I was recently told, “You must be stupid to be an entrepreneur in this economy!” I would say, if you aren’t an intelligent entrepreneur, then yes, you would be stupid to be an entrepreneur in this economy. Succeeding in business takes smarts, both intellectual and emotional intelligence. I believe that the right entrepreneur can succeed in any type of economic times.
I follow many different business writers on their blogs. It is no secret, I love to read Seth Godin. However, I also love to read the posts of Marc Cenedella, CEO of TheLadders.com. In his most recent post he spoke about “The Intelligent Entrepreneur”, a new book out from author Bill Murphy. In the book, Murphy distills 10 rules of successful entrepreneurship from the stories of several Harvard Business School graduates.
Much of Cenedella’s post is below:
As I read through the stories, and looked at Bill’s rules, it struck me that there are similarities between the successful entrepreneur and the successful job-seeker. You’re both trying to create something new — a new company or a new position for yourself. You’re both faced with the emotional challenges that go with any new endeavor. There are plenty of setbacks along the way in starting a company and getting a job. And success is dependent on sticking to it and seeing it through.
So with that in mind, I thought I’d share five of Bill’s 10 rules with you and show how they apply to your job search.
#2 Find a problem, then solve it.
It’s not enough in the 21st century to simply describe yourself to future employers as “I’m a finance guy” or “I’m a saleswoman.” Particularly in this difficult economic environment, you need to let your future boss know what kind of problem you can solve for him or her. So be specific about what you bring to the table: “I’m a finance professional who specializes in Sarbanes-Oxley and really enjoys working with internationally headquartered companies to meet American regulatory requirements” or “I’m a sales professional who loves working with biotech start-ups as they go from pre-revenue to $10 mm in sales.”
Find a problem, and then let your future boss know how you will solve it.
#4 You can’t do it alone.
The job search can be a lonely endeavor and you can’t possibly make it alone. You’ll need the support of your family and friends, and being honest with them about the trials and tribulations you’re experiencing is an important part of your emotional well-being during the search. You’ll also need to rely on your colleagues and contacts, and have them on the lookout for you during your job search. (See my advice last week on this topic: “Ask for a reference, not a job.”)
Enlisting the aid of the people you know for support, advice, and connections is the way to your next great job.
#5 You must do it alone.
But as much as you’ll need to rely on family, friends and colleagues, it is ultimately going to depend on you. You’ll need to make the calls, you’ll need to do the follow-up, and you’ll need to be prepared for the interviews. When it’s 10:17 a.m. on Tuesday morning and you’re staring at the phone thinking about making that follow-up call, it’s up to you, and you alone, to pick up the phone and dial the digits. Nobody else can do it for you.
Understanding that you’ll need to make the commitment, set aside the appropriate amount of time, and then fight through our natural tendency to procrastination, is key to your success.
#8 Learn to sell.
Take your annual earnings and multiply by five. That’s the value of the product you are selling — the next five years of your labor. It’s the most important sales job you’re going to have, and you need to learn how to sell. You need to qualify the buyer — make sure they need an expensive product like you — and then explain to them the benefits they’ll get by purchasing — how you’ll help solve the problems they’re facing in their business.
Too often we can allow ourselves to slip into focusing on what I need out of the job hunt. You have to remember that it’s not about you, it’s about what your future employer needs. And you need to sell them on how you fulfill those needs better than any other candidate.
#9 Persist, persevere, prevail.
The job hunt is filled with twists and turns — moments of hope and days of despair. That’s normal. Even the most successful, polished, high-priced executives and professionals that we work with here at TheLadders have those weeks when the phone is not ringing, emails go unanswered, and the creeping doubts seem to loom larger.
It’s all part of the job-seeking process, and in order to be successful, you’ll need to overcome those difficulties. It is only persistence and perseverance that will see you through the bad days and the tough interviews. Anybody who has started a company, and everybody who goes through the job search, experience tough times. Stick to it, know that you are valuable, and you will make it through to success!
To learn the other five rules of successful entrepreneurship, I’d recommend you go pick up “The Intelligent Entrepreneur” today.