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Do you have the aptitudes to thrive as an entrepreneur?

The truth is that anyone can become an entrepreneur. But is everyone cut out to take on all that it entails and survive as an entrepreneur? Well, that's another question...

How do you feel about working on yourself? If you are still questioning the usefulness of doing this, have a look at this article! Are you in tune with what you want to do? Do you know yourself well enough to answer this vital question? Do you know which strengths to capitalise on and which weaknesses in your personality to improve in order to carry out your entrepreneurial project successfully? How do you plan to achieve and maintain your work/life balance once in business? To start answering this avalanche of questions, take the entrepreneurial aptitude test!

How does it work?

75 questions to evaluate 15 resources in 10 minutes!

This tool provides you with a reading grid that will help you become aware of your strengths and your potential for further development by evaluating the level of your internal resources (know-how, attitudes, interpersonal skills, etc.).

What state of mind should you adopt? Take this test spontaneously, without overthinking, using your instinct, with goodwill and honesty. Its purpose is by no means to put a label on you! Instead, consider the feedback that you get critically and constructively!

What are the guidelines for doing this? You will have to select your position in relation to statements on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”.

How to interpret the results? A point near the edge of the graph indicates that your internal resources for that category are high. By contrast, a point close to the centre indicates a lower level of resources, which can be improved with the advice and practical exercises that you will find in this article.

Why take the entrepreneurial aptitude test?

In order to properly fill the numerous roles that will be required of you in your future life as an entrepreneur, I suggest that you do some soul-searching with this entrepreneurial skills test. I like this test for two reasons. The first is that I have personally taken it five times, and each time the same weaknesses have emerged, albeit to a greater or lesser extent. I conclude that this test is reliable: even if the intensity varies according to my state of mind on the day, my intrinsic strengths and weaknesses remain the same. The second reason that motivates me to write about the subject is that I find it of practical use. I am now able to identify very quickly the situations that challenge me and those that, on the contrary, comfort me. It helps me to manage my energy better.

The 15 skills, one by one – with tips and exercises to develop them

Number 1: Tolerance for failure

Every project, whether entrepreneurial, personal or otherwise, carries with it the likelihood of failure. How you face this risk, as well as the lessons that you learn from it are what makes risking failure a tool for progress rather than a handicap for the future. By taking on more challenges, you increase the probability of failure but above all, you will acquire a rich experience that will guide you towards success!

How can you develop this ability?

  • Reduce the impact of failure through relaxation. The absence of bodily tension will keep you clear-headed and allow your emotional system to relativise the importance of your mishap.
  • Write down (this is a general rule, do all the suggested exercises in writing. It helps to make things concrete in order to really move them forward) a past experience where you experienced an event as a failure and note how you overcame it. What resources did you use? Then answer the question: what did you learn?
  • Choose the top five talents that best fit you from Gallup's 34 talents. Prioritise them and capitalise on your talents with concrete actions.

Number 2: Feeling of security

Your sense of security is a permanent measuring mechanism that operates in the background and assesses risks. It is a subjective measure that uses parameters of your environment but also gauges your capabilities. When the sense of security is too low, it tends to slow you down to reduce the risk. In this case, everything seems hostile. A balanced sense of security, on the other hand, stimulates you and frees up space for reflection.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Create a filter against anxiety-provoking information: of all the information you receive every day, much of it conveys fear, anger or sadness. This is like exposing yourself to pollution. You impair your ability to think and act. So set up a critical filter and measure your exposure to these anxiety-provoking sources.
  • Distinguish between your internal and external LOC (locus of control)! Do you tend to see your successes or failures more as the consequences of your own actions (skills, efforts, etc.) or more as the result of external factors (environment, luck, etc.)?

If you are internally LOC-oriented, you feel responsible for your life and act where you know you have power. In this case, give yourself breaks and give up control over certain aspects of your life. You can't control everything, and that's good! Life would be a bit boring otherwise, don't you think? To help you do this, I suggest practicing mindfulness and remembering that memories and anticipations are just thoughts. What is real is the present moment. Sometimes say to yourself: “Here and now, I am safe”.

