Thursday, March 17, 2016

Are You Too Smart to Become A Successful Entrepreneur?

One of the most counterintuitive traits that can hurt entrepreneurs is "smarts". The more successful you are; the more talent you have, the harder it is to run a business. While you might think being smart, motivated and talented would logically make the best possible candidate for entrepreneurship, unfortunately this is often not the case.

Think about it, the smart people challenge starts back in school when the dreaded group projects are first assigned. Remember the 80/20 rule – 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people? Well, what do you think happens in every group project in school? The smartest and most talented people in each group decide they are going to do the lion share of the work.

They don’t want to risk their grade in a class by dividing the work equally and hoping that Timmy, the guy who is absent from class two days a week and on average sleeps through class on the other three days, does his part - if he remembers to do it at all. In school there isn’t any benefit in trying to get Timmy up to speed quickly. Forget that! The smart people just take over and do the whole project themselves. And thus, begins the smart people work cycle.

The smartest people do just about everything better than anyone else – they write better, they plan better and read better. They are better until it comes to running a business. Then, they are not better. They’re screwed.

There are only 24 hours in each day and a person needs to eat, sleep, shower and do certain other things. The smart person tries to do everything himself because he can’t stand someone else doing a job badly. Then he’s stuck with the one-man-band job business and ends up not being able to grow. Let's face it, you can’t do everything yourself. You need help; I don’t care how smart you are.

Why slackers can reign supreme as entrepreneurs
Some of the slackers are better suited for entrepreneurship than the smart people. Why? They figured out early on to surround themselves with smart people who would do the work. They know how to delegate and sometimes how to manipulate other people to doing things that they don’t want to do. You are only as smart as what you can automate. Ideally, smart people would just be able to convey their talents to others, but since the smart people are so used to doing everything themselves, they don’t learn the key skills for making their business successful, including automating and delegating as many tasks as possible. As a smart person, you need to use your smarts and talents to boil down to essence an easy to follow format that anyone can replicate. You need to be able to duplicate yourself.

Are you too smart for your own good?
Smart, intelligent people also often have a flare for the unusual, the complicated. They make it so complicated that a person they get involved in the business and try to train, those people look at the business and go,"OMG, I could never do that!" When you are really smart, you want to come across as smart, you want to seem really complicated, you want people to think you are smart – well that’s dumb! They don’t like to follow the K.I.S.S. system – Keep It Simple Stupid - which is required to make a business succeed.

If you think of the assembly line in a fantastic manufacturing plant or the global presence of McDonalds or Starbucks - They both seem complex. In reality, they are a series of incredibly simple functions. Every single task is broken down into easy to follow steps. The assembly line worker repeatedly performs a few tasks that are specifically defined and so does a McDonalds cook, cashier and drive-through order taker. There is little input from these individuals because everything has already been standardized and automated for them.

Some of the largest, most successful businesses in the world aren’t staffed in majority by the smartest people. They are actually staffed in large part by regular, average people. These successful entities have just a few people who are smart enough to standardize, automate and delegate the majority of tasks in a way that can’t get screwed up by their average employees. The more complex anything is, the fewer the people who can do it. People avoid the complex. That is why you want to make things simple, so people feel like they can do them. So, being smart or talented isn’t going to help you unless you can use those smarts to figure out a way to simplify those tasks that will make a business successful.

Now, this isn’t easy because this goes against everything you’ve ever done. It’s counter to how you’ve been taught to think, however, it is necessary for a business to succeed and it is why smarts and talent alone don’t predict entrepreneurial success.

Too much to lose
Another issue with smart people starting a business is that they have the most to lose. The smarter you are, the more worried people are about what other people think of them – they are afraid to make mistakes, they are afraid to do anything, they don’t want to look silly. When you start a business, you have a lot more to risk than someone who makes less money and who has fewer career options. This is often referred to as the “Golden Handcuffs” dilemma because you have more to risk.

It helps to be smart, don’t get me wrong; I just think there are also a lot of limitations for really smart people. So, don’t be surprised when the person most likely to succeed from high school ends up in corporate America while one of the more average students finds success in his or her own business.

I'm so excited to share this information with you. If you have enjoyed the information or feel that it would benefit someone else, please share it. If you have any comments, please post them below, otherwise, feel free to contact me.
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