One of the most counterintuitive traits that can hurt entrepreneurs is smarts.
Yes, the more successful you are and the more talents you have, the harder it is to run a business.
While you may think that being smart, motivated, and talented would logically make someone the best possible candidate for entrepreneurship, unfortunately, this is often not the case.
The “I’m better than everyone at every task” challenge
The smart-people problem starts back in school when the dreaded “group projects” are first assigned. Knowing the 80/20 rule for work (80% of all work is done by 20% of the people), what do you think happens in every group project? The smartest and most talented people in each group decide that they are going to do the lion’s share of the work.
They don’t want to risk their grade in the class by dividing the work equally and hoping that Timmy (the guy who is absent from class two days a week on average and sleeps through class on the other three days) does his part well, if he remembers to do it at all. In school, there isn’t any benefit in trying to get Timmy up to speed quickly. Forget that — the smart people just take over and do the whole project themselves.
And thus begins the smart-people work cycle. The smartest people do just about everything better than most everyone else. They write better, plan better, and reason better. They are better, until it comes to running a business. Then, they are not better; they are screwed.
There are only 24 hours in each day and a person does need to sleep, eat, shower, and do certain other things. So, each day, this smart person tries to do everything himself, because he can’t stand someone else doing a job badly. Then, he is stuck with the one-man band “job-business” and ends up not being able to grow.
Why slackers can reign supreme as entrepreneurs
It is interesting, but actually, some of the slackers are better suited for entrepreneurship than the “smart” people. Why? They figured out early on to surround themselves with smart people who would do the work. They know how to delegate and, sometimes, how to manipulate other people into doing things that they don’t want to do.
You’re only as smart as you can automate
Ideally, smart people would just be able to convey their talents to others. But since the smart people are so used to doing everything themselves, they don’t learn the key skills for making their business successful, including automating and delegating as many tasks as possible. As a smart person, you need to use your smarts and talents to boil down their essence in an easy-to-follow format that anyone can replicate.
Too smart for your own good
Smart and talented people also often have a flair for the unusual, complicated, or different. They don’t like to follow the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid), which is required to make a business succeed.
If you think of the assembly line in a fantastic manufacturing plant or the global presence of McDonald’s, they both seem complex, but in reality, they are a series of incredibly simple functions. Every single task is broken down into easy-to-follow steps. The assembly line worker repeatedly performs a few tasks that are specifically defined. So does the McDonald’s cook, cashier, and drive-thru order taker. There is little input from these individuals, as everything has been standardized for them.