If you realise that you tend to think of yourself as acting according to what life brings you, then you are externally LOC-oriented. Be careful not to fall victim to your own life! Remember that you are in control of your choices and actions, and that even when things are out of your control, you can always change the way you look at them. To help you strengthen your internal LOC, surround yourself with caring and supportive people. Also create a healthy and pleasant physical environment in which you feel good. This will put you in the best possible conditions for entrepreneurship!

Number 3: Letting go

We are often chained to our problems by a powerful bond. This prevents us from moving forward and putting our energy into new projects or into a better relationship with others.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Through good ego management! Your ego is like a vulnerable being that, when it feels threatened, defends itself violently. Learn to be critical of what it tells you... Proceed the same way as with your relationships – don't take everything it tells you at face value. To understand this concept in depth, I recommend you read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Meditation and relaxation practice helps to desensitise the ego.
  • It may sound cheesy but I think it's important to share: try to be as caring and patient with yourself as you are with someone close to you. Honestly, would you say “You suck!” to your six-year-old? Why would you ever say it to yourself then?
  • Focus on your internal LOC! Take action where you have the power to act. Recognise what you cannot control and choose to adapt your behaviour in the way that is most beneficial – or at least the least painful – for you. For example, you cannot avoid the successive crises of our modern world. But you can detect the needs that these crises bring to the surface and perhaps even propose solutions to address them!

Number 4: Body relaxation

Thoughts generate emotions that take shape and are expressed in the body. But a certain physical state – calm or tense – also induces certain emotions. Your lucidity and your ability to think are strongly associated with your degree of relaxation. Moreover, the tensions you express allow others to decipher your fears and doubts. A good thing to know before a meeting with an investor or a prospect, isn't it?

How can you develop this ability?

  • Release facial tension: your face is the part of your body where tension is most strongly materialized. The process can be reversed. Intentionally relaxing your face several times a day will tell your brain to calm down. It will do this by regulating the various mechanisms in your body that are responsible for emotions: heart, breathing, hormones, neuromediators, etc.
  • Practice the body scan. It's an exercise in visualizing different parts of your body that relaxes you and makes you aware of your general state: tensions, pains, well-being... There are plenty of meditations on this! For example, Petit Bambou is a good app for meditation and has a dedicated body scan program. You will be more efficient in your tasks and balanced in your role as a business leader by being more relaxed.
  • Exercise regularly! Do I really need to explain the benefits of regular exercise to you?

Number 5: Autonomy

To be autonomous is to be able to free yourself from enough influences and obstacles to express your uniqueness. It also means sharpening your critical mind, not to devalue yourself but to be able to recognise the mechanisms that direct you against your will. Being a creator or leader means being a pathfinder rather than a follower. It is about listening to your environment and protecting yourself from pernicious manipulation.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Be a pilot or a passenger: depending on the situation, you can choose to be at the controls or to be guided. The key is to choose the degree of control that the situation requires. Choose consciously! This ability to identify and choose the most appropriate posture will prevent you from using your energy unproductively and will greatly increase your autonomy in many circumstances.
  • Adopt the method of small steps. Move forward with your entrepreneurial project in a structured way. Dream big but act small, pragmatically. Define SMART goals in writing. Once you have achieved them, celebrate each step! This will gradually build your self-confidence and lead you to a well-deserved success, with measured risk-taking.

Number 6: Desire

Desire is the fuel of your action engine. It is the prerequisite for all self-improvement. The quality of this desire will be crucial to enable you to overcome obstacles. Ephemeral or artificial desires will not fuel you sufficiently and the energy to be put into ambitious projects is likely to be insufficient in this case.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Identify your sources of desire and the concrete benefits that come from achieving your goals by referencing them exhaustively in order to capitalise on as many of them as possible. Then, in the same way, identify the benefits linked to your actions with concrete experiences. For example: your objective is to contact 20 prospects by phone this week; you want to obtain five appointments; you get two in the month and expand your network for the future; your direct benefits are new meetings that enrich you humanly; and your final benefit is to close new sales! Focus on this and note the pleasure that these two appointments have given you (and not the 18 phone calls that may seem fruitless in the short term).
  • Balance your work life with your personal life: have different 'reserves' to draw on in your life. When you are having difficulties, being able to draw on another area of your life will recharge your batteries and allow you to step back and re-boost your desire to make your business work.
  • Before you start as an entrepreneur, be sure to consider this question: is your entrepreneurial project driven by a deep motivation or desire or is it more of a 'passing' desire? Be sure of yourself because this is a decision with far-reaching consequences.

