Journalists have the potential to be very successful entrepreneurs.
We've known quite a few former journalists who have excelled in building and running their own businesses. Our theory is that journalistic skills translate well to entrepreneurship.
In fact, here are six journalist traits that translate nicely into very powerful entrepreneurial traits:
- A Good Sense For What's Interesting - Good journalists must be in tune with their audience. If a story or a segment is not of interest to the audience, a good journalist will know not to pursue the story. This empathy for what's interesting to people makes it easier for journalists to transition into entrepreneurship, where they again must avoid spending time on products or services that will not be in demand from prospective customers.
- Ability to Be a Quick Study - Good journalists are able to quickly become an expert on topics, without having to spend too much time doing so. They are able to rapidly absorb the essentials of any issue and be conversant in the subject. In the world of entrepreneurship, this is an essential skill. You never have time to get all the facts, so you have be a quick study. As such, journalists gain some valuable entrepreneurial skills long before they open up shop as entrepreneurs.
- Ability to Work Under Pressure - The life of a journalist is a life of deadlines. If you don't produce, you perish. This leads to a mentality that is obsessively focused on efficiency: how can I get the best product done in the least amount of time? This translates well into the world of entrepreneurship. You need to hit your deadlines and you cannot overinvest your scarcest resource – time – in any single task.
- An Ego That Accepts Constructive Criticism - Journalists work in a field in which their outputs are critiqued by editors. A journalist who is not willing to take constructive criticism from an editor will not last long. This ability to take criticism or feedback and transform it into a better output is, as it turns out, also an essential entrepreneurial skill.
- An Inherent Advantage When It Comes to Promotion - If you are an entrepreneur-journalist who attended a top journalism program, getting good PR placements should be a slam-dunk. Call up your journalism classmates and tell them what you are doing and they will likely do the story just for old time's sake. It helps if the story is somewhat newsworthy of course. The bottomline? Former journalists turned entrepreneurs will have an advantage over your average entrepreneur.
- Great Communication Skills - So much of what we do in life is powered by good communication skills, and entrepreneurship is no exception. An entrepreneur who previously worked as a journalist should have no problem cranking out brochure copy or website copy and doing so in a way that is well-crafted and compelling. This ability to communicate well is invaluable for all entrepreneurs, and it's another skill advantage that should be a no-brainer for most journalists who decide to start a business of their own.
So, there you have it. If you want to become an entrepreneur, feel free to first spend some time in the world of journalism. You'll do just fine.
If you're a casualty of recent upheavals in the journalism profession, it may be time to do something on your own. Go forward with confidence. You've got what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.