Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise” but, in truth, an entrepreneur is much more. An entrepreneur is a go-getter: someone who is unafraid to take on greater risk to achieve their goals or accomplish the mission. Entrepreneurs solve problems, drive innovation and inspire change. The challenges and obstacles entrepreneurs face are not simple ones; they’re complex, and they require the ability to, as Mohammed Ali said, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” In other words, in order to bring new ideas to life and inspire others to do the same, entrepreneurs should be able to move gracefully through the business world.
Moving gracefully as an entrepreneur may sound difficult; after all, entrepreneurs need to be intentional, direct and productive to be successful. So just how can we, as entrepreneurs, bridge the gap between behaving with grace and generosity in business and being straightforward, productive and successful entrepreneurs? And before you ask, yes, it can be done.
The Intentional Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are known for their drive and passion, which continually propels them forward through obstacles and setbacks along the way as they focus intently on their goals. Intentionality is among the popular buzzwords trending at the moment, but how does intention peacefully coexist with gracefulness in business? Gracefulness represents refinement and tact, while intentionality is often calculated and definitely purposeful. The good news is that intentionality is not necessarily calculated in the negative sense. It’s about determination to meet the mission, objective or goal. It involves being authentic, boosting your strengths and believing in yourself and your products or services—and that goes hand in hand with traversing the business world gracefully. An intentional entrepreneur should always undertake their business with poise as they choose those with whom they want to work, spend their time judiciously, connect consciously and focus on their goals single-mindedly.
Being Direct With Poise
Directness is another powerful characteristic that I’ve found to be common among the world’s entrepreneurs, but if we don’t practice it with grace, others can perceive directness as rudeness or condescension. If you do it well, being direct can save you both time and money in your quest for entrepreneurial success. If you do it poorly, being direct loses its advantage and can become offensive, disrespectful and costly. You can learn the practice of being direct with poise and gracefulness; it’s all about the approach. If you have the need to confront someone in your organization or someone with whom you regularly do business, it is best to gather all the information you can before you make your direct approach. The more you know about the person with whom you are speaking, the usefulness of what you are about to say, and how you’ll word your approach, the better and more productive the outcome will be. Directness should not put the other person on the offensive but should rather address the problem with a positive outcome in mind.
Entrepreneurs are busy people who, without intentional productivity, are likely to have trouble achieving entrepreneurial success. You have to make decisions on the fly, research, innovate and network on a daily basis, so how can you encourage genuine productivity, avoid distractions and still gracefully move toward business success? Balance and routine are great starting points, but productivity for productivity’s sake will only keep you busy. You’re not likely to get anything accomplished, gracefully or otherwise. Routines can help you prioritize the events you anticipate in your day so your valuable time (and everyone else’s) is not wasted. While gracefully navigating the business world, intentional productivity allows you to ensure everything you do is aligned with your core values and beliefs so you are continually progressing toward your goals. Doing so will enable you to further prioritize your time and continue to grow and learn, thus increasing true productivity with poise and not panic when challenges arise.
The Entrepreneurial Warrior
Moving gracefully through the business world as an entrepreneur is an art that requires balance between grace, generosity, intentionality and productivity. Entrepreneurial warriors like you want to change the world for the better, and doing so requires a journey of discovery filled with challenges and solutions. As you face each new entrepreneurial challenge, you should be adaptable and flexible, as well as direct and decisive, but should also add a measure of kindness and generosity as you deal with people from all walks of life. Entrepreneurs should take the necessary actions and meet risks head-on to ensure their intentional productivity aligns with their core values and allows them to live in “beta” so they’re always improving. In turn, business success should follow as they become aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and traverse the business world gracefully—not only as successful entrepreneurs but also as great humans.