Before you continue reading, I want to start by saying that I recognize this topic might seem a little “out there.” But bear with me, I promise it’s not.
As an entrepreneur, you are guided by research, data, facts and advice from mentors. But what about your instincts? This natural ability can help you uncover valuable information that otherwise may go unnoticed.
Intuition, also known as your “gut feeling,” is the ability to know something without logical reasoning. You may have a physical reaction such as gut pain, or an emotional reaction such as feeling doubtful, suspicious or uneasy and you just can’t put your finger on why. This feeling represents your instincts knowing something before your brain can rationally understand it.
However, intuition doesn’t need to go against logic. Rather, using both could lead to the best business decisions.
If you think intuition is at odds with intelligence, read this interview excerpt with one of the smartest people in history, Albert Einstein.
Einstein: I believe in intuitions and inspirations. I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know that I am. When two expeditions of scientists, financed by the Royal Academy, went forth to test my theory of relativity, I was convinced that their conclusions would tally with my hypothesis. I was not surprised when the eclipse of May 29, 1919, confirmed my intuitions. I would have been surprised if I had been wrong.
George Sylvester Viereck: Then you trust more to your imagination than to your knowledge?
Einstein: I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
If you’re still not convinced, take it from three other successful entrepreneurs:
- “Often you have to rely on intuition.” – Bill Gates
- “In the same way that I tend to make up my mind about people within thirty seconds of meeting them, I also make up my mind about whether a business proposal excites me within about thirty seconds of looking at it. I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.” – Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way.
- “I think intuition is what you can pick up between the lines,” Barbara Corcoran told Kelsey Humphreys on an episode of The Pursuit. “If you are naturally intuitive to some degree, you can get really good at it by paying attention.”
These entrepreneurs aren’t crazy. There’s even some research to back up their beliefs. A 2010 study suggested that successful entrepreneurs are more intuitive in their cognitive style. Other researchers have suggested that training employees to think intuitively could improve a small firm’s performance.
Benefits of Being Business Intuitive
When you hone your intuition, you are able to better understand how people are thinking and feeling. You don’t want to be a psychologist, so why would this matter? During any business interaction such as a meeting, sales pitch or even networking, you are able to communicate better with people because you understand what many others don’t. You have the advantage of picking up on subtleties such as a person’s body language, reactions or tone of voice. This can help you determine a client’s wants or what a person needs to feel comfortable doing a business deal. Intuition will make this come naturally to you and others will leave the business situation feeling a sense of connection to you.
Uncover the “Hidden Factors”
Before making a business decision, you look at the research, data and all relevant information. While all of this information is obviously very important, it won’t provide you with the “hidden” information; only your instinct will. Using logic alongside your intuition will make you the most informed.
Intuition can help guide you through the many decisions you need to make as an entrepreneur: Who should I hire? Is this a good business deal? Which marketing message will be more effective?
When you feel divided or unsure of a decision, using your natural instinct will help you decipher right from wrong. It can also help you feel the difference between smart risks and bad risks.
How to Be an Intuitive Entrepreneur
Step 1: Be Present to Notice Intuition
When you’re focused on NOW, you can tune into how your body is reacting. Is your stomach turning? Do you tense up thinking about a business deal?
Taking a moment can also make your thoughts become clearer. Do you feel optimistic or uneasy? Do you feel that the person is being honest or are you suspicious?
Clearing your mind will rid you of negative thoughts so you can ensure it’s your intuition speaking and not just your anxiety or fear of success. You will be able to better understand the truth of the situation, rather than trying to justify your uneasiness.
Taking a few moments during the day to just breathe will help. You can do this by taking a walk or simply taking a couple deep breaths inside a bathroom stall, away from the workplace noise. Meditation is also a very useful practice for getting in tune with your intuition. You can try a YouTube meditation like the one below:
Step 2: Listen to Your Intuition
Once you have learned to tune in and identify your “gut feeling,” you need to actually listen to it. This part can be difficult because we will often try to justify why we feel a certain way, dismissing our intuition. When our instinct is telling us something we don’t like, we often ignore it and hope for the best.
You may have experienced this before:
- The person you felt was bad news off the bat, but you continued with them anyways
- The client you knew would be difficult, but you signed a contract regardless
- The business deal you had a weird feeling about but was too good to turn down
- The business idea you felt strongly about (even though everyone discouraged you) is now someone else’s success
While intuition can help you identify the bad and tell you when to put on the breaks, it can also alert you of the good opportunities. For example, if the people in your circle are saying that idea X will fail, your intuition may correctly tell you that it will be successful and that you should pursue it.
Bottom line: When your gut tells you something is right or wrong, you can trust it!