As Ferris Bueller once pondered, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”. And it’s true.
Life does indeed move pretty fast and the world is in a constant state of flux. However, what Bueller didn’t take into account is that in the world of business, you seldom have time to stop and look around.
In a cut-throat industry, it’s extremely easy to get left behind and entrepreneurs have to constantly evolve and grow in order to stay relevant and successful.
Make no mistake about it, running your own business can be a thankless task and it’s advisable to get as many people onside as possible.
With this in mind, we’ve looked at the skills you need to establish and maintain business relationships and how playing poker can help you grow as an entrepreneur.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains a cult classic some 30 years after its release
The Difficulties of Entrepreneurship
It’s no secret that starting up your own business is hard work but what is the most difficult aspect of being an entrepreneur? In truth, this is wholly dependent on who you ask.
Some will cite the cash flow problems associated with getting your business off the ground, while others may cite the pressure associated with making all the key decisions at the helm.
However, what most business people will agree on is that possessing good soft skills is vital when it comes to being self-employed. And yet, those outsides of the business loop may not even be aware of the term.
In a nutshell, soft skill is an all-encompassing term which covers social skills, communication and general people skills. Generally, soft skills aren’t taught in business schools and although it’s possible to improve and brush up on them, you tend to either have them or you don’t.
However, these skills are a vital tool in the armoury of any entrepreneur and can positively affect relationships with customers, employees and vendors.
Essential Soft Skills for Successful Entrepreneurs
While there’s no such thing as a useless soft skill in the business sphere, some soft skills are more essential than others in order to grow and develop as an entrepreneur.
Perhaps the most vital soft skill in the entrepreneurial world is communication.
How many times have you constructed a great idea in your head, only for people to stare at you blankly when you’ve tried explaining it to them?
Being able to effectively extract an idea from your brain and communicate it to other people is vital when building and maintaining business relationships. When other people understand you properly, they are more likely to buy into your vision.
When starting up or running your own business, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. In reality, there’s more than enough time to get everything done if you’re willing to work hard enough; you just need to manage your time more effectively.
Creating a timetable and having the discipline to stick to it will make sure that you’re on time to meet clients and can maximize your workload. Ultimately, it could make your business a success.
Sometimes, no matter how meticulously you plan, things will still go wrong and the sooner you accept this, the easier it will be to overcome. Flexibility is a key soft skill for entrepreneurs because very few things are cut and dry in the business world.
Customers may change their mind or suppliers may want to alter the terms of your agreement or time of delivery. While standing your ground on these issues is also important, being flexible enough to accommodate change will help build better relationships and prove that you are the real deal when it comes to running your own business.
How Poker Can Help You Improve Your Soft Skills
When all is said and done, the game of poker requires you to make the right decisions with very limited information, which is precisely what you must do when starting up your own business.
In fact, the skills required to be successful in both poker and entrepreneurship overlap more than you think, especially in terms of soft skills. Flexibility certainly applies as much in poker as it does in business. The turning over of the river or flop in no limits Texas hold’em can scupper even the most experienced poker players and the ability to change tact at the drop of a hat cannot be understated.
In addition to this, patience is also key in both disciplines. Unless you’re an avid watcher of top-level poker tournaments, you probably won’t realize that the best players in the world play less than 15% of the hands they’re dealt.
In both poker and the business world, timing is everything – having a good product doesn’t guarantee you success and if the market (or table) isn’t ready for what you’ve got then there’s a good chance you will go out of business (or lose your chips).
In a similar fashion, bluffing is also as important in the world of business as it is in the game of poker.
After all, why waste months of effort on an idea before you know whether or not people are interested?
There’s nothing wrong with exaggerating every now and again in order to determine whether there is sufficient market demand for your product.
Unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to learn the hard way and take a few losses before perfecting your patience skills.
However, with a number of online poker platforms now running regular tournaments, you can hone your soft skills by playing popular variants such as 7 Card Stud, Omaha Hi-Lo and Texas hold’em before transferring them into your professional life.
Poker players and entrepreneurs are both striving for the same thing – success.
Make no mistake about it, the business world is tough and it takes a serious skill set in order to be able to compete within it. Starting up your own business is hard and those who have never gone on their own are often unaware of the risks and pressures that come with it.
In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you need all the help you can get and the skills which you acquire from playing poker and other strategy games can certainly help you in all facets of entrepreneurial life.
Much like the game of poker, you will come across opponents who are both stronger and weaker than you, will have to make decisions without “holding all the cards” and will be faced with situations laced with uncertainty and devoid of clear-cut answers.
Stripped back to their purest forms, both entrepreneurship and poker are about winning and being successful. With this in mind, it’s little surprise that the soft skills you acquire by playing poker are also relevant within the business world.
So, next time you’re stuck for something to do on a Friday evening, skip the movies and opt for a game of Texas Hold’em.