Being Attentive Helps the Entrepreneur By Galit Zamler
An entrepreneur who knows how to listen to his surroundings understands what needs to be done in order to succeed, and therefore education for attentiveness, from an early age gives an advantage to the person as an entrepreneur.
Every human being should learn to listen to others, for there is no man who knows everything and in every field, even if he thinks he knows, he must be willing to hear other views - because you never know what contribution he will find in them.
Listening as a Need for Learning
Hears and listen to suggestions, views, and ideas - and filters them. Some he accepts and some he does not. Ideas might come from people whom we did not expect to contribute in any form. Therefore, listening could be the key to an entrepreneur's success.
We can learn from younger people and even from children or inexperienced people, or even people who are not from our field. That message can be transferred to children even at an early age, so listen to the little ones or the older ones say to others - and decide whether or not to accept what they say.
An example of lack of attention from the entrepreneurial scene:
The Snap app was popular, especially among young users, until the company's founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel, decided to make significant changes in the application without checking it with the users and/or professionals.
Changing the app without listening to the users and colleagues turned out to be a critical issue in the application's life. The launch of the changes was accompanied by bad reviews from the users, some of whom "voted with their feet" and switched to competing applications.
An example of attention from the entrepreneurial scene:
Ronni Shtekler, an Israeli entrepreneur, tried to define her target audience in order to assess her teaching of remedial English program, Learn English and Remember. As she was talking to herself loudly, in her own home, one of her children overheard her, and asked: what about those who just didn't feel like learning English and were left behind? - Ronni saw it as an excellent idea, a fit target audience whom she did not know how to define, and here comes a little boy to assist her, even though he doesn't quite understand the term, Target Audience.
Even large companies brag about them being able to listen to customer's needs - they have already figured out that education for listening is the base for success.
Eli Horovitz R.I.P. said this about listening: the Israeli tends to see himself a bit better than others, especially when he has 'proof' of it. The wisdom is to comprehend that you might be better off because you listen to others, because you look at others equally.
Knowing How to Accept Criticism
Because he may be over excited about the idea which he wants to pursue, the entrepreneur sometimes has difficulties listening to criticism.
Sometimes the entrepreneur filters comments from the environment, and only listens to those who support the idea, and ignores the criticism from those who don't support the idea.
That's because he listens only to what he wants to hear, even subconsciously.
Indeed, one of the issues of entrepreneurs is over excitement at the idea of a project.
But there's also a real difficult to comprehend just when criticism is correct and when it's not, however, it is important to listen and analyze and not to ignore criticism.
Statistics show that even among venture funds, where there are people who meet many entrepreneurs and examine many ideas regarding possible investment, eventually, the ratio of success to failure is 1/10. This means that nearly 10% of the projects were successful and 90% failed.
In order to examine the idea in a supervisory perspective, we must listen to criticism, too.
One of the most important tools an entrepreneur has is the ability to listen to customers and the environment. That ability enables the entrepreneur to identify needs and opportunities to improve and/or develop products and new services customers need.
This is also true when it comes to salesmen. A good salesman is a person who listens to the potential client. The salesman will learn the client's needs and habits, and only then will he present his product/service which will most suit that specific client.
Amazon is a good example that listening to customers brings success: According to Paul Misener, 90% of the innovation that led to the success of Amazon's cloud services comes from customers' feedbacks, from listening to those feedbacks and from wanting to please customers.
Listening to customers and answering their needs is a much better way than looking at competitors and constantly trying to beat them, because we can see the actions of the competitors only when they are published, and then we will always be in pursuit. However, if we evolve according to our customers' needs, we will know that there is a demand for our developments, since they came from the market itself.
This point is critical to the success of entrepreneurs, since according to research conducted in the USA found that most of the projects fail because ultimately they were not needed. Only if we listen to customers and their needs will we be able to market with products that will also have demand.
By the way, the Entrepreneurship for Kids (EFK) Program has also reached impressive achievements by listening to the needs of teachers and schools. The program constantly evolves according to requests from the users.
Coordination of Expectations
One of the key factors for success with various parties is coordinating expectations.
The need to coordinate expectations meets the entrepreneur in several nodes, including in front of investors, partners, suppliers, and customers.
The basis for coordinating expectations is the listening of the different sides to each other and the understanding of what is said correctly.
Therefore, as entrepreneurs, we will listen and understand the needs of the people investing in our project, understand their expectations from us and they will also understand our expectations from them, and if for some reason there is no match, it is better to know this at the beginning.
The same applies in front of partners. Sometimes, partners in the projects are quarreling because of misunderstandings and lack of coordination of expectations, which stems from lack of listening and therefore a lack of understanding among the partners, and at some point, anger and frustration arise, which could have been avoided if only the partners were sitting together and talking about their expectations from the project and clarifying the role of each of them in the process.
When it comes to partners, it is recommended, after discussion, to sign a Founder's Agreement. The advantage of the founders' agreement is that it forces each of the partners to raise questions, some of which also deal with problems that may arise in the future, such as responsibilities, the degree of investment of each of them, whether in money or in time, the contribution of each of them to the success of the venture, what happens if one of the partners leaves?, and how to handle with disagreements?. The preparation of the Founder's Agreement also enables the partners to listen to each other and to understand the interests, the values, and motivations of each of them.
When it comes to coordinating customer-supplier expectations: whether we use supplier services, or whether we are the suppliers that serve customers, it is clear to us that customer satisfaction is derived from the expectations from the product or service. Therefore, it is important that if we are entrepreneurs at a beta stage, or if we have not yet developed certain features in the project, we will also make sure not to promise their existence, so that the customer will not be disappointed, but will be satisfied for he had received what he expected to receive and preferably even more.
Listening to the Stakeholders
Every company, organization and start-up exist in the environment of the stakeholders.
The stakeholders, as described in the following sketch are: shareholders, customers, workers, suppliers, lenders, the government, the community and the society.
If in the past it was a costume to think that an organization needs to emphasize only on making a profit for the shareholders, even if it means hurting other stakeholders, today things are different.
Nowadays, it's expected of each organization to be attentive to all stakeholders. The expectation is that a business will be profitable for shareholders, but at the same time will also be fair toward the costumers, the workers, the suppliers and creditors. In addition, the organization will take care of the environment, will have social responsibility, and will follow the rules of regular procedure.
The more an organization will succeed in listening and balancing between the needs and exceptions of every stakeholder, the more it will get recognition, loyalty and long-term success.
This demand is directed today toward all the organizations and companies, even those who are the most successful such as Amazon, whose getting slammed for hiring workers under bad working conditions. The same is happening at Apple, whose being blamed for hiring contract workers under abusive conditions.
Most recently the company WeWork tried to raise money, but got criticized for the way it was handling financially, and the way decisions were being made in the organization.
Another company that got sued for breach of trust and hurting consumers is Johnson&Johnson whose ways of marketing and promoting sales of painkillers were determined as misleading.
The emphasize is being shifted from short-term immediate profit on the account of hurting the stakeholders, to honest profits.
Entrepreneur skills & entrepreneurship education