The inner game of a successful entrepreneur

inner_game_of_tennis_coverBeing a successful entrepreneur is an inner game. It’s all about how you manage your mind and your internal beliefs. In Timothy Gallwey’s famous book The Inner Game of Tennis, he pointed out that tennis players are often totally obsessed with external things (the new tennis racket, the tennis shoes, the competition, the weather, etc.). They tend to lose site of the most important factor to being a great tennis player – the inner game – the mental attitudes and internal focus that are necessary to succeed.

Being a successful entrepreneur is no different. It’s the inner game that is the greatest challenge, not the external factors that are continually changing. Success for your startup is not really about the economy, or your competition or about the next technology platform. It’s about you.

Last week I led a workshop in Prague for a group of 48 experienced entrepreneurs. I asked them a simple question –

“What are the most important traits that a successful entrepreneur must have?”

Here is their list:

  1. Passion & Enthusiasm in what you do
  2. The Belief that you will succeed
  3. The ability to keep a clear Vision of a successful future
  4. Determination and Persistance
  5. The ability to Motivate yourself and others
  6. Salesmanship & the ability to be Persuasive
  7. Effective communication and good Negotiation skills
  8. The ability to be a Leader
  9. The ability to Listen
  10. Keeping focus on the Customer
  11. Hiring the right people (and knowing how to identify them)
  12. The ability to manage scarce resources effectively
  13. A supportive family and balanced lifestyle
  14. Focus and the ability to Deliver (making a good idea work)

So take 2 minutes and examine your own situation as an entrepreneur. Which of the items in the list accurately describe you? Look at the list and honestly appraise yourself. Are there one or two areas that you need to strengthen in your own character? What would the effect on your startup business be if you did this? Just ponder this for a moment…

What if you were a tennis player and you discovered you needed help with a certain aspect of your game, for example, your backhand. Wouldn’t your personal coach setup a training plan designed to strengthen your backhand? If you discover areas of your inner entrepreneur game that need strengthening, don’t just think about it. Take action. One action might be to hire a personal coach. Hire the best one you can find and then make massive progress in this area. You will be surprised with the results.