“We only see what we know” said once Goethe.
In entrepreneurial terms we do often the same. But, even more important we do often “listen only to what we like”. And, if we do, the chance of remaining what we are or, even worse, to fail, is very high.
Listening is entrepreneur’s very first friend, because is a powerful way of processing ideas, intuitions, emotions. Seeing sometimes can be immediate but also misleading, whereas listening can’t. It involves time and patience.
In conducting business, you’ll be busy with almost constant change management and with lots of people pretending their expectations to be taken into consideration by your business model. Both of these processes don’t involve at first speaking/pitching, but (apparently) the contrary: developing a deep listening attitude.
There are so many obstacles between a normal and an outstanding listening skill.
Many entrepreneurs and managers see their potential stakeholder like a mere on-demand moral support and reconfirmation service: as not so careful listeners they “download” from their words and messages only what they like and assume that counts as a reconfirmations of the ideas they already have.
More difficult, challenging and useful is being ready to analyse and listen even to those facts and consideration that at a first sight clearly contradict their own theories, being also prepared to change perspective for a while in observing reality.
So if as a human being and an entrepreneur you may learn to switch perspective and use for a while somebody else’s eye, your listening skills and techiniques instead are probably what more deeply personal and unique there is in your own identity. Nobody can listen the way you do nor you can ever do it in somebody else’s way. Therefore is so important and can make the difference for your startup project
Skilled listening, is a way of generating and testing new business ideas: it means in facts being able to pay attention to phenomena, eliminating background noise, and get the essential feedbacks from stakeholders, summarizing the content of their word. Mirroring, but in a creative way. (Then probably the better firms are the ones that are able not to mirror but to match, compensate and sometimes even counteract stakeholder messages, but that request time and starts anyway from a good listening phase)
In the end, that’s what a business plan represents: an entrepreneur is someone that find an original way of listening and then of creatively paraphrasing customers’ messages and statements in a way that both sound inspiring and reassuring.
“What is essential is invisible to the eye”…but most of the times it can be well perceived by the ears!