This post by Neil Patel was originally found at http://www.quicksprout.com/2015/03/04/10-fun-exercises-that-will-help-you-become-a-better-entrepreneur/
When I first started out as an entrepreneur, I lacked many skills. I wasn’t able to think on my feet; I wasn’t good at sales; and I was a terrible networker. And the list goes on…
What do you think I did? Quit?
Of course not! Instead, I developed the necessary skills. How? I created 10 unique exercises that helped me build those skills.
Here are 10 exercises that will help you succeed as an entrepreneur:
Exercise #1: Use random words within sales calls
When it comes to sales, you have to learn how to think on your feet. You can’t predict what people are going to ask, so you have to learn how to think fast.
To learn how to think on the spot, you should start doing sales calls with a friend or a co-worker listening in. All you have to do is put your phone on speaker and have your friend or colleague give you random words to say in your next sentence.
For example, I was on a sales call the other day, and my friend told me to use the word “suntan” and “sandwich” in the next sentence. I ended up telling the potential client…
With your expertise and my marketing knowledge, we’ll end up crushing it so much that we’ll be sitting on the beach within the next 6 months, getting a suntan, drinking beers, and eating sandwiches.
You might find this game difficult at first, but it gets easier over time. It also helps stimulate your creativity and can help build your confidence when doing sales.
Exercise #2: Find 5 facts
Do your research before any business meeting or phone call. Focus not only on the company but also on the individual. It might be the companies who write checks, but it is individuals within the organization who make the decisions.
You can find out a lot about individuals by performing a few Google searches and using tools like Rapportive. These days, it’s really easy to do this because of social media—people’s lives are public.
Getting to know someone within the company is important since people prefer to do business with people who are like them. With a bit of research, you can increase your odds of closing a deal.
It also never hurts to learn how to become a good researcher. As an entrepreneur, you won’t always have the answers, so you’ll need to learn how to find them through research.
Exercise #3: Do something embarrassing in public
Fear is something that holds a lot of us back. In business and in life, you probably care what other people think about you. For this reason, you likely fear doing anything that could embarrass you or cause others to judge you.
One way to get around this is to do something embarrassing in public. One such example is to lie down on the sidewalk with barely any clothes on for 10 minutes.
Sure, you may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but you’ll eventually get used to it.
By doing something embarrassing on a weekly basis, you’ll start to care less what others think of you. Eventually, this will also apply to your entrepreneurial life, and you will start to do whatever it takes to succeed (assuming you aren’t doing anything unethical).
The last thing you want is for fear and emotion to hold you back from success.
Exercise #4: Read the news every day
Find a few news sites that you like, and read them each day. From BBC to CNN, there is no shortage of news sources from which to choose. By reading these sites each day, you will develop a good working knowledge of current events.
Why is this important?
Here are 2 good reasons to read the news daily:
- Current events affect businesses – if something big is happening in the world, it can affect your business in a negative or positive way. For this reason, you should keep current. For instance, a friend of mine has a gun business. He noticed that every time there is a high school shooting, his sales skyrocket. Any kind of shooting is horrible, but he needs to know when they happen so he doesn’t attribute the increased sales to his marketing efforts.
- People talk about the world – when you are attending business meetings or networking functions, others will likely bring up current events. If you stay up-to-date, people will see that you are knowledgeable and smart, and it will also help you stay engaged in the conversation.
Exercise #5: Learn your numbers
When I speak with new entrepreneurs, do you know what many of them tend to forget? Their numbers. From what things cost to how much they charge to their profit margins, most new entrepreneurs tend to forget their business numbers.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll have customers and clients who will put you on the spot. They will ask you questions such as:
- How much do you charge?
- How long will it take to see results?
- How many customers do you have?
These may seem like simple questions—and indeed they are—but many entrepreneurs tend to freeze on the spot and forget or simply not know the answers.
If you can’t answer these simple questions, how skilled can you be at your job?
