Photo by Patrick on Unsplash

Starting entrepreneurs often think they need to be like a Swiss army knife – able to do (almost) everything. But should they?

The art in entrepreneurship, and leadership in general, is to act from a place of great self knowledge. Know who you are. And who you are not. 

A meaningful starting point is knowing your talents and owning them. It’s important to recognise your intrinsic motivations and nurture those talents to ensure you are using your potential to the fullest.

For instance, I recently had a client who had never recognized her creativity as a talent, forget consciously using it. She realised how her work can benefit from her creativity if she’d give it more space: approaching problems from a very different angle, coming up with new ideas for projects which seem stuck etc. As a result she has much more energy doing things she loves and is coming to better results.

Once you are aware of your intrinsic motivations, you can craft your entrepreneurial journey and tweak your tasks and activities accordingly. You can take on more of what you love doing. Surely there are many things you need to learn on this entrepreneurial journey but as long as you tap on your natural gifts, you’ll learn fast and feel energized.

Spoiler alert!

Talents can be overused and work against you. If you have strong empathy you might put others first all too easily. Not seldom may you be paying a price for that by giving priority to the needs of others rather than your own needs or priorities. Or by agreeing to a lower price than you’d set because the client found the price ‘too high’. If you recognize this, learn to think twice before saying yes and to say no without saying no. This has been part of my journey – it’s a work in progress but I’ve come a long way!

Energy drainers 

Equally important is to know and accept your lower drives, the things you don’t like doing (that much). That is often liberating because at the end it’s not about what you can do, it’s about what you love to do. And most of us have things we don’t like doing. 

Of course there are ways to deal with those energy drainers.Consider if there are different ways of approaching the task (using your strengths). Or see if you can outsource them – and even if you can’t, I guarantee that being aware of your drainers will change the way you look at these activities.

Now, what if as an entrepreneur, you are naturally a risk avoider? I’ve seen many entrepreneurs with a strong vision and a low intrinsic drive for taking risks and entrepreneurship. In se, that is not a problem – as long as you are aware of it! If you know you are naturally inclined to avoid risks, you have to develop a strategy to ensure you take enough risks to get your business to take off.

It’s tempting to think of yourself as a versatile and super-talented Swiss army knife. However, knowing what features (read talents) you have and how to optimize them, is the most efficient way forward. Optimize your talents, optimize your time and ressources.