I’ve met with many brilliant entrepreneurs that failed because they lost their social IQ. Put another way; they lost awareness – which is what gives entrepreneurs vision.
How others perceived these talented startup entrepreneurs, and how well they listened to their audience, became an afterthought for them (at their own peril) because their day-to-day consumed their mind. The startup phase is a wild, fun, stressful, and obsessive period that tends disrupt entrepreneurs’ social intelligence…
Tunnel vision is a symptom of startup entrepreneurship, and it can kill young enterprises.
During the startup phase, so many of us get buried in our own world. We get obsessed with our company because every detail matters, stress is high, and time is scarce. During the startup phase, founders typically aren’t thinking of anything but their venture — the definition of obsessed. For entrepreneurs, obsession is a blessing and a curse. It enables highly focused work, but also makes the entrepreneur shut themselves off to the rest of the world. I know because I’ve been there.
Tuning out the rest of the world deteriorates one’s social IQ. And a low social IQ is particularly damaging to entrepreneurs and their businesses.
The good thing is that social IQ is developed. It can be lost and earned.
I’ve seen poor social IQ turn a once great pitchman into a boring, long-winded one. It transformed a brilliant, humble inventor into one of the most self-righteous, lecturing sounding people you’d ever meet. I’ve seen one founder who developed a low social IQ manage to offend a boardroom of investors by inadvertently talking down to them about fundamental physics.
The crazy thing is that this low social IQ is developed over time. We develop a low social IQ when we stop exposing ourselves to new opportunities and experiences that matter.
Experiences that matter come slowly in life when you’re buried in your world. So, to gain awareness and improve your social IQ, force exposure to experiences that matter and involve others.
I encourage all entrepreneurs in the startup phase to remember what got them to where they are today: Passion, curiosity, and a desire to learn every little detail about their industry.
Constant exposure to new people and personal growth opportunities makes entrepreneurs open to new ideas, creative and capable of a pivot if needed. They improve social intelligence and make entrepreneurs more interesting in general as they’ll be capable of engaging in a broad range of conversations due to their vast array of experiences and learnings.
These experiences that matter provide a heightened level of awareness, which is tremendously valuable when pitching your startup to a new audience, managing growth in the early days with new hires, and they help when thinking on your feet.
Imagine being in a meeting with investors and you aren’t aware of the latest breakthrough in your industry…
You would come off as lacking expertise in the space you are supposed to be an expert in. No one would invest in your venture. I know because I’ve seen it. An entrepreneur was so buried in the minutia of his startup that he stopped paying attention to his competitors. When asked about his chief competitor’s latest development and how it may negatively impact his commercial launch, he had nothing. Didn’t even know of the looming threat, and therefore couldn’t explain how he intended to deal with it. Worst of all, this competitor was one of the comparables he used in his pitch deck.
Regrettably, the startup phase often numbs the entrepreneur/founder to the environment around him. He stops looking for other opportunities, is disinterested in personal life experiences, stops networking, and loses the creative time he once cherished. This is destructive because awareness is the genesis of all great businesses and business relationships. And from a personal perspective, variety is the spice of life…
I encourage all entrepreneurs in the startup phase to remember what got them to where they are today: Passion, curiosity, and a desire to learn every little detail about their industry. Instead of avoiding those activities because of a busy schedule, reintroduce them.
Read books, and go to conferences if for nothing more than to see what everyone else in your industry is up to. Attend speeches by thought leaders in your niche. Never stop learning no matter how buried in your startup you may be. It’s critical to the long term success of your venture.
PS – Entrepreneurship is as much a mental game as anything else. Let me shed some light on that and many other aspects of being a successful entrepreneur. Subscribe to my newsletter below. Only my best content will land in your inbox.