Startups have long been the driving force behind technological development and innovation.
With the democratization of the startup field and the tech “boom” that led to more and more entrepreneurs taking the leap of faith and pursuing their ideas, applying for accelerators and incubators, or pursuing self-funding in attempts to jump start young and small companies around the world.
And one thing that has been dubbed the “key to success” as the tech innovation trend grew was the set of hard skills — traditional academic training and technical education — that account for the prosperity, competitiveness and growth of any product or service thriving for a secured spot in the market.
And no doubt, behind any well-executed tool is a mastermind and an expert in software engineering, hardware engineering, and business development that will account for a premium quality of the product or service that will provide true value to users.
However, something that gets overlooked very often — and even discredited — is the importance of the soft skills that go into building a successful startup. And this is a skill that is harder to develop through traditional, academic methods that drive the development of “hard” skills and expertise.
The truth is, in order to establish a startup ready to scale and grow in the long-term, a combination of 3 key elements is required to drive the young company towards success: Passion, Optimism and Visualization — or, in other words, POV.
Here is a step-by-step plan of action that can help understand the priority level of soft skills in making a startup idea a reality.
1. You need to visualize what you want to do and where you want to go.
A startup founder isn’t simply an expert who can craft a product masterfully. An entrepreneur is also a visionary that needs to be able to visualize the path and the future of the startup — where it is headed, what the goal is, and how the startup can get to that point in the future. So the first step towards establishing a successful startup is painting clear mental images of where you want the company to go and what value you hope to offer your customers.
In a way, a startup needs to be regarded as a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you believe it, it will happen. Just like any other self-fulfilling prophecy, entrepreneurs need to predict the future success of their undertaking, and as all the steps young startup founders take gradually align to make the prediction come true, this firm belief in the startup’s success will come true.
On a subconscious level, this firm and genuine belief in success will ultimately impact the actions that will bring the startup to fulfillment.
What’s more important — and even more overlooked — is also being able to communicate the clear vision to future users, sponsors, etc. in order to convince them of the same beliefs that you hold. In a lot of cases, being able to create the startup using hard skills and knowledge is not simply enough; but it is the power of soft skills that allow to contagiously spread the trust and confidence in the startup’s value among others in order to pave the way towards success.
2. You need to believe that the glass is half full.
Obviously, there is a great distinction between optimism and naïveté.
It is one thing to blindly believe in the worth and future success of the company while disregarding major drawbacks, constructive criticism and obstacles on the way.
But it’s a whole other deal to maintain a positive attitude when searching for smart and efficient ways to overcome these obstacles on the way towards success.
In a world where, unfortunately, most startups end up failing, it’s important to stay optimistic in your entrepreneurial endeavors against the slim, meager odds in your favor. And the truth is, today, a startup’s success or failure is largely determined by purely financial factors, such as funding, cash flow, investments, and profit/loss.
Money is important. But it’s not the sole motivator fueling success. Instead, what helps through economic hardship and keeps the spirits of the team members up is hope. Hope that the startup will succeed and grow big. That people will recognize the value of the idea behind the young company.
3. You need to love what you do.
Optimism is important in keeping motivation levels high and inspiring harder work. But no entrepreneur will be able to stay optimistic and inspire others if they do not love what they fight for.
There is a difference between assuming it’s the smart choice to pursue a startup that is more likely to generate revenue and the commitment to experimenting with something you love to create value for others while benefiting financially.
Building a startup is in many ways like raising a child: it’s a big commitment, and you will be in it for the long run. So it’s important to devote your personal time and energy to something that you care and feel passionate about.
Passion is also what makes any entrepreneur authentic in the eyes of future investors and users: a contagious enthusiasm is what transforms others into firm believers into your own idea, brings the startup team together like a glue, and fuels the optimism that encourages to work through times of hardship and complications.
Written by Gary Fowler, Co-Founder & CEO of GSDVS
Originally published on Medium