Some people see entrepreneurs as leaders. Others see them as inventors. Still others see them as salespeople, or as general businesspeople. But very few people see entrepreneurs as writers.
On the surface, writing and entrepreneurship seem like completely unrelated concepts. Sure, you’ll do some writing as an entrepreneur, like in any professional position, but it’s not fundamentally necessary to become a successful business owner. Or is it?
I’d like to submit that all entrepreneurs have a role as a writer, or at the very least that they can benefit from writing regularly. Why?
1. It’s an essential skill.
In 2015, users exchanged more than 205 billion emails, and that number is set to increase at a relatively consistent rate for the foreseeable future. No matter how much you’d like to rely on in-person meetings or phone calls, the majority of your communication is going to happen through writing. Knowing how to write effectively can improve the efficiency of your exchanges -- not to mention your persuasiveness, approachability and the amount of respect you can command. Writing is a necessary business skill these days, and the more you engage in it, in any context, the better you’ll be at it.
2. Writing forces you to slow your thoughts.
Speaking, for most of us, comes naturally. Though some of us are more skilled at holding a conversation than others, most of us let the words spill out of us without much forethought. Writing is different. You have to consider every word before you put it to the page or screen. This functions as a kind of slow-motion for your thought process, giving you the chance to catch yourself in faulty logic or find better wording for an abstract idea. It lets you pick through your brain with more precision and ultimately gives you a more polished final product.
3. Writing makes you consider your audience.
When you’re writing something like a business plan or a sales proposal, or even a memo to your team, you’re forced to consider your audience. It takes some practice to do this -- and some manual effort when you start -- but once you pick up this habit, you’ll start thinking of your audiences naturally. You’ll become better at adjusting your behaviors and actions, and even your strategies, as you get to know your audiences better. Sometimes, a simple change in phrasing or pacing can shape your perspectives toward a specific set of demographics.
4. Improved writing leads to improved speech.
Writing and conversation are two separate, but related, skills. Because both draw upon the language centers of our brains, improving one generally helps us improve the other. But because conversation often happens quickly and thoughtlessly, it’s more common and natural for writing to influence our conversational abilities than for our conversations to influence our writing. In short, the more you write, the better you’ll be able to converse. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be conversing with everyone -- from mentors and partners to clients and employees. It’s an indispensable skill you can sharpen simultaneously.
Related: Learn to Write, for God's Sake
5. Writing helps you see your ideas from an outside perspective.
Something about putting words on a page or screen makes them more tangible. It takes ideas from the abstract and immeasurable ether of your mind and makes them more formal and more objective. Because most of our ideas are born of uncontrollable biases and the limitations of our own perspectives, this gives us a critical opportunity. When we re-read what we wrote (presumably at a later time), suddenly we can see our ideas from an outsider’s perspective, at least to an extent. This can help you find the flaws in your ideas, or at least see your thoughts in a different light.
6. Most writing demands research.
It’s no secret that reading new information is valuable. Most experts and successful people will tell you to make time to read something new every day. Yet most of us don’t make that time, and never develop this crucial habit for developing new perspectives and new ideas. When you write something formal -- not just a simple email -- you’re almost forced to do some research to back up your opinions. The more you write, the more you’ll force yourself to call upon external sources. The more you read, and the more information you’ll be able to absorb.
7. Thoughtful writing makes you more concise.
When you take the time to sit down and write something, you don’t have the ability to ramble. Each keystroke (or stroke of your pen) takes effort, and when you’re done, you’ll have to read over what you wrote. Do this enough times, and you’ll naturally train yourself to be more concise. You’ll leave out the clutter and the fluff that ordinarily populates our conversations. In time, you’ll start cutting out the clutter thoughts that infest your mind, and you’ll start thinking more conciselyand writing more concisely. In every area, this is a form of higher efficiency, and you’ll perform better as an entrepreneur as a result.