From Gen X to Gen Y: What Has Experience Shown Me?
Recently, I was asked by an emerging Gen Y entrepreneur if I would be willing to share my thoughts on some burning questions she had for me. She figured my answers would be beneficial to her as she continues to rise and beat each challenge she faces with unyielding success. I welcomed the opportunity to share, especially since the questions were so good. And one thing I pride myself in doing whenever someone is open to my honest, objective feedback is delivering universal truths that will help them succeed. No matter how dry and bitter the bare truth may be, I do not believe in “sugar coating” anything.
What’s the point in anyone asking me a question if they simply want the rosy myths about the world we live in?
I loved helping this young lady by offering answers I know will help her better navigate her entrepreneurial journey. However, I also figured this was an opportunity for me to blog again. With my busy schedule, I sometimes find it difficult to write blog posts. But our email dialogue turned into something that was definitely meant to be shared. Via my personal brand, Daymond & Co., I have become committed to inspire others. Throughout my daily impressions in this life, there are things that sometimes pop up, and fit perfectly in my efforts to wield “#DeliberateSuccess”. So here goes. I’m going to type the questions that were asked to me in the subsequent paragraphs. I’ll also provide my answers below each of those questions. Hopefully, something will resonate with you if you are an emerging or aspiring entrepreneur as well. And I hope something pops out at you that helps you see the world much clearer as you too strive to achieve!
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges you observe regarding professionalism and presence when it comes to working with entrepreneurs?
I see MANY different struggles that entrepreneurs have with professionalism and otherwise . . .
- The Lack of Research & Mismatch of Skillset with Entrepreneurial Desire
Many people attempt to become entrepreneurs without knowing the fundamental needs to get their businesses up and running. Many know someone who is doing something entrepreneurial, so they want to try it out as well--as if it is an experiment. However, it's my belief you must first search inside yourself to figure out what you like and what your strengths are. Then, you should tailor your entrepreneurial ventures to fit that. You should never base your business on what you see someone else do or what someone else wants for you. When people are not comfortable in the entrepreneurial roles they have chosen to take on, all of their business interfaces (i.e., the people they meet for business purposes) can feel or see that something isn't right. Additionally, things often do not go well for this type of entrepreneur. Success is always a challenge for him or her.
- Image & Soft Skills
Many new entrepreneurs struggle with exuding a professional image in business meetings. I believe that entrepreneurs should always seek to exude finesse in all business meetings, especially their initial meetings with clients and customers. Cordial greetings should always occur in the first meeting, and there should always be ice breakers. Even though people do not realize it, someone is always getting vetted in the initial meeting. Either both parties (Entrepreneur vs. Client/Customer) are vetting each other. Or one party is vetting the other to determine if business is going to happen. Before these meetings occur, both parties should come prepared. The cordial thing to do is research the party you are meeting, and then come prepared to ask cordial questions about (1) how business is going, (2) how the family or kids are doing, or (3) anything else that shows you are genuinely interested in the meeting at hand. Then, move into the details of the potential business relationship.
As far as image is concerned, I have had some informal business conversations with some entrepreneurs who believe they want to be the CEO of their businesses. However, they did not exude any CEO qualities. Even though this meeting may have been informal, the fact remains business was discussed. Their language was off-putting in our meeting, and when I researched their social media links, their image online was incongruent with who they desired to be as the CEO of their company. Effective leaders illustrate their effectiveness. Their branding is always evident, and their language typically changes when they discuss business because they are conscious and deliberate. They want to ensure their business name and reputation remains intact at all times.
- Poor Communication
Many new entrepreneurs sometimes struggle with communication. I've held conversations with people who have revealed a lack of business acumen, by not communicating well regarding their business goals. Sometimes, they could not even describe what their project needs were. I've held conversations with entrepreneurs who have only sought to obtain some of my business know-how while offering nothing in return. I've had ideas pitched to me with no business presentation, outline, or experience doing anything to build their reputation. For that reason, my desire to work with some of these people fleeted. Additionally, I've even set up meetings for entrepreneurs with potential clients, and I've witnessed them choke first-hand. They did not communicate to me that they really were not ready to engage in the new business opportunity with the new high-potential client.
In essence, many entrepreneurs let their "I know it all" attitude keep them from acknowledging ineffective communication skills that hinder their progress and success.
- Unnecessary Competition & Lack of Creativity
Most entrepreneurs I know, especially newer ones, think they are in competition with everyone. This is simply not the case. True, capitalism tends to spawn competition among us all. But our freedom gives us the right to be creative, and thus carve out unique paths in our entrepreneurial ventures. Many entrepreneurs get caught up in competition so much they don't look inside themselves to offer a unique set of skills to the world. All it takes is a little creativity. For some reason, because some entrepreneurs fear collaboration, communicate ineffectively, and have an "I know it all" attitude, they subsequently block their creative juices. These are the same creative juices that could make them completely unique in the market place.
When you first started out in the entrepreneurial world, what challenges did you have (if any) when interacting with others (clients, partners, colleagues, etc.)?
The struggle I had in the beginning was throwing myself 100% into networking without figuring out beforehand what networks complemented my entrepreneurial goals.
When I initially settled in Dallas, I networked and then offered services to others for free as a means to put my name out there in the Dallas community. In essence, I did two things wrong: (1) I networked incorrectly, and (2) I provided free services to the wrong networks. Hindsight is 20/20. I should have set up my business infrastructure first before networking. I realize now my way of trying to network and settle into the Dallas region was spawned from insecurity. I wanted to network and partner with people who would give me the opportunity to show them what I could do. I should have given myself permission to pitch what I thought I could do with confidence, instead of being the push-over I once was. I learned the hard way that when you don't exude confidence in your business meetings, then some clients, partners, and colleagues attack. Thus, it is better to walk into meetings putting everyone on a baseline, neither good or bad; then you should aptly react, with poised business acumen, professionalism, and rationale, based on what the client, partner, or colleague offers in the business meeting.
Are there any other etiquette related challenges you can share from your perspective?
Yes. I think I covered it when I answered the first question; but again, it is very important for me to express my thoughts on this. It's important to me as Gen X-er, and I assume anyone else (including Gen Ys and millennials) who have become very seasoned in their entrepreneurial ventures.
At some point, every entrepreneur has expectations for a certain level of etiquette exhibited in their business dealings.
Great entrepreneurs and great business people simply have great soft skills, for the most part. You feel it when you're in meetings with them. They set the tone and pace of the meetings based on how the meetings roll out. And when you meet a great person to work with, you can actually "feel" them working in tandem with you--mentally, verbally, sometimes spiritually, to get something great done. However, to get to that point, the initial meeting must go very well. I suggest people do research about the business, client, partner, colleague, etc. prior to having an initial business meeting. During the initial meeting, actually create a dialogue to make the opposite party feel welcome and appreciated. Then, based on the business proceedings and knowledge gathered about the opposite party, solidify the business arrangement. This process makes for better business relationships among entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs and clients/partners/colleagues/etc., who could do phenomenal work together!