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Entrepreneurship Isn’t About Knowledge, It’s About Attention

One of the afflictions of the western world is this idea that we have to “know” stuff. In fact, suggesting that you don’t have to understand things in precise detail is almost blasphemous. Everything we do must be evidence-based and consistent with the rules of science.  However, businesspeople know that this approach to company leadership […]

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One of the afflictions of the western world is this idea that we have to “know” stuff. In fact, suggesting that you don’t have to understand things in precise detail is almost blasphemous. Everything we do must be evidence-based and consistent with the rules of science. 

However, businesspeople know that this approach to company leadership is stifling and impractical. While there are underlying laws and rules governing reality, things get complicated very quickly. And analysing everything and anything just isn’t possible after a while, even with big data. 

Traditionally, commentators talked about great entrepreneurs’ “gut instinct” – some mysterious system that they had that allowed them to always make the right decisions. But, you could more accurately call this the ability to pay attention. Entrepreneurs aren’t interested in endlessly analysing the world – they’re too busy living in it and trying to “feel it out.”

If you’re an intellectual type of person, this will sound like blasphemy to you. All decisions should be based on rational appraisal of the evidence. But, as we said before, the real world is just too messy. Nobody can make predictions about the direction a business will go using data already collected. If they could, then there would be a lot of wealth investors out there doing it. And to the best of our knowledge, nobody’s cracked that code yet. 

How to pay attention

So, as an entrepreneur, how do you transition from an analytical frame of mind to an attention-based frame of mind? Take a look at the following ideas. 

Feel your business from your customers’ perspective

Putting yourself in the shoes of your customers and actually becoming one of them can be a great way to use the power of attention to figure out what they want. You could spend weeks doing sophisticated statistical analysis, ironing out the variables. Or you could just use your powers of intuition – a massive shortcut. 

Sweat the details

Big picture thinking is great in some applications, but it’s not the only way to build a killer business. Little details like registering an address on http://physicaladdress.com or adding special offers to your email sign-up newsletter can make all the difference. Customers want something that makes your business feel special and unique. It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. 

Enhance your own energy

The best way to select quality people for your organization is to enhance your own energies and state of mind. The more you’re able to unlock your own powers of attention, the more details you’ll be able to observe in others. After a while, you’ll be able to read most people like a book and instantly see how they’ll complement the rest of your team. 

Learn to let go

Ultimately, life is about taking risks. You can never make things safe. So, in business, it’s a great idea to let go and just see what happens. If you have a good idea, run with it. Don’t be afraid. If it feels right, then it probably is. 

 

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