As strengths coaches, we know we get more by focusing on what is already within someone than on what is lacking. There is no dream sequence of themes or combination of talents that magically predicts success. This notion is true no matter the challenge. As a coach of entrepreneurs, I have discovered this reality first-hand. It is not our specific talents that make us successful, but how we use those talents in our business ventures. I work closely with two entrepreneurs, April McCrumb and John McDonald. Both have experienced phenomenal growth, received multiple awards and are highly regarded in their home states. To better understand how their talents led them to success, let's take a closer look at their unique profiles.
The startup race isn't always won by the swift. The slow and steady strategy was adopted by April McCrumb. In 2000, she and her husband, Steve, opened Catching Fireflies in downtown Berkley, Michigan, to sell April's handmade paper products. It did really well, and they added an online business and opened a second store in a nearby town … then a third, and eventually a fourth. April and Steve have adapted their business models as buying habits changed, but stay true to their mission of "making days brighter." For nine years in a row, they've won the esteemed Hour Detroit award for best gift shop. They have doubled their seven-figure gross sales since 2008.
CliftonStrengths Top 5: Achiever, Responsibility, Adaptability, Ideation and Self-Assurance. She is confident, works hard, can adapt to the needs of the moment, likes things done right and is creative.
BP10: Determination, Confidence, Creative Thinker, Business Focus, Independent, Risk-Taker, Knowledge-Seeker, Relationship-Builder, Promoter and Delegator. Her husband, Steve, is the businessman (and Business Focus is No. 1 on his BP10 profile). April focuses on new designs, managing a strong social media presence and she lets her team of 20+ run the stores and build products.
What does success look like? April replied, "I ask myself, 'What kind of story do I want to have?' and that serves as my compass." She and Steve have hosted foreign exchange high school students and recently adopted a baby -- all while growing their companies. Her story is a good story, and it's still evolving. (Do you hear April's Adaptability and Responsibility in her vision of success?)
Being around John McDonald is like being around Halley's comet. He is a visionary -- a smarty-pants on steroids. When he speaks about the future, it's like a king holding court. John sees things on the horizon that the rest of us don't. His company, CloudOne, offers a platform for organizations engaging in the "Internet of Things," delivering technology to the likes of Chrysler, McDonald's, Whole Foods Market and Hilton Hotels. He's received millions of dollars in venture capital funding. Everything about CloudOne is high octane, and it is invigorating. I've conducted CliftonStrengths training with their entire team to drive engagement and performance. CloudOne is Indiana's fastest growing tech company, an IBM Beacon Award winner, and it just recently received the coveted Red Herring Top 100 award. CloudOne has grown by more than 100% every year for the past five years.
CliftonStrengths Top 5: Strategic, Connectedness, Achiever, Belief and Ideation. John is connecting the dots, believes everything happens for a reason, is driven, has a very strong value system and is creative.
BP10: Delegator, Creative Thinker, Determination, Relationship-Builder, Knowledge-Seeker, Risk-Taker, Independent, Business Focus, Confidence and Promoter. John is comfortable delegating to his team of 35+ folks and operates in the stratosphere of, "What if…" He holds court to build relationships and share knowledge, is metrics driven and is clearly a risk-taker.
What does success look like? "When you look at the mottos that drive companies," said John, "I never found one I really liked. They are vague. Apple's is 'Think Different.' I say, 'And then what?' Success for me is creating a culture where people feel like they are doing the best work that they can, that they are part of something bigger than themselves, and the people around them are acting with the highest degree of integrity. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself." (Do you hear John's Belief, Strategic and Connectedness strengths in that vision?)
What do these two entrepreneurs have in common? On the surface, not much. But there are important similarities between the two. They both know what success looks like for them, and they leverage their strengths, and the strengths of their teams, to achieve it.
The Builder Profile 10
As you can see from these two profiles, BP10 (formerly EP10) offers insight into your entrepreneurial talents as compared with the talents of the most successful entrepreneurs. There are three levels of talent: Dominant (world-class), Contributing (requires effort) and Supporting (seek partners). Very few people are dominant in all 10 talents. BP10 and CliftonStrengths work well together, but are not simply two sides of the same coin. BP10 describes what an entrepreneur must do in order to succeed; the CliftonStrengths results show us how they will do it.
Guess how many of April's BP10 talents are dominant? None. If you looked at her BP10 report, you might not recognize a great entrepreneur with a huge, loyal customer base who uses her strengths, surrounds herself with great people and invests in her team. As a coach, I support her "slow burn" business strategy, because it honors her view of the world. It would be unproductive to tell her she had to take big risks to drive success. It's not the story she wants to tell. Her story is perfect the way it is.
John, on the other hand, has eight dominant BP10 talents. His results reflect how he has launched his tech company. As a coach, I help him continue to grow, lean on his leadership team and I suggest "maintenance stops" to make sure the whole organization remains engaged and connected to his vision of success.
What I love about both CliftonStrengths and BP10 is that they help me leverage my clients' talents to make their dreams come true. And as a coach, this is my ideal picture of success. John is a comet zooming through the business world. April is a slow and steady business builder. If every startup was a comet, imagine the chaos. If every startup was a slow burn, the market would hunger for faster change. We need to identify and encourage both approaches to entrepreneurial success, because they bring balance. Every startup's journey is different, and each deserves a strengths coach who can honor their unique view of success and deliver CliftonStrengths and BP10 knowledge to support them!
Maureen Electa Monte's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Strategic, Learner, Achiever and Individualization. Maureen's BP10 Talents are Knowledge-Seeker, Determination, Creative Thinker and Confidence, Relationship-Builder, Independent, Risk-Taker, Promoter, Delegator and Business Focus.