Thoughts on startups by investors that
fund them & entrepreneurs that run them

7 Reasons for Entrepreneurs to ‘First Know Thyself’

If you are going to be a real entrepreneur, it’s important that you know yourself well. After all, you won’t have a direct manager charged with giving you feedback, and your team probably will be afraid to tell you what they really think. Entrepreneurs need to recognize their own strengths and limitations.

In any case, your skills, talent, knowledge, personality, and strengths are your best assets as an entrepreneur. I’ve extracted many of the following points about knowing yourself from a book aimed at women professionals, called “Career GPS”, by Ella L. J. Edmondson Bell, Ph. D., but I see them applying equally well to every entrepreneur, man or woman. Let’s see what you think:

  1. Self-knowledge builds confidence. Know who you are and make sure you’re comfortable in your own skin. It will help you be a strong, . Being a leader – Jordan Green” href=””>effective leader. But don’t overdo it. We all know people who act supremely sure of themselves, but they are usually trying to hide some deep insecurities or fears.
  2. Self-awareness is one cornerstone of effective leadership. Leadership isn’t about how big your role is, or how big you act. Self-aware leaders are able to see the larger picture, the context and purpose. They actively listen and don’t put themselves ahead of others. They allow others to be the best they can be.
  3. Being sure of who you are allows you to make sound business decisions. When you are running a startup, having a better sense of who you are and what you want can help you push away things that are not really important, and urge you to go after the things that are really in your heart.
  4. Knowing, accepting, and liking who you are encourages others to do the same. Being authentic and genuine makes you attractive to your customers, respected by your team, and effective as a leader. Individuality is the hallmark of a successful and strong entrepreneur.
  5. Understanding your wants and needs helps you say “no” when necessary. Startup businesses are very demanding. You’ll be expected to be present just about 24/7 while keeping everything else in your life managed. Knowing your limits – just how far you can stretch before you break – is an important skill.
  6. Know all of you – the good, the bad, and the ugly. No one, even the best of us, is all good. The good encompasses the parts of ourselves that are our natural gifts and treasures. The bad are those parts that need work. The ugly parts are generally hidden, especially from ourselves. Use the good, fix the bad, and learn to live with the ugly.
  7. Knowing yourself allows you to maximize performance. There’s more to being successful than working hard. You have to be able to create a winning business plan, cultivate relationships, and build your brand. Work smart and focus on results in everything you do. This will reduce stress and increase satisfaction.

When you understand how you work most effectively, you will do a better job of delegation, use of outsourcing, and selection of partners and employees. Figure out .

True North – Phin Barnes” href=””>what you love to do, and what you can do well, then hire people to complement your abilities.

If you are by nature a big picture person, and have trouble with follow-through, then you need to find a detail task manager to fill in the gaps. On the other hand, if you get bogged down in systems details when you should be working on the long-term strategy, get yourself a mentor to keep you on the right path.

In fact, there has never been a better time or more opportunities for entrepreneurs. The current economic recovery demands a transformation of business processes and cultures, beginning at the startup level. Now is the time to know yourself and believe in yourself – and use this power to win.

Written by Martin Zwilling

user Martin Zwilling Founder and CEO,
Startup Professionals

Martin is a veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, and angel investor. He is the Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners.

prev next

You might also be interested in

Co-founder Equity Split: A New Framework to Objectively Divide Startup Ownership and Get Back to Building a Business

We’ve just released our free Co-founder Equity Split tool. It’ll give you a fair and objective recommendation about how to divide your startup’s ownership, so you and your co-founders will have a sensible, real starting point for this notoriously hard, crucially important conversation.

Many startup founders find themselves lacking clarity and direction when it comes time to divide their

Read more >

From Accelerators to Venture Capital: What is best for your startup?

With startup growth up 61% since 2014 and more investment programs emerging, it can be overwhelming for founders to know just where to jump in. As the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, MassChallenge has helped 835 startup companies around the world, who have raised over $1.1 billion in funding and created over 6,500 jobs. We have seen startups at

Read more >

Valuation Part I: Peeling the Onion, or How Top Investors Value the Startups They Invest In

Update 2017: To help you understand how your startup will look to investors according to this methodology, we’ve created a fundraising feedback tool that will give you investor-level insight into your startup’s performance. In just about 15 minutes, it will tell you how much money your startup is likely to raise, where you can find that capital, and what to

Read more >

Starting a Startup as CTO / Head of Product

After less than a year, Glassbreakers is now a team of 10, we have thousands of active users on our free product, we’ve expanded into enterprises with paying customers and raised over a million in seed funding. After a few of my Glassbreaker matches inquired, I started to reflect on what it’s like to build a startup

Read more >

18 Ways to Make Your Financial Model Stand Out to Investors

The median investor looking at your proposal is in her 40s. Her eyes are going, not to mention her brain. I look at a lot of spreadsheets and analytic reports, and way too many are difficult to read and therefore hard to understand.

In an effort to make my life easier, I’ve summarized here the steps that will

Read more >