“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet


For the last 6 years I’ve had the chance to work with several people who suffer from various types of addictions.  In my role, I’ve helped these good men and women work through the incredibly inspired 12 Steps to recovery.  The experience, although challenging, has been remarkable.

I believe that the most profound step of the 12 is Step 4 – Making a Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory of Ourselves.  In this step the person examines his or herself in a brutally honest fashion, writing down the most vital good, bad and ugly from their lives … and then shares all of it with someone else.

When people take this step seriously, it results in miracles.  This level of personal honesty is both incredibly liberating and necessary for making all subsequent steps possible.

Such self-honesty is LIBERATING because the person no longer has to hide things from the world.  They get it all out on the table so it can be dealt with head-on.

Honesty is NECESSARY because we are then able to develop solutions that address the actual causes.



So, what does Step 4 of the 12-Step Addiction Recovery program have to do with starting a business?

Let me tell ya … it is astoundingly helpful to be aware of your personal strengths and passions on the one side and your weaknesses and dislikes before you launch your business.  Let’s call these your SPWD’s).

It is best if you inventory these things with the same level of brutal honesty as an addict.

How does that help you when launching a business?

Knowing, and accepting, your SPWD’s helps you know:

  • If you’re cut out for the business you’re planning to start
  • Where you “fit” within your industry (see my next blog article)
  • What vital functions of your business you either need to learn to do or outsource to others




Taking any deep and searching personal inventory can be difficult.

One the one hand, it requires to be humble and vulnerable when identifying your weaknesses and dislikes.

On the other hand, you need to be proud and confident of your strengths and passions.

My experience is that both sides of the equation – vulnerability and confidence – can be hard.

The SPWD Assessment

I’ve taken virtually every personality and skills test you can think of.  I’ve been fascinated by them and studied them in detail to discover their positives and negatives.

The biggest weakness that I’ve found in such assessments is that they seek to put you into a “box” that has inherent qualities.  Such pigeonholing doesn’t make sense to me.  People are far more complex than such assessments allow.  Everyone has their own unique background and story that leads to unique mix of SPWDs (Strengths, Passions, Weaknesses, Dislikes).

Because of that, I’ve created my own Assessment for new or aspiring business owners that allows for your unique set of SPWDs.

If you decide to take the assessment, remember that the more honesty and mental/emotional effort you put into this assessment, the more useful it will be.

For each Business Skill below, write down two things:

  1. Your Skill Level at that thing on a scale of 1 (almost no skill at all) to 10 (expert)
  1. Your Enjoyment Level at doing that thing on a scale of 1 (hate doing it) to 10 (love doing it)


Here is the list of 15 Business Skills for the Solopreneur (i.e. no employees):

  • Working Hard without a Boss
  • Setting & Accomplishing Goals
  • Boldly Connecting with Strangers
  • Closing Sales
  • Communicating through Talking
  • Communicating through Writing
  • Graphic Art
  • Creating Your Product or Delivering Your Service
  • Doing Repetitive Tasks
  • Creating Processes & Systems
  • Making Other People Happy
  • Handling Conflict
  • Technology
  • Negotiating
  • Managing Money

Answering some of these may be difficult because you’ve never done them before.  That’s OK.  You’ll learn the answers as you attempt to do these things.


What do you think about the importance of being brutally honest with yourself about things?

Is there any Business Skill that should be on the Solopreneur skill list that I missed?