configuration management

The Entrepreneur's Toolbox
By Claudette Rowley

Entrepreneurship is largely an inside out proposition. Whether you're trying to create a technology or develop a product, entrepreneurship starts with who you are, and blossoms out from there. In other words, as an entrepreneur, your style is unique to you. You can take every class on how to "do" entrepreneurship - learn business strategy until you could teach at the Harvard Business School, and network until you know everyone in the phonebook. While the knowledge base required for entrepreneurial success in your field is critical, no one can tell you how to "be" an entrepreneur. That you must discover for yourself.
In my experience, entrepreneurs of all stripes require an internal skill set that I call the Entrepreneur's Toolbox. These tools, just as much as what's happening in the business environment, can make or break the fulfillment of your entrepreneurial vision.

The Tools:

Intuition - Intuition is knowing something without knowing how you know. In other words, it's a form of inner guidance or "gut feeling" that allows you to know things that your rational mind can't. Developing your intuition is critical to your entrepreneurial success. Sometimes it's all you've got.

Self-trust - Believe in yourself. Trust your intuition. Understand that your idea, your vision, or your product is needed in the world. True innovation can't exist without self-trust. Innovation requires us to leap into the unknown. Unless you trust, you won't leap.

Vision - This is your ability to establish the big picture of what you want, and pursue it. It's closely tied with passion. Have a BIG vision. It's much easier to scale back a grand vision than it is to amp up a small one. Big visions are based in passion and generate enormous energy.

Passion - If you're not passionate about your idea or vision, what's the point of pursuing it?

Human resources - Any successful entrepreneur will tell that she didn't do it alone. She drew on the experts she needed to build her business. She also developed and maintained a group of people who continued to believe in her when she forgot to believe in herself. This is crucial.

Risk taking - The tolerance and ability to take risks is paramount for any entrepreneur. We don't get guarantees in advance, as much as we'd like them. Sometimes not taking a risk is the biggest risk of all.

Openness to change - Many people resist change. As entrepreneurs, we must embrace it. By putting a vision, idea or innovation out into the world, we expand what's possible, and in doing so, change the status quo.

Recognition of self-sabotage - We all do it. At some point in time, we've all sabotaged ourselves out of fear. The key to dealing with self-sabotage is to recognize it. Signals to recognizing self-sabotage: You notice yourself comparing yourself to others, you judge yourself as not being good enough, or you hear your "inner critic" saying things like "soon everyone will realize what a fraud you are."

Head and Heart - To make sound decisions, you need both. When we only listen to one, we list to the side and veer off course, the way a car does when it's out of alignment and you let go of the steering wheel. Often there's a misconception that heart, or emotion, doesn't belong in business. It very much does. Your ability to be aware of and use your emotions effectively will aid in your success.

Honoring your gifts - I'm convinced that fully acknowledging your gifts - to yourself, first and foremost - will catapult your business and your life into bold new arenas. Here's why: When you don't acknowledge your gift of, for example, building businesses or innovating new technologies, you hold back from full self expression. When you don't acknowledge your gifts, you can't capitalize on your innate human resources. YOU are your business' most valuable resource. Honor what you don't do well - In fact, know it well and compensate for it. Too often, I hear people beat themselves over the head with statements like, 'Well, I should do my own bookkeeping" when the last time they balanced their checkbook was 1978. Know your weaknesses. Compensate for them by hiring or bartering or getting someone to do the task for you.

Each one of us carries these tools around with us at all times. The question is whether we tap into them or not. Entrepreneurship is a process of self-discovery. At the same time that you introduce a new product or process into the world, you uncover new awareness about yourself. Use these tools to not only grow your business, but yourself.

About the Author

Coach and author Claudette Rowley helps entrepreneurs harness their potential and soar to new heights of prosperity and fulfillment. Contact her today for a free coaching session at 781-676-5633 or Sign up for her free newsletter "Insights for Savvy Entrepreneurs" at


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