Having assisted in the startup of more than 2,500 new companies in the past decade, we’ve learned a thing or two about the natural assets of a great entrepreneur. We considered such virtues as hard work, commitment, great financial resources, even the value of desperation because they can’t find a job.
Our conclusion, however, is that the number one attribute of a great startup and one that has the ability to survive and prosper, is having a natural and abiding sense of curiosity.
Curiosity leads to such observations as “I wonder why that store does or doesn’t do this or that?” OR…”I’ve noticed that people are complaining a lot about customer service, is there a better way to streamline or database to make people happier and make money from it?” OR…”How come when people order some carpeting or an appliance it has to be ordered from afar and wait weeks for delivery – how can I do it better?” OR… “I’ve read that 40% of all consumer purchases are made after 6 pm and yet most downtown stores close at 5:30, why is that?”
That same sense of curiosity and discovery leads to a desire to know what’s new in the world, or within their industry, or changes in the local business environment. Our experience has shown us that ‘readers become leaders’ and it’s only through knowledge of the world around us combined with a high level of curiosity about the WHY of life will we each find the opportunities to move forward.
In today’s world of knowledge access, virtually every curiosity can be answered in seconds through Google and other search engines, via online magazines unique to your industry or general business issues.
There’s literally no excuse for not knowing.
As a one-time consultant I would prepare for a client meeting by learning every possible thing about his or her business, their challenges, their market share if available and just what’s happening with their business that might cause them to want to do business with me. Walking into a meeting armed with that knowledge provides a vast advantage over the competition. Believe it or not, we see some entrepreneurs who are after a specific client and haven’t even taken the time to read the target client’s website!
Well known writer of the subject of entrepreneurism, Michael Gerber (the E-Myth) says that people only buy a product or service if they have a pain or a need. Use your natural curiosity to find out how people satisfy that pain or need in today’s market, then figure out a way to do it better and you have a great business model.