? They are essential for any business type. The key is to be aware of your expertise as well as your limitations. Remember that as a business owner, your time is a finite resource. Decide when to buy other people’s time and expertise to have better results in growing and scaling your business. 

  • Industry Knowledge: Whether it is from your professional career, from a hobby, or a side-project, you are likely to have in-depth knowledge in a sector of industry. This means that you are aware of problems, inconveniences, or just annoyances pertaining to that sector. Always a good clue to start a viable business is to identify what doesn’t work and to find a solution. Familiarity with the specific industry you’re operating in, its trends, regulations, and best practices, helps you make informed decisions and stay competitive, but also it helps you identify problems its stakeholders (peers, customers, or vendors) are facing. Problems lead to potential solutions, which can lead to business ideas.

2- Soft Skills Needed in Business Ownership

With business ownership, it doesn’t matter where you are in your life and career journey or your age. You might be a new graduate, an immigrant, a stay-at-home parent, a new retiree, a seasoned executive who has spent most of their career in corporate, a professor, or a researcher, all with diverse backgrounds. If you are in the early years of your professional life, you have the advantage of time ahead of you to recover from mistakes. If you have a few decades of experience, you benefit from lifelong and career knowledge. With the Right Business Right Life formula (RBRL), recognize your competitive advantage to align it with the right business for your new chapter. 

Soft skills are intangible and relate to your personality, attitude, communication, and leadership style. These are not easily delegated as they are essential to the success of any small business leader. They represent opportunities for growth that are achieved faster with coaches, courses, or masterminds that specialize in these specific soft skills. 

Your soft skills are central to the successful leadership of any small business matter the business type. They are often acquired and honed over time. 

Self-awareness: Key to Successful Leadership:

There are five key roles in a business. With most new businesses, the owner initially assumes most, if not all, of these roles. A fair assessment of where you shine and where you don’t will help position yourself to succeed with the right business, as discussed in the career capital section.

Suppose your goal is to own a business and not be owned by it. Your time is finite, and you should eventually delegate all but the leadership of the business so that you can focus on growing the business and building equity.

Leadership is the role you will always have as the owner of your business; self-awareness of your leadership strengths and blindspots will make you a better leader and help you pick the business where you will shine. Self-awareness is vital to your successful leadership as a business owner, not just to run a business but to determine the type of business that will most align with you and your strengths as a leader. 

When he was 21 years old, Steve Jobs founded Apple Corporation at 25. His net worth was already $100 million. So no doubt that he is recognized worldwide as an exceptional entrepreneur who has made an enormous impact on the world. You might not know that Steve Jobs, who had been fired from Apple at some point, went off and started two companies. And when one of these companies was bought out by Apple, Steve Jobs returned to Apple as a CEO. This was when he recognized that if he had been more self-aware and had looked at his leadership capability, he would have been able to understand where he needed development as a leader. He’s quoted as saying that he left Apple as a manager and returned as a leader.

Why does self-awareness matter? 

Self-awareness is the number one predictor of success in life. As a business owner, self-awareness is key to our success. We need to be aware, number one, of our strengths but also our weaknesses so that we can decide which is worth our time in improving and which is better outsourced. 

Other Roles: Defining the WHAT and WHO.

The goal here is to help you decide not just WHAT responsibility you will focus your efforts on because it is within your genius zone; you enjoy and excel at it. The “WHO” are the roles you will outsource. To have greater freedom and flexibility in your life, you need to delegate and outsource the activities that are not your expertise and those that cost you time. Growth and scaling necessitate concentrating on tasks that optimize your time and delegating or outsourcing the others.

Revenue providers are the technicians who supply their expertise to create the product the business offers or sales staff who advise and facilitate the transaction when the customers purchase the product. In many small businesses, the owner might be a revenue provider. Some business models, like e-commerce and vending machines, do not require technicians or sales staff to generate income. The transactions are automated, and the product is made by a third party.

Note that in business models with apps and digital products, the purchase is automated via the Internet, but the initial product had to be created by experts.

The Support staff keeps everything running smoothly and everyone, especially the owner, organized. They might be concierges, hosts, assistants, and sometimes virtual assistants. Larger companies might have a human resource expert or department to support the organization. 

Managers oversee teams and the day-to-day operations through the systems and standard operating procedures that are in place. Again owners might be the only managers until the business scales, and they manage the managers.

The outside experts lend their specialized professional knowledge to accelerate the business’s progress. They might be accountants, attorneys, bookkeepers, business coaches,  financial consultants, marketing experts, payroll experts, etc.

As you can see,  successful entrepreneurs prioritize efficiency. The question is always, how can I achieve my goals most effectively? What will reduce risk and optimize the results? As you research your perfect-fit business idea, let’s discuss your possible paths to business ownership. In the following section, we evaluate the pros and cons of each path to owning a business. 


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