Why an Entrepreneur Should Listen More Than They Speak

Listening is one of the most underrated skills for an entrepreneur.

Few years ago I attended a training at IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland. The first exercise we did was to pair up with someone we didn't know and listen to them for 5 minutes. We were not allowed to speak, only to listen. Then we had to introduce our partner to the rest of the group.

This was an hard exercise!

When you are in a conversation, most of the time you are thinking about what you are going to say next. You are not really listening to the other person. You are just waiting for your turn to speak.

As an entrepreneur, that's a big mistake.

Why is listening important for an entrepreneur?

Actively listening allows you to focus on the conversation happening, either with your team, your customers or your partners. It helps you to understand the other person's perspective, their needs and their pain points.

When you listen, you are able to:

  • Understand your customers better: You can identify their needs and pain points, and create a product that solves their problems.
  • Build better relationships: When you listen to someone, you show them that you care about what they have to say. This helps to build trust and rapport.
  • Make better decisions: By listening to different perspectives, you can make more informed decisions.

How to listen better

Here are some tips to help you become a better listener:

  1. Be present: Put away your phone, close your laptop and focus on the conversation.
  2. Maintain eye contact: This shows the other person that you are engaged in the conversation.
  3. Ask questions: This shows that you are interested in what the other person has to say → be careful with this one, you don't want to interrupt the other person nor think about what you are going to ask next while you are listening.
  4. Reflect back: Repeat back what the other person has said to show that you have understood.
  5. Don't interrupt: Let the other person finish speaking before you respond.

How to have a listening mindset

Listening is not just about hearing what the other person is saying. It's about being open to new ideas and perspectives. Here are some ways to develop a listening mindset:

  1. Be curious: Approach every conversation with a sense of curiosity. Ask questions and be open to learning something new.
  2. Be empathetic: Try to see things from the other person's perspective. This will help you to understand their needs and motivations.
  3. Be humble: Recognize that you don't have all the answers. Be open to feedback and willing to learn from others.
  4. Be patient: Sometimes it takes time for people to open up. Be patient and give them the space to share their thoughts.


Listening is a skill that can be developed with practice. As an entrepreneur, it's important to listen more than you speak. By actively listening to your customers, your team and your partners, you can build better relationships, make better decisions and create products that solve real problems.

Think about this on your next conversation:

Are you really listening or just waiting for your turn to speak?

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