Coaching Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are a special breed, and they need you. Here’s proof:

A rigorous 2020 meta-analytical study found that both IQ and EQ are essential for entrepreneurial success. But the review found that EQ’s impact is twice that of IQ’s impact, a finding that surprised even me. To be clear, IQ still matters for these special people to be successful. As they say, you can’t fix stupid. But EQ skills are even more impactful. Double, in fact.

Let’s get the science out of the way. The authors of this meta-analysis looked at 6,919 studies that might be able to shed light on the relative weight of IQ and EQ in entrepreneurial success. Using strict criteria, they winnowed that number down to 40 studies that could add valid insights. These 40 studies combined to provide 65,826 “observations” (think subjects). Quite a large sample size! And the authors’ statistical analysis was exacting.

Now let’s consider some relevant questions:

Who are entrepreneurs?

Oxford Languages says an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.” Merriam Webster says an entrepreneur is “A person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.”

That’s a start. Now begin to think about who you know who is an entrepreneur. I suggest that you use a broad view of these definitions to accurately identify potential entrepreneur clients. Bill Gates was an entrepreneur when he started Microsoft. Joe the plumber is an entrepreneur if he started his own plumbing business. A farmer in Mozambique may be an entrepreneur. You are an entrepreneur if you own or run your own coaching business. Identify potential clients by looking around your community and network to see who you might now define as an entrepreneur.

What makes EQ so important to entrepreneurs?

Think about what entrepreneurs have to be able to do to be successful.

  • Entrepreneurs take on a lot of risk. Risk generates anxiety. Anxiety management is essential. Without it, budding entrepreneurs will either flee or become cognitively overwhelmed, unable to use their IQ effectively.
  • Entrepreneurs must be excited, but not too excited, about their ideas, lest they create a business plan that exceeds reality. In other words, they need to manage their emotions and have a good sense of reality.
  • Entrepreneurs have to avoid becoming too discouraged when problems come up, and they will. Reality based optimism is essential, and feeds the resilience that enables the entrepreneur to overcome obstacles and keep going.
  • Entrepreneurs must be able to form lasting relationships with investors, suppliers, and customers.
  • Successful entrepreneurs need to be aware of their own emotions, and how those emotions impact their thinking and behavior. In other words, they need good emotional self-awareness. Otherwise, they may get into the wrong business for the wrong reasons. Interestingly, for many entrepreneurs, profit, while important, is not their biggest driver. Rather, their intrinsic values lead them to start businesses that give them a chance to live those values, forgoing work that might make them more money. Perhaps that is true for many of you. Such values provide motivation that gets entrepreneurs through the hard times.


How Can You Help Entrepreneurs through Coaching? As you can see from the five points made above, specific EQ skills are important for entrepreneurial success. Your role can be to help your entrepreneurial clients build those EQ skills that may not be strong enough to sustain their efforts. Here is a sampling of things you might do as their coach:

  • Ask them questions that will help them assess their self-knowledge: “How come you want to start this particular business?” “How does it align with your goals and values?” “What do you see in yourself that makes you believe you can be successful doing this?”
  • Ask them questions about how well they read people: “What have you seen in your potential customers that tells you that they will buy your product or service?” Remind them that it isn’t whether potential customers need their products or services. It is whether they know that they have a need. Ask: “If they don’t know, what would help them know?” Remind them that such insights will be important if they are going to attract the sustained interest of potential customers. They will also be essential in negotiating win/win outcomes. Then offer: “Let’s look at your observations together.”
  • Ask them: “Who are going to be the key people in your business network? How will you go about building sustainable relationships with those people? Likewise, who are your potential customers? How will you build relationships with them?”
  • Ask them “How well do you manage stress? You don’t want to build a business that will destroy you emotionally. Is this an area we should work on?”
  • Ask them: “Tell me about setbacks you have experienced in your life and how you overcame them. Is resilience (optimism) a strength of yours, or shall we help you build that muscle?”
  • Ask them: “How would you describe your assertiveness skills? You will need them in negotiating with investors, suppliers, and customers.

Now that I’ve whetted your thinking with these examples, my guess is that you will be able to think of many additional questions. Go through each of the sixteen skills measured by the Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 to get additional ideas. Then consider going to our website to get the one hundred ninety six exercises for building EQ skills. Those exercises will be helpful to you and your client as well, giving you many more ideas. The EQ Shoppe – EQ Leader, Inc.

We need entrepreneurs, and they need you.

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