1. Admit it. The most difficult person to be honest with is usually yourself. Sit down and take a candid look at your own skills and successes to date. Take note of where you are uncomfortable or haven’t performed well. Perhaps your strength is the technology, not finance. Or, you might be great in the “big picture” but struggle with the details. In any case just remember, be honest. It’s in your own best interest.
2. Write it down. Don’t just think about where you should be stronger. Write it down. The paper you write this on may never see the light of day but physically writing this out gives you a chance to admit, accept and start mapping out a plan. A plan should empower you to form strong dynamic teams of people that can get things done, all while you flourish at what you most likely enjoy and do best.
3. Surround yourself. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to networks. The key thing is the quality, not the quantity. However, start with what you have: friends; co-workers; classmates; and build from there. Connect with them through entrepreneur meetups or even one-on-one over coffee. Be prepared to “give” as much, if not more, than you “get” – people don’t like those that just “get.” Identify people that you trust whose strengths complement your skills. Take a mental inventory for people’s skills, where they are strong and where they are weak. That way, as you look to build your team, you know who can do what roles better than anyone.
4. Take feedback. Criticism is always constructive, if that is how you choose to see it. After recognizing that you have weaknesses, accepting feedback is probably the second most difficult part of this process. Make sure you surround yourself with people who you trust and who will honestly say “this is good or this is bad” without tiptoeing on your feelings. Listen to what they say and, while being honest with yourself, decide what you should do about it. As you go about this, assess whether you should personally make a change, whether you should add to your network and/or team, or if you should simply internalize this person’s feedback. Sometimes, feedback from others can be as much a reflection on them as perhaps it might be on you. Consider all the facets and make the decision for how you best move forward as you work to achieve your goals.
5. Keep yourself in check. Recognizing your weaknesses is not a one and done process. You want to continually be re-evaluating yourself and your team. Objectives and goals often change with startups and with that, individual skills are sometimes on target and other times, not so much. Be mindful of those changes and don’t lose sight of the weaknesses because someone else, likely the competition, will be watching.