When I say lethal, I mean it in a positive way.
For me, curiosity is the third most important trait of an entrepreneur, right after optimism and persistence.
I find that people are scared of curious people, which is usually perceived as a weakness in an organization. By asking questions, being critical, and challenging preconceived notions, the typical portrayal is of someone being in attack mode – meaning, something wrong.
Curiosity comes naturally to us, starting from our early childhood. As a kid, you ask tons of questions because you want to know how the world works, explore it, and venture further with each step.
When you grow up, you begin to understand the concept of free will, and you become strong enough to shut down anxiety and troubles before they shut you down – by being curious.
The point is that curiosity can be harnessed to improve your entrepreneurial acuity. This is particularly valid because:
Curiosity maintains relevance
Being inquisitive is one of those intangible traits that you simply have to exhibit to unlock more value. It’s how you get to learn, innovate, and improve yourself and your team.
It’s also how you stay relevant.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the tech landscape, which constantly keeps changing. Today’s knowledge tends to quickly become secondary as there’s always something new that you have to learn.
To be fair, that’s probably true for most landscapes. Successful entrepreneurs constantly look for more information so if you’re good at thinking on your feet and you’re genuinely curious about what you do, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve.
Plus, curiosity can minimize the ever-present risks of running a business by identifying unplanned issues and dangers. You can never know what interesting and new ways of doing things you may uncover.
Curiosity boosts creativity and innovation
There is no such thing as an innovative idea. Ideas are recycled and improved upon so that there is something that creates value, whether it’s a novel execution of the idea or not. In entrepreneurship, tweaking and pivoting to make a solution better is the bread and butter.
When most people think of innovation, they tend to think of people who are making money from executing innovative ideas: the Elon Musks and Bill Gates’ of the world.
But the rule of thumb is that the person who made the innovation is usually the person who didn’t make the money. The person who took that innovation and made it cheaper, more convenient, faster, and whatnot – that’s the person who makes the money.
So, curiosity channels out-of-the-box thinking to take an idea and make it better as the foundation and most of the framework is already there.
At the same time, the more things you know, the more of them you can combine to become creative and innovative.
Look no further than when starting a business. In the beginning, you’re everything and everyone. You’re managing, handling accounting, marketing, legal stuff, and a whole bunch of things on top of whatever technology you’re trying to leverage.
That’s why I believe an entrepreneur needs width, not depth.
For me, a great entrepreneur is a jack of all trades: someone who possesses a little more than a superficial understanding of everything needed for a business to succeed. They make use of their knowledge to solve problems and help the team get better.
This directly leads to:
Curiosity helps you lead and manage
When you have a decent knowledge of a lot of different things, it helps you on the leadership and management side. You can combine your empathy with your know-how to step into other people’s shoes and understand even just a little bit about what’s happening and how you can help integrate them. Plus, no one respects a leader/manager who doesn’t know squat about something.
A curious person doesn’t have a problem understanding what someone else needs. Curiosity is a neat way of managing internal politics as it allows you to fill in the gaps. You can operate on a macro level because you can see the entire picture and not just a fragment of it. As a result, you can be more agile.
For instance, I’m a big believer in leaning on employees’ strengths instead of working on their weaknesses. Research shows that employees feel more confident, self-aware, and productive that way. In turn, this leads to higher engagement, increased performance, and significantly lower attrition rates. But you wouldn’t know about any of it if you weren’t eager to know or learn.
Now that I’ve made the transition to the investing side of the entrepreneurial journey, I find that entrepreneurs with have a certain level of experience in business (regardless of the industry and if they failed or succeeded) have a big advantage over their peers simply because they were exposed to different kinds of dynamics, infrastructure, and people.
Such a background can help make them pretty good leaders, which ultimately makes them better entrepreneurs.
Fostering curiosity can be an entrepreneur’s massive advantage because it negates the fear of failure. We need it to be fully engaged with the world around us so we can leverage the most out of it.
Nobody knows better than entrepreneurs that success can only be achieved when risks are taken.
As you attempt to uncover what works and what doesn’t, being curious allows you to absorb surprises, especially the nasty ones, along the way. Those who are curious are willing to embrace failure and use it as a basis for learning.
After all, a failure is only a failure if you don’t learn from it.