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The Power of Requests and Questions: How Asking Makes You a Successful Entrepreneur

The Power of Requests and Questions: How Asking Makes You a Successful Entrepreneur

A key attribute of a successful entrepreneur is his ability to make a request or ask questions. Even though this may seem like an obvious distinction, many entrepreneurs underestimate the power of asking.

The consequences of not asking can affect the progress of your entrepreneurial venture. Many entrepreneurs are still stuck in this notion of trying to become successful without asking for help. Unfortunately for them, they will struggle to get out of square one.

Successful entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates all owe their fortunes to their ability of making requests and asking the right questions. They all know the power of asking has helped them achieved their goals; their accomplishment were not carried out by themselves alone.

The power of asking will serve you greatly on your path towards entrepreneurial success. If you need further convincing, here are seven benefits of making requests and asking questions.

1. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

No one will know what you want if you don’t ask. It is as simple as that.

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A major obstacle that many entrepreneurs face when they ask someone is the feeling of shyness and intimidation. You will be pleased to know that every successful entrepreneur was in the same boat before they made their first request.

A good way to overcome shyness or intimidation is to remember there is no harm in asking. The worst that can happen when you ask someone is that they will say “no.”

2. You save time.

You can save a lot of time by asking for help. Many successful entrepreneurs will agree with this benefit.

In 1969, a young Sir Richard Branson was arrested and spent a night in jail for smuggling a stack of vinyl records through British customs. He did this to avoid paying taxes. Fortunately for Sir Richard, the officials did not press any charges against him. In his autobiography, Branson wrote that after being released from jail, he learned a valuable lesson in asking people for help. If Branson had asked someone for advice on how to pay less taxes through a legal route, he would not have wasted so much time travelling and smuggling records into the country.

In order for you to save time, make a list of key tasks within your project that you are not fully comfortable in completing. It is important that you are honest with yourself when you make this list. Then ask the relevant people in your network on how to complete those tasks without wasting so much time.

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3. You get better at negotiating.

Not everyone is going to comply to your request, but the power of asking will help to improve your negotiations skills. You can improve your negotiation skills by adding a favor in return of your request. For example, if you are a website designer and you ask a caterer for their services at a discounted rate, you can add in a favor of developing their website at a discounted rate.

4. You build better professional relations.

It helps to understand both your colleagues and collaborative partners in the long-run. By establishing strong professional relations, your collaborative projects will be completed on time. You can build strong relations by asking your colleagues about their work habits and their strengths. Using this valuable information, you can develop a plan that can work around their unique traits.

5. You build strong customer relations.

An entrepreneur cannot succeed without his customers. Successful entrepreneurs know the true value of understanding their customers by simply asking them. Regularly interacting with your customers can reveal what is really in demand in your segment of the market. Thanks to social media, you can easily interact with your customers and retrieve feedback straight away.

6. Asking gives you a competitive edge over non-askers.

There is an old saying that many entrepreneurs still believe in and it goes:

“The world belongs to the takers.”

The above quote is far from the truth. The world of entrepreneurship and business really belongs to  “askers.”

A majority of entrepreneurs don’t take the time in making requests or asking questions. They settle for what is given to them. But you should use this to your advantage; entrepreneurs who are not afraid to ask will get what they want and they don’t settle for anything less. Be different; put yourself out there.

7. You get out of your comfort zone.

This is a big benefit. The power of asking can get you out of your comfort zone. It encourages you to interact with different people and helps you overcome any feeling of shyness/intimidation. The more people you interact with, the more requests you can make.

How to prepare yourself to make requests or ask questions.

The benefits written above show that entrepreneurs who ask around will progress much further on life. To help you start preparing your requests and questions, here are a few handy tips.

1. Know what you want.

This is key. If you don’t know what you want, then you will not know what to ask. It is as simple as that. To know what you want, get a pen and paper and write down your main entrepreneurial objectives. Then write a list of suitable questions and requests that will help you achieve your objective. Ensure your questions and requests are politely worded; a “please” and a “thank you” can go a long way.

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2. Find out who to ask and where to find them.

Only certain people will be able to comply to your request or question. If your request or question is about web design, then you need to ask a web developer/designer. A key tip to help you find the right person is knowing where they congregate. People who share a similar skill will congregate together often, usually at networking events or online forums. Do some research on these networking events and online forums, then take necessary action.

3. Go out and ask.

Mastering the power of asking takes trial and error. It is crucial to maintain a positive mindset when you start asking around. If you have experienced a string of rejections, use this an opportunity to review your questions/requests and see how they can be improved. Asking is a skill, it takes practice to master it.

Featured photo credit: Roo Reynolds via farm3.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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