Entrepreneurs are Terrible Communicators (But That’s Not Always a Bad Thing)

Entrepreneurs are Terrible Communicators (But That’s Not Always a Bad Thing)
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Entrepreneurs can be some of the worst communicators.

In fact, that inability to communicate effectively or take direction from management can be the very reason entrepreneurs start their own businesses in the first place.

But there’s no way around it: Communication is an essential part of any business interaction.

So, how do Entrepreneurial Personality Types (EPTs) overcome their communication struggles to build successful businesses?

During my time as a consultant to the Fortune 500, global 100 and thousands of entrepreneurs, this is a question that would keep me up at night. Mostly because I knew my own communication skills needed improving.

When I’d meet with highly intelligent entrepreneurs, I’d often find our conversations felt a little uncomfortable, like we were both trying to speak a language the other didn’t understand completely. I’d wonder…

How can entrepreneurs like this think they’re going to be successful?

How did these entrepreneurs build relationships or function in any social situation?

Who taught these entrepreneurs communication skills?

But then it hit me: entrepreneurs did not build companies because of their communication skills. They did it in spite of their shortcomings … because they had other unique strengths and abilities.

And they did this by leaning on communication systems – not communication skills – to move their businesses forward. They created ways to ensure communications happened, and that it was consistent and reliable.

If you yourself struggle with communication, here are a few tactics you can use to overcome some of the difficulty:

  • Consistency: Create a consistent framework of communication so that certain reports or meetings happen on specified days with specific times and designated team members. Ensure that these targeted interactions occur on a consistent basis and that team members are primed well in advance so that they can be prepared for the meeting.
  • Communication Guidelines: Establish strict rules for these communications and specify how you’d like to receive those messages (length, tone, formatting, outcomes and agendas). Clearly designate ownership over each project or responsibility so that there’s no ambiguity around who should be reporting what.
  • Independent Communication: Ensure the communication system you create operates on its own, without your direct oversight. As the leader and visionary, your time is precious. It shouldn’t be spent hunting down data or coordinating perspectives from various sources.
  • Push Notifications: Establish a system that has your team pushing relevant information to you. You shouldn’t have to waste energy or focus asking for this information.
  • Minimum Effective Dose: Are you communicating with too few people, or perhaps too many? Most entrepreneurs have no idea. But until you’ve taken the time to document your regular communications, including who owns them, it will be difficult to determine how to improve. I counsel entrepreneurs to strive for the minimum effective dose of communications (and their owners), because it will help nail down the essential metrics, reports and communications that will move the company forward.

Successful entrepreneurs who are worth millions, or even billions today didn’t get that way by knowing or doing everything themselves. They know what their strengths are and they’ve hired the right people to make up for their weaknesses.

Think of professional athletes. Those at the top of their game often have everything handled for them – from their nutrition and exercise regimens, to their finances, transportation and lodging. Why? So that they can put all of their focus into the one thing they’re great at: winning games.

Successful business leaders are no different. They create environments that allow them to work within their unique strengths and abilities, while others provide them with protection and support. The entrepreneurs who learn to do this succeed because they’re able to leverage and amplify their strengths through the help of their team. In this environment, everyone is able to move forward faster together.

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