I was reading an article by Carol Roth on this subject and was immediately intrigued by her assertion that one of the most counter-intuitive traits that can hurt entrepreneurs is smarts. In summary:
While you may think that being smart, motivated and talented would logically make someone the best possible candidate for entrepreneurship, the more successful you are and the more talents you have, the harder it is to run a business.
“The smart-people problem” starts back in school with group projects, where the smartest and most talented people in each group decide that they are going to do the lion’s share of the work. They don’t want to risk their grade in the class by dividing the work equally … the smart people just take over and do the whole project themselves.
And thus begins the smart-people work cycle. The smartest people do just about everything better than most everyone else. They write better, plan better and reason better. They are better, until it comes to running a business. Then, they are not better; they are screwed.
The smart person tries to do everything himself, because he can’t stand someone else doing a job badly.
Then, he is stuck with the one-man band “job-business” and ends up not being able to grow.
Slackers may be better suited for entrepreneurship as they figure out early on to surround themselves with smart people who will do the work. They know how to delegate and sometimes, how to manipulate other people into doing things that they don’t want to do. They keep it simple so their processes are easily duplicated, which is essential for business growth. They take more risks, as they would traditionally have less to lose monetarily than their smarter counterparts if they fail, and forge ahead possibly unaware of any potential roadblocks they may encounter.
Being smart or talented isn’t going to help you unless you can use those smarts to figure out a way to simplify those tasks that will make a business successful. This isn’t easy, because it goes against everything that you have ever done and is counter to how you were taught to think. However, it is necessary for a business to succeed.
So, with the most to lose, a wide range of other options available and the penchant for more intricate, complex endeavors, don’t be surprised when the person “Most Likely to Succeed” from high school ends up in a corporate position and it is one of the more average students that finds success in his or her own business.
We welcome your thoughts.