It Doesn't Matter How Smart You Are: These 17 Personal Shortcomings Will Ruin Your Business If You Let Them
A Note From The Editor
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It might make logical sense that the smartest entrepreneurs are naturally the most successful. It might make sense, but it's not true. Over the past 25+ years of being entrepreneurs and meeting hundreds of successful business owners, my brother Matthew and I have made a study of what it takes to be successful in the entrepreneurial world. We've concluded that many traits are necessary, and none of them are dependent on a high IQ.
Of course, becoming a successful entrepreneur does require a certain amount of intelligence, and there are some bonified genius entrepreneurs that have changed the world (think Bill Gates and Elon Musk). Being smart isn't a bad thing by any means, but smarts don't typically make the biggest difference between success and failure. There are plenty of unsuccessful geniuses out there, and there are a whole lot of highly successful business owners with average levels of intelligence.
Here are 17 faults and behaviors that will cause even the smartest would-be entrepreneur to fail in business.
1. Absence of motivation
Being smart and talented is a good start, but if a person doesn't have the motivation required to use their talent, it becomes irrelevant. If you're lying in bed all day, you could be thinking up solutions to quantum physics problems, but you'll get nowhere.
2. Inability to control impulses
Losing control of impulses can hinder overall performance. People who lack control of their impulses tend to go with the first solution that comes to mind -- especially if they're over-confident about their intelligence. Even the smartest people can be impulsive, and impulsive decisions are often not long-term winners.
3. Lack of perseverance
A huge mistake we see over and over again is entrepreneurs who give up too soon. Intelligent people might have great ideas, but if they don't push through obstacles, they'll fail.
4. Having the wrong skills
Often, people have strong skills -- they just aren't right for the task at hand. Just because someone's able to win at Trivial Pursuit doesn't mean they're suited to manage people or run a business.
5. Failure to put thoughts into actions
Some people -- especially really smart people -- get lost in thoughts. Their ideas are good ones, but they fail to translate them into action. Without action, smart ideas are just daydreams.
6. Lack of direction or focus
A big mistake entrepreneurs often make is being more concerned about short-term gains than the end result. The project you just completed might be brilliant, but if it doesn't contribute to the overall goal of your organization, it wasn't a smart thing to spend your time on.
7. Failure to take the next step
Some people find it difficult to bring projects to a close. This is generally an indication of fear of the next step -- a fear of moving on before it's time. People who are perfectionists (often very smart people) struggle with this issue. It's hard for them to progress to the next phase of business until everything is perfect. Unfortunately, perfection almost never comes.
8. Failure to launch
While some people fail to bring tasks to a close, others fail to initiate a plan of any sort. This is often due to a fear of commitment. Regardless of your IQ, you won't get far without moving forward.
9. Failure anxiety
Some people will never perform to their full ability due to a fear of failing. This type of failure anxiety can cause people to avoid some of the most important challenges in their life. Getting past this fear is less about smarts and more about working on your emotional intelligence.
It's common for people who don't deal with pressure very well to turn to procrastinating in order to put off the bigger challenges that a project may present. To be successful, an entrepreneur must find a way to break the procrastination habit.
11. Wrongly appointing blame
When a setback occurs, it's important to look at it objectively and ask yourself what you could have done better. Blaming others or outside circumstances can lead to a feeling of a lack of control over your life, and it robs you of the opportunity to improve.
12. Feeling sorry for one's self
Some people turn to self-pity rather than concentrating on solutions to problems that arise. This is another of those human emotions that doesn't have anything to do with raw intelligence. Moving past the "woe-is-me" attitude is a must for success.
13. Dwelling on personal problems
Many people allow problems in their personal life to interfere with their professional life. There will always be ups and downs in life, and keeping things in proper perspective can be difficult for some people. Having the ability to focus on the task at hand without being sucked into personal issues take emotional intelligence, not book smarts.
14. Being easily distracted
Even the most intelligent and focused people find it difficult to concentrate at times, but for those who are easily pulled in different directions, no amount of smarts is going to help. It's a matter of being disciplined enough to stick with your plan and drive toward your big vision!
15. Spreading yourself too thin
Taking on too many projects at once can lead to none of the projects being finished on time -- or at all. Managing your workload well and getting help when needed can mean the difference between success and failure. Some people are too smart to realize they need help.
16. A need for instant gratification
Rather than taking on big tasks that result in big, long-term rewards, some people only thrive on being rewarded right now. This lack of forethought and long-term planning can lead to real trouble down the road. Regardless of your IQ, if you aren't thinking long-term, you're on the road to failure.
17. Not enough or too much faith in one's self
A lack of confidence can have a seriously negative effect on a person's ability to attain goals, regardless of how smart they are. On the other hand, having too much confidence can get in the way of knowing when improvements need to be made. Confidence without arrogance is the best balance.
Want to know the good news about the list above? None of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur is exclusive to those with high intelligence. It can all be learned as long as you have the will to learn and the fortitude work at it and stick with it.