5 ways emotional intelligence can help budding entrepreneurs

Many people joining the Great Resignation express a recent re-examination of their life and career priorities as an impetus for leaving their job. We also know from the increase in applications for business licenses, that a lot of those leaving are looking to become entrepreneurs.

Even before COVID-19, there were signs that small businesses and the gig economy were gathering steam. You certainly don’t have to look far to be inundated with stories of people who gave up their secure paychecks to strike out on their own and quickly made a fortune. However, the reality of entrepreneurship is often less glamorous—involving hard work, persistence, and overcoming setbacks and failures. There are not many stories of overnight success. Those who do become successful need to have mental and physical stamina, and the emotional resources that will take them the distance. Here is what is needed emotionally.

1. Self-awareness

The basis of all emotional intelligence, self-awareness, is crucial for entrepreneurs. While we often think of ourselves as rational beings, our decisions are often based on our emotions. A high awareness of our feelings helps us to use our emotions effectively to make well-informed decisions, rather than acting strictly from our emotional space. Self-awareness is also crucial to knowing how we show up and come across to others.

This is important in developing healthy working relationships with our staff, customers, suppliers, and others in our environment that will have a huge impact on our success. “Understanding oneself is the linchpin of being able to discern reality, engender trust, and inspire people,” says Neal Goldman, an entrepreneur and CEO-coach who recently founded FindCenter, a free online platform for personal, spiritual exploration. “Sometimes, to gain that understanding, you have to step away from the 24/7 grind and spend time working on yourself, finding the thing that grounds you and brings you clarity and purpose.”

2. Impulse control and understanding of delayed gratification

When things go wrong, as they often will, we need to have the ability to control reacting solely from our emotions. There is no longer a secure paycheck coming in. Instead, we need to be able to step back and look at the situation from a solutions-based perspective. This often means making immediate sacrifices in terms of time, effort, and finances in order to work toward a future goal.

3. Building supportive relationships

So much of our success in creating our own business depends upon how well we’re able to have others trust us, work with us, and help us succeed. Emotionally intelligent people are interested in the lives of others, empathetic, and know how to treat others in their orbit. They understand the need to build trust with those whom they rely upon to make their business successful. This builds up good will that’s crucial in any entrepreneur’s ability to ride out difficult times.

4. Self-confidence, adaptability, and a willingness to go outside our comfort zones

There’s rarely a straight line to success in any organization. Continued change and adaptation is the norm. This requires constant awareness of what’s happening in our environment and the ability to withstand constantly pushing our comfort zone. The ability to continue on and try new things is a major attribute that separates those who start their own businesses from those who need the comfort of having a secure job.

5. A strong support base

While the myth of the self-made individual persists in American ideology, most successful people know that it takes a strong team to build up a successful business. They’re active in their community, lending a helping hand, volunteering, and giving their time and energy generously. Known as community builders, they’re constantly aware that becoming successful doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it requires the goodwill and support of others in their environment.

Entrepreneurship is demanding of resources—both mental and emotional. Those who are able to persevere despite setbacks need to have a supportive home base that includes family and friends who believe in us and support us. Running our own business can be a lonely, frustrating, and demanding road. We need as much support and help as we can get.

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