At least that’s what people you are speaking to might think about you. Lacking a good answer shows that you are inexperienced and might not be worth working with.
Study your numbers, memorize them, and know them like the back of your hand. Doing this will help you understand your business more clearly and show you where you need to fine-tune it in order to grow it faster.
Exercise #6: Have fun
Whether it’s partying, attending fun events, or simply hanging out with friends, you need to learn how to have fun.
Think back to the time when you were a kid… You enjoyed life, right? You goofed around, laughed, and created great memories with your friends.
Adults tend to forget how to have fun. All we think about is work—but this will ultimately hurt you in business. It will cause you to burn out, and it will lead to lost revenue.
How? you might ask.
Over the years, I’ve learned that providing a good product or service isn’t enough. Some people will do business only if they get along with everyone involved. You need to learn how to entertain others and show them a good time.
The fun doesn’t have to be expensive; it can be as simple as doing a mud run with a small group of people. Whatever you do, make sure you are having fun. It can have a big impact on the number of clients you’ll end up closing.
Exercise #7: Stop judging people
Who likes being judged? I know I don’t…
You shouldn’t judge others. As long as someone isn’t doing anything unethical, let them live their life. If they are happy, you should be happy for them.
When you start judging others, you’ll notice that you’ll start to shut doors that could have been potential business partnerships, and you’ll also start creating enemies for no reason.
So, how can you stop judging other people?
Every time someone does something that would normally cause you to judge them, just say to yourself, “I’m not going to judge them.” I know this sounds silly, but it really works. After a while, you’ll stop judging people.
Exercise #8: Cut out the bullshit
I don’t care if you are the world’s best bullshitter… People hate it. Stop beating around the bush, and get to the point.
The next time you are hanging out with friends or colleagues, get to the point. Of course, you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings by being too direct, but you need to get to the point when it comes to business-related matters.
When others—co-workers or potential customers—start bullshitting, try to cut them off and get to the point for them. You don’t want to call them out, but eventually they’ll figure out that they should cut to the chase.
Not everyone will like it, but many will end up respecting you for it. It also shows how confident you are, and you’ll start gaining some new deals as a result.
Exercise #9: Hold a silly conversation for 30 minutes
Have you ever tried to hold a conversation on a silly topic for 30 minutes? Heck, it can be hard to sustain a 30-minute conversation even on a sensible topic!
I want you to start going out to lounges, restaurants, bars, or any other public places where you can meet random people that you likely wouldn’t do business with.
Go up to random people, and strike up conversations on useless or silly topics. Try to sustain the conversation for at least 30 minutes. If you start noticing that the other person’s interest in the conversation is dying down, end it and move on to the next target.
It will be hard to last for 5 minutes at first, but eventually you’ll get to the 30-minute mark.
Why should you do this? It will teach you conversational skills. From being entertaining to capturing your audience’s attention, conversation is a required skill in business. Without it, you won’t get much done.
Exercise #10: What was she wearing and doing?
Memorization is important. If you forget little details, how will you remember the important ones?
As a kid, I didn’t have the best memory, but now I remember almost everything. How? My friends and I have been playing a game that helps.
Every time we go out, we pick random women, and after the event, we quiz each other on what they were wearing and doing. The reason we pick women is because it’s more difficult to remember what they are wearing. With men, it’s typically jeans and a t-shirt, so even if you aren’t paying attention, you can usually get it right by guessing.
Start studying the people around you, and pay attention to each detail—from their clothing to their actions and body language. In doing so, you’ll train yourself to remember more information.
This exercise has helped me remember all the important details concerning my company. I no longer have to take notes or keep track of what’s important…it’s all stored within my brain.
When you start out as an entrepreneur, you will lack many of the skills needed to succeed. So, what should you do? Rather than quit, try to learn the skills you need.
Developing these skills doesn’t have to be boring like reading textbooks. You can learn them through fun exercises like the ones mentioned above. These strategies have worked well for me as well as a few of my friends, so why not give them a shot?