Number 7: Self-esteem and confidence

Self-esteem is an ongoing and evolving assessment of your ability to cope with the various situations you encounter in your life. But it is also a measure of how you imagine others perceive you. Unfortunately, both of these assessments are often wrong and lead to a frequently devalued self-esteem. And yet, self-esteem is essential when you are striving to meet challenges, especially when you are an entrepreneur...

How can you develop this ability?

  • Value your experiences. Every day, when you are doing enjoyable or rewarding activities, use these moments to think about past achievements (however small) of which you are proud. For example: when you are exercising, recall the steps that led to the signing of your last mandate; while you are walking, list in your mind all the exams, tests, certifications you have passed; or when you are listening to music, recall a trip that made you grow and during which you developed your knowledge of a foreign language, etc. Basically, you will associate successes with moments of physical well-being and the two will reinforce each other. This will create a record in your internal database that is easily accessible to the system that evaluates your esteem.
  • Do the exercise “The flaws in my qualities and the qualities in my flaws” detailed in this article on the impostor syndrome.
  • Once again, I recommend the method of small steps: breaking down goals into smaller pieces and setting them over time strengthens your satisfaction with the action you have accomplished and ultimately boosts your self-confidence and your abilities.

Number 8: Energy

The degree of physical and mental fitness you have when you embark on a project is crucial. This will enable you to overcome the pitfalls at the various stages of your enterprise or not. This is why you should be concerned about generating these energies and maintaining them at the right level.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Adopt a morning start-up routine: the aim is to set yourself up at the beginning of the day so that you reach a state of energy that will last until the evening. How can you do this? By combining physical activity with positive thinking exercises, for example. These two practices will mutually enrich each other and boost your dynamism.
  • Once again, exercise regularly: find a “fun” sport that is perceived as a hobby and not as a constraint, plan sports sessions in your diary and stick to them!
  • Know your body's signals when you need to rest. This is essential for long-term success.

Number 9: Optimism

To be optimistic is to perceive more acutely the potential for success in a situation rather than the probability of failure. The only way to engage in a challenge is for this perceived potential to stimulate your desire and motivation to undertake it. But it is also, very often, a matter of being able to free yourself from the prevailing pessimistic discourse.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Show your optimism: it may take some effort but it is worth it. This positive message to those around you will in turn produce positive feedback. This will allow you to influence your ecosystem in a way that benefits you. On the other hand, you will naturally become more positive, which will help you to federate a solid community around you and your project!

Cultivate it! Smile, laugh, joke, sing, dance, don't take yourself too seriously, it feels good! We need to put our worries into perspective, anyway; we all know how life ends...

Number 10: Audacity

The search for comfort is natural. However, nothing great is achieved without a certain amount of audacity! Difficulty and uniqueness have barriers that few people know how to overcome. Yet these are challenges that, once overcome, motivate and nourish entrepreneurs.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Try small things with a high potential for failure: experimenting with risk in small doses helps to desensitise you to it and has the advantage of not altering your self-esteem. In addition, it has a priming effect that allows you to push the boundaries of your comfort zone.
  • Use the SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound) with discipline and you will see that you will gradually dare to do more and more.
  • Remember two motivational quotes: “Better done than perfect!” and “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine – it's lethal.” Or any other quote that resonates with you!

Number 11: Pleasure

Pleasure is not just, as some people think, the icing on the cake. Above all, it is the ingredient that enables us to mobilise many of our abilities to achieve a result. We are never as good and efficient as when we enjoy what we are doing. The pleasure in doing something is a reward and a powerful driving force.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Tell people about what gives you pleasure: telling people about a pleasant experience brings it back into your consciousness. Sharing it will enhance its value and give it greater status. This process, beyond the renewed pleasure, will familiarise you with the recognition of this resource. In addition, this storytelling will make you feel valued by others.
  • Enjoy life and be grateful: surround yourself with people who “pull you up”, who mean well, who are positive, who make you smile, with whom you can have some fun times. The same goes for your activities and hobbies.
  • Replace TO DOs with DONEs. Once again, the action taken generates satisfaction and pleasure.

