When you think of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, “vulnerable” probably isn’t the first word that springs to mind. You probably think of these people as adaptable, cunning, flexible, powerful, and innovative, but vulnerable? Yes, actually. Vulnerability is a surprisingly effective trait that entrepreneurs use in ways that you might not expect.

TAKING RISKS MAKES YOU VULNERABLE

First of all, consider the risks you’ve taken to start a business so far and the ones you expect to take in the future. Though these risks are calculated and you are more likely to succeed than fail when you execute them properly, each one of them represents a time when you have been (or will be) vulnerable.

Quitting your job makes you vulnerable because you no longer have the security of receiving a paycheck every two weeks. And you make yourself vulnerable when you stand in front of investors and pitch the idea you’ve been working so hard on, not knowing whether they’ll see any value in it.

When you understand and embrace this idea, you’ll see that all of the best ideas and innovations in the world have come from a place of vulnerability. They’ve all happened because someone stood up—not knowing if they were going to be praised, laughed at, or completely disregarded—and said, “I have an idea.”

FOSTERING CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION IN THE WORKPLACE

Knowing this, you can create an environment in which it’s okay to take risks and to be vulnerable. Consider what happens if your employees know that they can come to you with their ideas and concerns, and that you’ll listen to them with respect. They’re going to be a lot more likely to let you know when they have an idea to improve a crucial process for your business, which could be the key to better profits and more sustainability.

Fostering the kind of environment in which people can feel safe to be vulnerable gives your employees the freedom to think outside the box and do more for your business. If they see something that’s not working quite right, they’re going to let you know because they won’t be afraid of your reaction.

SHOWING VULNERABILITY OFTEN RESULTS IN SIGNIFICANT REWARDS

Vulnerability can also help you when you meet with investors and potential clients and partners, as well. These people have seen a lot of different ideas for businesses and products to improve people’s lives, innovate on old ideas, and much more. Sometimes, it’s not the idea they’re interested in so much as the person behind the idea.

When you open up and tell people about why you’re starting your business, what drives you, what scares you, and what you’re passionate about, you may be surprised at the response you get. Instead of rolling their eyes or walking away, a lot of the people you meet will have a similar story. As a result, you’ll get an emotional exchange and a deeper understanding of each other.

Having that exchange with an investor could convince them to take a risk on your business. Experiencing that exchange with an employee could motivate them to go above and beyond for you because they understand where you’re coming from and they know that their success is tied to yours.

The world has changed a great deal over the past couple of decades, and people are seeing more and more that vulnerability is much more a strength than a weakness. If you can show how you’re vulnerable and foster a positive environment where it’s okay to take risks and to be vulnerable, then you’ll be on track to build a successful business in the twenty-first century.

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