Play to your strengths

By: Chris Barling

Date: 16 November 2011

Cricketer{{}}This is my third blog in a handful of months that is essentially about people issues in a start-up, but I make no apology for that. I will, however, admit that a few years ago, before I had actually started a business, I was a sceptic on this subject. But that was then, this is now.

If you are to be successful in a start-up, you need some self-confidence. If you don’t think you’ve got it, you won’t succeed. This is however, different from being like an X Factor contestant who believes he or she has a world-beating singing voice but sounds like an animal in pain. To be successful, you also have to be realistic and understand the balance of risks you are taking. Understanding your strengths – and playing to them – is part of that equation.

But how do you understand your strengths? Here I must recommend the book Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath published by Gallup. I also suggest you take the online test that comes free with it. In my 30 years in businesses large and small, I’ve come across numerous tests, but this one is the best of all.

For a couple of my strengths, it says I should partner with someone who has particular complementary strengths. My first business partner had these strengths and our company, SellerDeck, reached the FTSE 350 within four years of starting out. My latest business partner also has these strengths, so hopefully watch this space.

The abilities of the founders are by far the most important factor in a start-up situation. Get these right and you’re well on your way to success. Enjoy the ride.