Number 12: Empathy

The ability to read our own emotions and those of our interlocutors, a sharp eye and a keen ear for emotional expression allow for a better interpretation of our relationships and a more relevant reaction to situations.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Synchronise with the body language of the other person: discreetly synchronising with the posture, rhythm and movements of the person you are talking to promotes empathetic exchange and builds mutual trust. The person you are interacting with will feel more comfortable and you will make progress in understanding them.
  • Practice active listening. Take a genuine interest, ask questions of the people around you, listen as much as possible, and only give your opinion if asked. Spend 80% of your time listening and 20% Not the other way round! The other person will feel listened to, understood and more confident. In the end, he or she will want to work with you more.
  • Just ask yourself, “What if the situation were reversed, how would I react if someone addressed what I am about to say or do?”

Number 13: Out of the box

Culture, apprehensions or the economic climate often force us to stay in a predefined mould. Extracting yourself from this to express your uniqueness may require an effort of will. But this resource allows you to cross universes, to be attentive to all original and daring opportunities. It generates innovation and creativity.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Build thematic bridges: when you are trying to solve a problem, imagine that you are in a different geographical, societal, family or relationship environment. The aim is to transpose solutions from another sector to the situation that concerns you. For example: sport to business or music to management.
  • Activate all forms of intelligence at your disposal to expand your comfort zone. Although our culture emphasises logical-mathematical intelligence, there are actually eight of them and none is objectively more valuable than the others: verbal, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily, visual-spatial, naturalist and interpersonal! Sometimes, for example, going for a walk for an hour can help us find a solution when we have been working on the problem for days at our desk.

Number 14: Flow

Flow or “optimal experience” is a highly productive state because it occurs when your investment in a task is 100%. In this state, you don’t perceive the passing of time; all your capacities are mobilised and any progress made generates a strong feeling of satisfaction. Artists, sportsmen and women, entrepreneurs, but also all those who practice an activity with passion experience this state at some point. The flow can also be experienced collectively, for example in the case of brainstorming.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Practice mindfulness meditation: meditating is a real training that allows you to better control your psychic energy and to avoid wasting it due to a bad channelling of your thoughts. In addition, it dramatically reduces the tensions that hinder you. Mindfulness meditation, which is very much in tune with our culture, has been proven effective by numerous research studies.
  • Search until you find an activity that helps you transcend: music, theatre, painting, sport, cooking, reading, watching the scenery on the train, walking in nature, dancing, playing, caring for others... The notions of time and space no longer exist, the ego is silent. It will then be easier for your brain to find this state since it will have already experienced it.

Number 15: Intuition

It is an ability that we all have to varying degrees and which we can make the most of. This unconscious process uses the billions of pieces of information stored throughout your life to extract answers and solutions without involving your mind.

How can you develop this ability?

  • Be aware of your body’s signals associated with a choice. In all situations, your body sends you signals that are more or less clear and most of which go unnoticed – upset stomach, sweaty hands, clenched jaw, smile or slight euphoria, etc. Listening to these signals allows you to take them into account and use them to make optimal choices.
  • Consider your intuition as a compass: evaluate a situation through your five senses, without intellectualising everything all the time. To practise, you can plan dedicated moments where you focus your attention on this. Whatever the situation, the environment etc., have fun observing what is happening through your five senses, with curiosity. You will see that reality is often full of clues that are invisible to the eye.

 

I hope that you too can apply what the entrepreneurial skills test has taught you in your daily life! You will be able to capitalise on your innate and/or acquired skills and develop the skills you need to improve. You will see that your comfort zone will slowly but surely expand...

If you would like to receive support and advice on this subject, contact the nyuko team!

Sources: this article is based on work done by the Chambres de Commerce et d'Industrie françaises (French Chambers of Commerce and Industry), in partnership with Joel and Sean Luzi, speakers and authors of « Entrepreneurs, mobilisez vos ressources émotionnelles ». The proposed exercises are based on a life coaching course given by NC Coaching and on my own life coaching course.

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