🌼These 5 Underrated Skills Can Make You Millions in Almost Any Industry


🌼These 5 Underrated Skills Can Make You Millions in Almost Any Industry

Your last startup flopped? You could still walk away with a multi-million-dollar toolkit — if you know how to leverage it.

These 5 underrated skills can make you millions in almost any industry. Your last startup flopped? You may still be walking away with a multi-million-dollar toolkit…if you know how to leverage it.


One of my neighbors is a 40-something founder with no impressive educational background nor formal professional training, yet he’s generating over $5B of sales in a hyper-competitive industry. Ironically, his industry of choice is often looked down upon by many career entrepreneurs. Why? It has something to do with the low barriers to entry, perceived antiquation, and seeming lack of differentiation and value add. Nonetheless, he isn’t the only one bringing in billions (with a “B”) in this space — though these titans of industry are, of course, few and far between.

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You know what aren’t few and far between? The number of people with the skills to achieve similar success if they’d only redirect their entrepreneurial skillset. I hypothesize the reason this neighbor — and the few other mega players in his industry — are so successful is because they’ve brought a bomb to a knife fight. In other words, no one expected them to attack their “sleepy” (i.e. ripe for disruption) industry with the handful of ninja marketing, technical, and sales skills; in so doing, they were able to catapult themselves to swift, stealth, and unexpected success.


If you’ve pursued, left, or even failed at a seemingly impressive (or just plain difficult) industry, company, or profession — be it your own startup or other venture — I’d argue you may be walking away with a multi-million-dollar toolkit…even if you didn’t bag millions of dollars yourself (yet). Here are the 5 supremely underrated transferrable skills that can make you millions if strategically applied to the right industry.

Oh, and a quick secret on what is the “right industry”: It’s the one you’re passionate enough about to stick with until you reach optimum success, and step one may be admitting that you’re still figuring that out.

1. Behavioral intelligence

As a highly analytical, not-so-intuitive person by nature, accepting and admitting that behavioral intelligence is a mission-critical factor to maximum career success is frustrating, but I know it’s true. Despite spending the past decade mastering generating sales from behind a computer (while minimizing human contact), that doesn’t discount the importance of understanding a prospect’s, partner’s, or client’s perspective. In fact, behavioral intelligence may be the number one factor in determining success in sales — even if you don’t consider yourself “in sales”.

You see, as entrepreneurs, we’re all “in sales” to some degree:

We’re selling an investor on funding our venture

We’re selling a prospect on trying our product

We’re selling a client on continuing to work with us

We’re selling past clients on referring others, and so on

The biggest downside to early (or lucky) success (or success owed largely to delegation) is that the cash coming in can absolve us founders of the need to seek out sales skills. I’d argue few founders are aware of our sales prowess (or lack thereof) until or unless we’re confronted with it, head on. Nonetheless, mastering behavioral intelligence and interpersonal sales communication is easily one of the highest-ROI skills we can all acquire.

If you’ve yet to spend some dedicated time learning and honing your behavioral intelligence skill set, I’d urge you to add this to your founder to-do list. Whether it helps you close a funding round, secure a business partner, or even convince an industry titan to take you under their wing, you may be shocked at the rewards enhanced communication can reap.

2. Technical marketing prowess

If you’re a founder who’s played in the online marketing and sales conversion sandbox for more than a few years, you may feel like everyone and their brother is a digital marketing pro. In your own echo chamber of competitor companies, digital marketers, and technical teams, that may be true; however, that isn’t necessarily the landscape in every space or industry you may pursue.

One of the biggest downsides of hanging around with solely fellow entrepreneurs is that we can all start to assume everyone is just like us. In reality, there are many industries and target markets that have yet to reach saturation with respect to digital marketing, and these are the ones that represent the greatest opportunities.

Imagine offering a lead magnet to an audience of prospects who haven’t been force-fed thousands of free quizzes, e-books, and video courses. Picture the authenticity with which you can market to a group or industry that hasn’t seen (and by now, ignored) your playbook several thousand times over. That’s the power of different. When everyone is trying to market “better”, your biggest competitive advantage may be to shake things up with a pattern interrupt that neither your competitors nor your prospects ever see coming.

