Think outside the box: the assets that actually matter in entrepreneurship

We have reached a stage in entrepreneurship where many of our heroes have defied conventional expectations. They haven’t necessarily pursued formal post-secondary education, graduated with top honors, or accumulated an extensive list of scholastic achievements. Often, it is the distinct qualities or unique perspectives that set them apart, enabling them to think beyond conventional boundaries and persevere in the face of challenges. In this context, the significance of assets and character traits becomes paramount in our entrepreneurial journey and partnerships. They hold the key to shaping the future and determining the success of your business, surpassing the importance of educational institutions attended or degrees obtained.

If you aspire to be an entrepreneur but feel that you lack the requisite skills, it’s important to delve deeper. Each of us possesses a unique composition that may hold the very qualities required for a successful startup. Moreover, when considering a partnership with another individual, there is an opportunity to identify the assets you may be lacking and create a formidable alliance, amplifying the leadership capabilities of two already exceptional entrepreneurs.

What are some assets to keep an eye on?

When searching for a cofounder, or advocating for yourself as a founder, there are a few assets that you might not have considered, but that have great potential for the entrepreneurial scene. Here are a few, along with examples of how they might assist in your business venture and partnership.

Network

Your ability to form a network, or having a pre-established one, can be a great asset to your business. Building a strong network allows you to tap into a wide range of opportunities and resources. Through networking, you can connect with potential customers, investors, mentors, industry experts, suppliers, and other entrepreneurs. These connections can provide access to funding, valuable advice, strategic partnerships, distribution channels, and other crucial resources that can significantly benefit your business. When you partner with a cofounder, you have access to not only your network, but theirs. Consider this when you’re choosing a cofounder: it might feel comfortable to choose someone from your network and community, but you will have a wider reach of network assets if you partner with someone from a different network.

Networking also provides a platform for knowledge sharing and learning from others’ experiences. Engaging with like-minded entrepreneurs and industry professionals can expose you to new perspectives, insights, and industry trends. You can learn from their successes and failures, gain practical knowledge, and stay updated on the latest developments in your field.

Furthermore, entrepreneurship can be a challenging journey, and having a supportive network can make a significant difference. Building relationships with fellow entrepreneurs allows you to seek guidance, share challenges, and receive emotional support. Mentors within your network can provide valuable advice, share their expertise, and help you navigate through the complexities of running a business.

Networking helps you raise your personal and business profile within your industry or target market and is a powerful source of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. Attending industry events, conferences, and trade shows, participating in online communities, and engaging in professional organizations allow you to showcase your expertise, build credibility, and increase the visibility of your brand. This organic form of marketing can significantly boost your business’s reputation, credibility, and customer base as well as attract potential customers, investors, and partners to your business. This aspect of networking in particular can make a founder with influence more valuable than a cofounder with flashy educational accomplishments or accolades, as they will more quickly translate into gain for the company.

Time

Another greatly underestimated asset to a startup venture is a simple, yet irreplaceable, one: time. How much time you or your business partner will have to spend on the venture might be the difference between success and failure. First and foremost, starting and growing a business requires a significant commitment of time and effort. The amount of time an entrepreneur dedicates to their startup can directly correlate with their level of focus and dedication. Entrepreneurs who invest substantial time and energy into their venture demonstrate a higher level of commitment, which can positively influence their entrepreneurial journey. Also, the more time an entrepreneur can allocate to their startup, the faster they can execute their plans, iterate on their products or services, and respond to market demands. Timely execution can provide a competitive advantage, help seize opportunities, and accelerate the growth of the business.

The life stage that either you or your cofounder is at will also play an important role in how much time you have for the business. A founder with no huge responsibilities outside of the business will be a great asset to the company, as the only limiting factor for their ability to commit time is their will and energy.

Remember: As a business grows and scales, the time commitment required from the entrepreneur often increases. Scaling operations, expanding into new markets, and managing a growing team demands more time and attention. Entrepreneurs who can allocate the necessary time and resources to support the growth of the business have a higher likelihood of success and are better positioned to leverage business partnerships effectively.

Finally, consider your standing on time allocation in comparison to your (potential) business partner’s, as the time commitment of each partner in a business partnership can significantly influence the dynamics of the relationship. Misalignment in the amount of time and effort dedicated to the business can lead to conflicts, disparities in workload, and strained partnerships. Have an open and honest discussion about your time availability, work expectations, and individual commitments to ensure a shared understanding and maintain a healthy partnership.

Personality

One of the greatest differentials of a good entrepreneur to an entrepreneur that makes it to the absolute top is personality. Be it charisma, thinking outside the box, or nonconformity, the entrepreneurs that stick out always have a je ne sais quoi about them that incites intrigue and notoriety. Of course, it isn’t everyone’s aim to rise to the top because of an interesting CEO or cofounder, but consider what assets you and your cofounder will bring to the venture based on personality alone.

Here are some personality qualities that could be seen as assets to your business, keep an eye out for those in yourself and potential business partners:

Resilience – The ability to bounce back from failures, setbacks, and challenges is crucial in entrepreneurship. Resilient entrepreneurs can persevere through difficult times, learn from failures, and maintain a positive mindset.

Persistence – Entrepreneurship often requires a high level of persistence. Entrepreneurs who are determined and willing to put in consistent effort, even in the face of obstacles and rejection, are more likely to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

Self-Confidence – Confidence in oneself and one’s abilities is important for entrepreneurs. It helps them make bold decisions, take calculated risks, and navigate uncertain situations. Self-confidence also inspires others and attracts support and resources.

Adaptability – Markets, technologies, and customer preferences change rapidly. Entrepreneurs who are adaptable and open to change can quickly adjust their strategies, embrace new opportunities, and stay ahead of the curve.

Visionary Thinking – Having a clear vision and the ability to think big is valuable for entrepreneurs. Visionary thinking allows them to identify opportunities, set ambitious goals, and inspire others to work towards a common vision.

Proactiveness – Entrepreneurs who are proactive and take initiative have an advantage. They actively seek opportunities, anticipate challenges, and take action to create favorable outcomes. Proactiveness is closely tied to driving innovation and growth, and will even benefit the cofounder relationship as they will go out of their way to manage and upkeep the partnership.

Problem-Solving Skills – Entrepreneurship and cofounder partnerships involve solving complex problems and overcoming obstacles. Entrepreneurs with strong problem-solving skills can analyze situations, think critically, and find creative solutions, which is crucial for the success of their ventures and cofounding partnership.

Emotional Intelligence – Emotional intelligence encompasses self-awareness, empathy, and the ability to understand and manage emotions in yourself and others. Founders with high emotional intelligence can build strong relationships, handle conflicts effectively, and lead teams and manage cofounder partnerships with empathy and understanding.

Leadership – Entrepreneurs need to inspire and lead their teams towards a common goal. Strong leadership skills, including effective communication, decision-making, and delegation, are assets that can drive the success of a business.

Key Takeaways

Assets come in different shapes and sizes for entrepreneurship and cofounder partnerships. Do not automatically pass a potential cofounder up because their assets aren’t conventional; you could be missing out on a great partnership opportunity. In the same vein, do not discard yourself as a valuable asset to your company because your skills, accomplishments, and educational background doesn’t look like your peers’ or other founders’. Your unseen and undocumented assets will get you far, if you know how to use them correctly!

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