Why thinkinging like an engineer will make you a better entrepreneur

Do you know what most of the top billionaires have in common?

At times, 70% of the top 10 richest people in the world? 

It’s not that they worked harder than everyone else. It’s not that the all lived in Silicon Valley. It’s not even that they risked it all.

It’s that they’re fundamentally engineers.

Before they were even entrepreneurs, before they even made any money, they were software or hardware builders, computer scientists, civil and chemical engineers.

Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Carlos Slim, James Dyson, Larry Page, even Bernard Arnault of LVMH.

And of course Steve Jobs. 

Oh, let’s not forget Elon Musk. 

Now, before you start sweating that you need to get an engineering degree, or convulsing that you can only be successful if you are into coding and algorithms, this is not my point. 

You don’t need to be an engineer to be successful (though it clearly helps), but you do need to think like one.

Or at least it will give you a huge advantage in building wealth & a meaningful start- or scale-up business. Here’s why: 

Engineers know that to build something, you have to solve a series of problems. They know there is no rainbow at the end. They know that the perfect solution never comes easy.

Engineers know that the reward for solving a problem is the next one. A bigger one. A deeper, harder and longer one.

Engineers know that the software is never finished. That the algorithm is infinite. That version 17.0 is just the start of a journey towards completion, and that perfection does not exist.

And they embrace the paradox of striving and driving for perfection and completion, knowing it’s unattainable. 

A coder or engineer often approaches problems with enthusiasm. And if not a passion for solving problems, at least an enjoyment of the journey towards them. At least a balanced perspective and neutral emotions towards problems. No, solutions. No, opportunities.

And this is what entrepreneurs, start ups and business owners can learn and think like. This engineering approach to solving problems.  A logical approach, with a series of tests to solve it. No over-reactions, just consistent actions. 

Manage your emotions, master your life. 

But, and this is a BIG but…

Thinking like an engineer won’t build a company. It won’t make a billion-dollar unicorn. It won’t even build a small lifestyle business. 

You need to sell like an entrepreneur to do build and grow a real business.

Think like an engineer, but sell like an entrepreneur. 

Gates, Jobs, Musk, Zuckerberg, they figured this out along their journey. They couldn’t sell initially; they could build.

But ‘build it and they will come’ died a long time ago. You have to ‘build it and go and bloody get them all’. 

Selling is a learned skill, not a born trait. And you’re not just selling a product, you’re selling a solution and a story. A message and a mission. 

Engineers designed and built the iPod. Steve Jobs coined ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’ that sold the product and the idea to the masses. 

Joe Girard holds the world record for most cars sold in a year. 1,425. Chevrolet engineered them, Joe sold them. 

Build it, then sell it. Or build it and get someone great at selling to sell it.

Manage your own emotions, but create great emotions in other peopled.

Think like an engineer, sell like an entrepreneur.

If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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