While the debate rages on as to whether entrepreneurs are born or made, one thing can’t be disputed: polishing certain skills can help you be a better entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs think big and like to take risk. They like to bring in outside investors in order to scale a business in a relatively short space of time. They think ahead and are super-ambitious and they don’t tend to be sentimental about their business whereas for many small business owners, their company is their ‘baby’ and they take it personally if things go wrong.
So what makes a great entrepreneur? What is it that separates them for the rest and ensures them many successes and a cushy lifestyle?
Here are the 10 skills you need to be the next successful entrepreneur,
1. Sales skills
Being able to sell is something that is key to every entrepreneur. Even those that tell you they’re not natural sales people have the capability to sell or they wouldn’t get to where they are. Sales in a business doesn’t just take the obvious form of trying to push your wares, but means that it’s necessary to sell yourself and your ideas if you’re to succeed. It’s this ability that allows entrepreneurs to attract the funding that they do, because they convince investors that they and their ideas are worth time and money.
It’s easy to think about the “right-now” aspect of your business, because the results are easy to see. But what about the bigger picture, long-term challenges and goals? How often are you thinking about those?
Without a constant eye on your business’ strategy and skilled assessment of that strategy relative to the industry and your competition, you can’t hope to grow it over time and remain competitive in the marketplace.
3. Decision making
If you ask 10 people what decision-making is all about, you’ll get 10 different answers. Mostly you’ll get vague notions about decisiveness and leadership. Decision-making isn’t just about being decisive. You have to make the right decisions. That comes down to probing, listening, reasoning, and knowing when to trust your gut. Doing that well is the most important aspect of management, hands down.
4. A motivator of people
Some folks just have this ability to get people moving in unison to accomplish a goal. They can explain things in ways that people understand, that resonate with them, that get them excited. You’d jump through hoops of fire for them. Well, maybe not that, but you get the point. They have executive presence. We say they’re born leaders, but in reality, they’re just skills we develop along the way.
5. Business planning
To coin an old and rather tired cliché, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail and this particularly applies to business. Sound planning is vital to success as it allows you to build out on ideas (which often allows more to surface) and pick up any issues that might occur before they do. This means that you can iron out any teething problems very early on and ensure that they don’t get picked up by investors, who then refuse to pay up. Planning allows you to study the market, potential and existing competitors, how receptive the target audience may be to a product and much more.
We live and work in a fast-paced world. Managers have to be flexible, capable of adapting on the fly to changing conditions. If you can’t adapt, you’ll never last. You won’t be able to face the obstacles that competitive markets throw at you and, not just persevere, but come out on top. And you won’t be effective working with a diverse group of peers and executives, either.
7. Risk taking
Taking risks that may seem slightly mad to the rest of us is a sure sign of the entrepreneurial spirit. Whilst many of us would feel some trepidation at gaining the responsibility of a large sum of funding, for example, the entrepreneur jumps in and starts buzzing with ideas on how she can turn it into even more cash.
Very few of us actually possess any meaningful amount of self-confidence when we’re young for the simple reason that we haven’t had enough experience, enough successes and failures, to develop confidence yet. But if you have the guts to at least act like you do, that’s enough to get folks to believe in you and give you a shot.
8. The ability to hire effective people
Speaking of hiring, this is easily one of the most important skills any entrepreneur could have. Having great people on your team will give you access to new strengths, while also building a company culture that people want to be a part of. Hiring the right people is essential to get where you want to go.
9. The ability to manage staff
Once you have the right people, you need to manage them well. Early on in your business’s growth, you’ll be everyone’s manager, so it pays to be effective. If you don’t already know how to manage, take the time to learn how to motivate, encourage, and develop your staff.
10. The desire to improve your world
In the end, the best and most enduring motivation is to make a positive change in the world. When you focus your business and your success on that top priority, you’ll find yourself ready to weather any storm to meet the goal.
Don’t let this list intimidate or discourage you. Being an entrepreneur is a big task, but all of these skills can be learned. If you notice one you’re lacking in, go get it! Your eventual success depends on it.