I want to speak on something different from the normal entrepreneur characteristics that people often quote as necessary to be an effective entrepreneur.

You always hear the same old same old characteristics, such as determination, or perseverance. optimism, etc.

And it is. Not that’s these entrepreneur characteristics aren’t good to have, they are.

But the constant pedalization of them is kind of getting old.

They’ve become cliche, overdone, old news, or a thousand other platitudes.

These characteristics are played out because I have seen entrepreneurs without these characteristics succeed, and entrepreneurs with these characteristics fail.

These characteristics do not guarantee success.

Above all, an entrepreneur learns how to read the tea leaves.

They learn how to read what a significant amount of people might need, want or desire  while taking into account the cost, energy, limitations on providing for it.

Most entrepreneurship failures result from not learning how to read these signs.

It’s easy to do.

As an entrepreneur you might have an idea that you think will change the world, or at least help a lot of people.

You’re excited, you’re enthused, you’re disciplined.

But your venture still failed. Why?

Were you not disciplined enough?

Did you not preserve enough?

Were you not daring or brave enough?

You were all these things, but you failed to read the tea leaves.

I’ll give an example, what makes Warren Buffet so great as a business person (and Charlie Munger) is that he is able to read the tea leaves.

He has an almost uncanny ability to understand the value of a company, and how it relates to the overall market around it.

I’m not saying reading the tea leaves means knowing how to play the stock market, though it could help.

I’m saying understanding the core business offering of your business, and how it relates to your overall market is the characteristics that an entrepreneur must-have

It trumps all the other entrepreneur characteristics.

You can have discipline, you can have all the education in the world, you can be determined and willing to persevere.

All these entrepreneur characteristics will fail you if you do not know how to read the tea leaves.

The good thing is reading the tea leaves can be learned.

How to learn to read the tea leaves 


Gratefully, one of the best ways to learn to read the tea leaves is through failure.

How can you be grateful for failure? That doesn’t make sense.

But as Thomas Edison said after it took him 1000 tries to invent the lightbulb, “I didn’t fail 1000 times, I just found 1000 ways not to make the light bulb”.

He learned how to find the lesson in every failure. To glean and polish the jewel of success that was covered with the ugly, muddy, and nasty failure that wraps it.

It’s not that perseverance, as an entrepreneur that helps you  to automatically become successful as an entrepreneur if just given enough time.


Perseverance only works if you are humble enough to learn the correct lessons from your failures.

I know many business people who continue to make the same mistakes.

They try forcing the market to be what they want, how they wanted.

Like a proverbial 2 year old, who runs around saying “Mine”, “My Business”.

Reading the tea leaves starts with humbleness and meekness of mind  because that’s the only way to see beyond your own ego.

Success builds our egos, while failure crashes it down.

But only when our egos are crushed, can we become objective enough to learn how to read a business as it really is, and not how we want it to be, or think it should be.

Reading the tea leaves is all about having a clear perception of a business in its given market.

Oftentimes our desires,  wants, and dreams get in the way of that.

When you master reading the tea leaves, all the other entrepreneur characteristics like discipline, perseverance, and determination then become important.

Because then you need these attributes to follow through with what you have gained after reading the tea leaves.

So some of you might be asking yourself where did I get the term reading the tea leaves from.

Reading the tea leaves refers to an old Middle Age practice.

“Reading the tea leaves” comes from tasseography, which is the practice of telling someone’s fortune by “reading” a splotched or smeared substance. In the middle ages, self-proclaimed clairvoyants would use melted wax or molten metals for the process, but after the tea trade exploded in the 17th century, these leaves from the Far East became the magic material of choice for this Western tradition (coffee is also popular).

The process varies by psychic, but it usually goes something like this: Un-strained tea is poured into a cup or container. The subject then drinks or dumps the liquid out. What remains is a bunch of soggy tea stuck to the sides and bottom of the cup, which is then interpreted by the reader as either a series of symbols or the outlines of pertinent imagery. See an acorn? That could mean you have good health in your future. A sword? You may be thrust into an argument soon. A 90-foot-tall talking water buffalo? You weren’t drinking normal tea, my friend.

How Does One Actually Read Tea Leaves?

Now , of‌ ‌course, we aren’t spitting out tea to find the value of our business offering, well maybe Warren Buffett is, Just joking.

But we are trying to look deeper into what our business offering really means in the greater market.

It’s not just what we want as business owners, but what the market wants, and seeing that clearly.

Seeing it clearly is the hard part, That’s the part that entails reading the tea leaves.

Happy Reading!

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