The Entrepreneur's Secret Weapon

Every other week, my wife hosts a Coworking Wednesday in her makerspace. And every time, I’m amazed by the sheer variety of disciplines that show up.

This week, we were joined by an illustrator, a professional podcaster, the owner/editor of a culinary magazine, a romance novelist, a restaurant owner, a professional photographer, and a record producer.

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Across such a diverse pool, you’d expect to find a disparate set of skillsets and talents. And while I’m sure that we wouldn’t do very well if we trade places, I’m not sure the success of anyone in that group rises and falls on their actual skillsets.

Instead, it all depends on your drive. The skills don’t matter.

Before you light your torches and dig your pitchforks out of storage, I don’t mean to say that a creative professional’s skills are useless.

A professional photographer needs to be able to take good photos. A restaurateur can’t get away with not knowing how to price a menu.

But all of those skills can be learned.

My wife’s success is a perfect example. A lot of our business comes through various art classes. We offer classes in a number of mediums, from painting to woodworking to stained glass.

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She’s always been a talented painter, but she’s ended up teaching a lot of art forms that she’s learned since opening the shop. Shen ever intended to teach the stained glass class. But when she couldn’t find anyone else to step in, she watched some YouTube videos and taught herself.

Today, stained glass is one of our most popular classes. It sells out every time we offer it.

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Another friend of ours used to be an event coordinator for a community center. He hadn’t spent much time honing his creative skills. But, he loved his city.

A couple years ago, he got an Instagram account and got hooked on photography. He read up on what makes a great picture. He spent a few hundred dollars on a camera.

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This past fall, he quit his job to run a website documenting the beauty of our hometown.

He had barely touched a camera before a couple years ago. Now, he runs a photography blog for a living.

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Because again, all of those skills can be learned.

Too often, we confuse aptitude with talent. We think that if we don’t have a natural inclination toward something, it’s just not in the cards.

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But nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve watched complete beginners pick up the guitar and learn how to write songs. I’ve watched people take classes in our shop and use those skills to to start their own businesses.

But the one thing that can’t be taught is drive.

I’ve also seen a fair amount of business owners slack their way through craft shows and art fairs and Etsy shops. There’s no denying their talent. But they lack the motivation necessary to sustain their businesses in the long-term.

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Before you know it, they’re back at Whole Foods, making sure the freezers are stocked with organic, vegan ice cream.

On the other hand, you might have always wanted to quit your job to pursue your passions, but you’ve felt like you’re not good enough. There are more talented writers or painters or musicians out there. What have you got to offer?

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But if you have the hustle, the hunger, and the drive to do what needs to be done, don’t worry about the rest. You can learn that as you go.

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