Persuasion: Key ingredient to successful entrepreneurship

Having the power to convince is essential in the competitive world of start-ups and the following pointers may give you a head start

Group of diverse business people talking in a meeting. Business team smiling during a meeting. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Group of diverse business people talking in a meeting. Business team smiling during a meeting. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you will want to learn how to be persuasive. Being persuasive allows you to get new clients and investors, as well as convince potentially valuable employees to come work for you. If you have never thought of yourself as persuasive or convincing, there are skills you can learn and develop. You just need to do them consistently.

  • Listen actively

The first step toward being persuasive is not talking, but listening. When you are talking to someone, put away your phone and give them your full attention. Let them finish their sentences and their thoughts. This kind of attention gives the idea that you are genuinely interested in what the speaker has to say and that you respect them enough to give your full attention. This can lead to reciprocation, which can help you push your agenda.

  • Nurture your curiosity

The funny thing about being persuasive is that it is as much about the world around you as it is about yourself. The most successful entrepreneurs are also curious. They want to learn more about the world and the people in it.

Applying this curiosity is simple. Ask questions; find out what people want, what they have been doing and what they want to achieve. Knowing the answers will help you persuade them and allow you to tailor your arguments and stories within their specific context.

Curiosity cannot be faked; you must nurture and develop it if you are not naturally curious. Forcing it or faking it can make your questions seem trite and phony, and your pitch will be sunk the moment they think you are lying to them.

  • Develop your self-confidence

Successful entrepreneurs are confident. Every day they make decisions that will not only affect their start-up and the product, but the lives and futures of those connected to the project. They must be sure of each decision they make and be able to stand by it.

You need that same confidence when you are trying to show people how much you believe in the product and its potential profitability. Use facts and figures to support your case as well as build up your confidence.

  • Learn to speak properly

It is possible that you have never felt the need to speak well. You mumble every now and then, but your friends and employees understand what you are talking about. But many of the people you will want to persuade will not have the same experience with your speech patterns.

Record your voice and listen to it; note which words or letters you tend to skip or mumble, and develop your enunciation. Learn to pace your speaking in such a way that it emphasises important points. Being able to speak clearly allows you to deliver your point in an effective manner and makes you more persuasive. 

  • Address the concerns of the listener

Being persuasive is more often about the listener than the speaker. Whatever the entrepreneur's agenda is, their aim is to make the listener believe that their concerns will be addressed. If you can make them believe that you are looking out for their best interests, or that your needs and wants coincide with theirs, you will often find other people more open to your ideas and suggestions.

Resist the temptation to spend the entire conversation trying to push your agenda. A big part of it revolves around making both you and your ideas more palatable, and people are more likely to be receptive to someone helpful, someone who makes them feel heard. Don’t just brush away their concerns. Explore their problems and find the root of their issues. Help them see how your business answers those concerns.

You need to learn to be persuasive if you want to become a successful entrepreneur. Don't just formulate arguments; listen to people and think about what they want. Consider the context of the listener. Always remember: persuasion is less about you and more about the people listening to you.

Note: This article was originally published on Accelerate SME and it has been republished on Zawya with full copyright permission.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. The content does not provide tax, legal or investment advice or opinion regarding the suitability, value or profitability of any particular security, portfolio or investment strategy. Read our full disclaimer policy here.

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