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When your most important strength becomes your biggest weakness

Entrepreneurship is hard. It’s often about working tirelessly to achieve your vision, but unlike collecting a salary with certainty each month from your corporate role, you are often spending your hard earned savings, incurring debt on your credit cards or increasing your mortgage for the pleasure of driving towards your business goals. There is typically significant risk involved which can even help to drive entrepreneurs to deliver on their business plans, although often at the cost of other parts of their life (but that’s another blog post all together).

There are many characteristics that come to mind when you think about a successful entrepreneur. Through our research and interactions with entrepreneurs, investors and related service providers we have seen and heard many circumstances of determined, resilient, disciplined and dogmatic individuals who are willing to take risks and continue putting one foot in front of the other on their journey, where many others would have long given up and gone back to their day job. So, what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? Well it’s clear that these traits outlined above are often associated with entrepreneurial success, but at what point do some of these traits start to become weaknesses and how can we navigate this fine balancing act?

To achieve the traction and scale that many start-ups need for success, there is often external capital required along the way. How do these traits that are strengths in driving the business forward impact an entrepreneur’s ability to raise capital? The capital raising process can be tough especially for those who are embarking on this adventure for the first time. The breadth of what you need to understand and the different people that need to be engaged to help on the journey mean that this can be a time where there is significant learning and upskilling in certain areas that are not necessarily relevant for the day to day running of your business, but are critical to bringing investors on board.

The process of raising capital requires a different skill set, different knowledge and insight and often different networks. We have seen successful business owners seeking capital to scale their business who clearly possess the traits outlined earlier and their determination, resilience and grit are no doubt part of the key to that success. However, these are often the same traits that bring their capital raising process to a sub-optimal conclusion. It can be difficult for entrepreneurs to open themselves and their baby up to feedback from others who haven’t been a part of their journey until now. But through the capital raising process this becomes unavoidable. Those who are risking theirs and or their clients’ hard-earned cash on entrepreneurs and their businesses will want to understand the business and likely have a view on different aspects of that business and the associated elements of the capital raising process. This is the point at which it becomes critical to be able to listen, take on board constructive feedback and sometimes even make adjustments to plans in order to work through the process. We have found that in many cases this becomes a barrier to otherwise very successful entrepreneurs.

So how can we navigate this fine line between driving hard towards your vision and being able to listen and take on feedback when the time is right and from the right influencers? Part of the answer comes down to self-awareness and being able to understand where your strengths are and where you may have gaps. Dina Pozzo, Founder and a Director at Insium an organisation committed to building confidence and capability in leaders and teams, tells us this can be achieved through self-reflection and feedback from trusted sources. Dina points out that it’s useful to consider using both these methods, as sometimes the way that we see ourselves can be different to the way others perceive us which will happen through their own lens.

The next step is about finding the right people to help fill those gaps, which is where MyPitchKit’s Community of Practice becomes invaluable to entrepreneurs on their capital raising journey. The only thing worse than not listening and taking on feedback or advice is listening and taking on feedback or advice from the wrong sources. This can be one of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make, losing both valuable time and what was coined “learning money” with providers who were either not well positioned to help them succeed or charged them exorbitantly to do so.

MyPitchKit’s Community of Practice is about connecting entrepreneurs to our carefully selected, expert service providers. Collaborators within the MPK Community of Practice are experts in their field, who not only bring valuable insight and real-world experience to the learning process through the online learning program, but become a preferred service provider for referral of start-ups requiring support to become investor ready. Having the right supportive team around you can make all the difference on your capital raising journey.