The antiquated industry I referenced earlier has often operated through word-of-mouth referrals and minimal organic lead generation. Thus, it’s no surprise that a handful of new players — who’ve quickly risen to the top — have fast-tracked their networks (and books of clients) with organic lead generation, strategic SEO, and AI-amplified content marketing.

If you bring uncommon technical proficiency to a slow-to-adapt industry, you may be surprised at just how receptive prospects may be to your “different” approach.

3. Fearless humility and resourcefulness

Once you’re an “expert” in a certain field, it’s easy to forget what it was like back when you were a doe-eyed newbie. What shouldn’t be easy to forget is the resourcefulness that got you from A to “expert”. If you’ve achieved any modicum of success in your startup endeavors, I have to assume you’ve been fairly resourceful (because at the beginning, that’s all you have).

Now that you’re dipping your toe into new waters, broaching a new industry, or pursuing a new audience, this is the time to summon the fearless humility that will endear you to the more seasoned industry veterans with whom you network.

Let’s be clear: Honest, fearless humility and resourcefulness combined instill more confidence than “fake it ’til you make it” ever will — at least with the people who matter most.

Succeeding in a new arena requires the willingness to fail, to be new, and to admit what you don’t know, as well as the unwavering resourcefulness to believe you can piece together the tools and information to figure it all out. That combination alone can make you millions in a brand-new field.

4. Swift shoestring delegation

If you’ve ever doubted whether choosing the entrepreneurial path was a worthwhile endeavor — especially if you have yet to achieve an exit or break through the 6-, 7-, or 8-figure ceiling — I can assure you there is one skill set for which you have corporate drones beat: Swift shoestring delegation.

I’m talking about your speed and scrappiness, also known as every bureaucracy’s Achilles heel. So many professionals who come from a bureaucratic, red-tape-filled corporate environment significantly overestimate the amount of time and money required to do…basically anything. As an entrepreneur, you’ve likely mastered the art of making things happen quickly and cheaply, which is exactly what will allow you to dominate in industries notorious for their sluggish sales cycles.

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5. Conversion math (percentage proficiency)

Lastly, but arguably among the most important of them all, is the understanding and mastery of conversion math. By “conversion math”, I’m referring to the realistic likelihood of a prospect becoming a customer, the acceptable time frame during which to continue attempting to market to or convert them, and the maximum cost of that attempt.

As you likely know, customer conversions vary significantly by industry, audience, and marketing channel. While you don’t have to be a mathematician or finance pro, having a firm grasp on acceptable marketing sequences, sales cycles, conversion windows, customer acquisition costs, and the maximum marketing budget to maintain profitability is key to succeeding in any new industry.

You’d be shocked at how many industry newbies get “spreadsheet rich”, only to be confronted with the fact that strangers don’t become clients at a 25% conversion rate. You might be even more shocked at just how long it can take prospects in certain industries to convert and thus, the importance of long-term lead nurturing sequences, even if it takes years for those efforts to pay off. Case in point: One of my ventures saw leads convert to 4+ figure sales after 2 years of nurturing; likewise, I know entrepreneurs in higher-ticket industries who’ve seen 6-year-honed leads result in multiple 7- and 8-figure sales.

Sometimes profitability takes patience and persistence, but it always takes financial proficiency so you don’t end up spending more than you stand to make.

If you surround yourself with rocket scientists…

As someone steeped in the hustle-obsessed, technically proficient entrepreneurial culture as a startup founder, it’s easy to discount our own skill set and assume everyone is a cutting-edge competitor. In some cases, that’s fairly accurate; however, you choose the mountain you climb, and no one said you had to slay the most dangerous dragon or pursue the most cut-throat of industries.

I’m not suggesting people leave the startup fold or switch industries in lieu of an easier path. I am, though, suggesting that founders who lean into their strengths and entrepreneurial skill sets may find they offer additional — or even greater — returns in seemingly less obvious, less competitive, or less forward-thinking fields. If you’re drawn to an industry, profession, or opportunity that seems antiquated, less impressive, overlooked, or perhaps ripe for disruption and you have the passion to see it through, why not be that disruptor the industry is lacking? Based on my neighborhood alone, I guarantee you doing so could be more fruitful than you might think — and my neighbor could give you 5 billion reasons to try.

Contributed by Rachel Greenberg

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