Juggling multiple business ventures is not for the faint of heart.
One venture is challenging enough; when you’re sitting in the captain’s chair, it’s always possible for all your time to get sucked into managing individual initiatives. Introduce another venture into the equation, and you run the risk of getting overwhelmed and giving neither one the attention it deserves.
Resolving this equation goes way beyond effective time management.
It starts with a well-developed emotional intelligence quotient, or EQ.
EQ is a relatively recent concept, first introduced following research published in 1990. By now, it’s a well-established concept in the corporate world, having been supported by decades-long research projects that have tied EQ to career success: UC Berkeley researchers demonstrated that EQ was 400% more powerful than IQ in predicting fruitful careers. It’s crucial for any employee at any level, but its importance is magnified when handling more than one venture.
Why EQ is key to managing multiple business ventures
- It helps you make decisions both quickly and rationally. Two core components of EQ are self-awareness and self-regulation: the ability to both recognize and manage your emotions. Making decisions in heightened emotional moments rarely leads to a good outcome. Leaders who understand and can negotiate their emotions make better strategic decisions.
Running multiple businesses naturally gives rise to stress. In busy moments, it may seem like you don’t have enough time for anything, and you may grow anxious in response. The high-EQ business owner knows to view that anxiety as fuel for greater focus—not impulsive, knee-jerk decisions.
- It helps you set expectations—for yourself and others. Beyond managing your own emotions, a mark of high EQ is understanding and managing other people’s emotions. Not telling them what to feel, but actually feeling what they’re feeling (i.e., empathizing) and moderating your actions accordingly.
Understanding your employees’ emotions gives you crucial data about what they need, when they need it. As a result, you can schedule your time, allocate your energy, and prioritize specific business objectives in a more targeted way.
- It helps you build (and motivate) the right team. No one running multiple businesses can do it completely alone. While many entrepreneurs start out as lone wolves committed to a vision, they inevitably face the need to delegate certain elements of day-to-day work. When this need arises, building the right team is the dividing line between survival and failure.
A common characteristic of leaders with high EQ is that they’re motivated not by the material outcomes of their jobs, but by the inherent satisfaction of doing it well. That is, they work from intrinsic, not extrinsic, motivation. The roots of intrinsic motivation run much deeper than those of extrinsic motivation; intrinsic motivation is defined by self-respect as defined by one’s impact on the world around them.
This kind of motivation is contagious. It attracts people who are similarly motivated, and it inspires intrinsic motivation in those who might otherwise just view their jobs as money-makers. It also makes it more likely that you’ll pick a venture for the right reasons—for rewards both passionate and financial.
- It makes you a better listener. A truly artful listener is a rare—and powerful—thing. There’s very little in our world which encourages good listening; more often, we’re prompted to express our own opinions, share our own stories, make it all about ourselves.
Good listening benefits leaders on both micro- and macro-levels. On the micro-level, it enables you to better understand (and therefore better manage) workplace dynamics. On a macro-level, it enables you to situate yourself within an accurate view of market conditions, and make strategic and tactical decisions appropriately.
For people running multiple ventures, I almost interpret IQ as a given. Raw intelligence is something we’re encouraged to develop from our earliest days of schooling; EQ is not as openly acknowledged. EQ is a multi-purpose weapon for leaders looking to compartmentalize, prioritize, engage, and inspire.