Looking to be your own boss? To lead a company into success? You may be hungry to be an entrepreneur or a person who takes on risks and responsibilities to start their own business. There are some necessary skills to know before you jump in.
10 Must-Have Entrepreneurial Skills for all Start-up Entrepreneurs
Here are 10 of the most important entrepreneur skills we believe any individual should continue to develop if they want to be a successful entrepreneur.
1. Sales and Marketing Skills
To start, having a great foundation in sales and marketing is crucial. If the goal of your business is to eventually sell a product, then the importance of those skills is clear, but before that, you have to sell your business to potential investors and employees.
In sales you need a level of confidence to sell something, you have to believe in the product, and selling a business is no different. If you want investors you have to convince them that your business is valuable and will succeed.
If you want skilled people on your team, you need to be able to sell the experience of being a part of your business. You have to sell the idea that this is where this person should be. It will benefit them. The first product you have to sell is your business, and as you continue to work you will see new opportunities and moments where having a sales mindset will help you along the way.
2. Interpersonal and Networking Skills
It’s all about who you know, and if you don’t have the skills to grow your circle you may find it difficult to begin or continue your business. Your abilities to network and be personable are important.
Being a person people like, trust, and want to help is important because you need people. You can’t build a business on your own. Every successful entrepreneur out there had help from people.
They may want you to think they were completely self-made, but that is not the truth. They had a network of people that assisted them along the way. So you want to be able to gain the trust and assistance of multiple people.
A lot of these skills are interconnected. In terms of networking, you should utilize those sales and marketing skills you are working on. You want to be able to talk about your business with confidence like you’re selling it.
Also, a large aspect of it is communication skills, which we will talk about in a little bit.
Folks that can be an important part of your network include:
- Prior/current colleagues
- Past teachers
- Potential investors
- Fellow alumni
- Successful business leaders
Remember that people all have their own knowledge sets, and that is the importance of networking. You never know what information a person can have that can help you to succeed.
3. Business Management and Technical skills
If you’re going to run a business, business management skills are important. Remember, you will have a team of people beneath you and you should be able to manage all aspects by building an agile workflow in practice.
This includes the technical side since so much of our work these days revolves around the internet and digital systems, and is slowly but surely transitioning to AI. These are important aspects to familiarize yourself with.
A business has a lot of moving parts, and understanding better how those parts connect and work together is going to ensure a working machine.
4. Leadership Skills
If you plan on running your own business, you are going to need employees, and if you are going to be taking risks, you need employees that trust you.
This is where strong and continued leadership skills come in. To lead your people and be the example.
You must believe in the value and possibilities of your developing company, but you have to impart that belief and that drive to your employees as well. They have to believe in the journey as well.
There are many late nights, long meetings, and tough setbacks that will come your way in the building of your business, and as a leader, you have to be the stability that the business uses as a foundation.
People should look up to you and trust that you have the ground underneath them. This is where inspiration comes in.
A leader doesn’t just inspire through speeches and words but by actions. A leader comes in early every day, and is the last to leave. They lead by example. If you as a leader are calm when the storms arrive, your staff will have no reason to worry.
Delegate and Communicate
Having clear plans and delegations is crucial, not only for the actual continual success and management of a business, but for your employees to trust you.
You have to be organized and maintain structure in order to ensure the machine is moving smoothly, and if the machine is moving smoothly you will have a staff that trusts in your process.
Now sometimes it can be hectic and it can be disorganized or feel jumpy, but delegation allows your employees to work on one piece of the puzzle. Putting the pieces together and seeing the whole picture is up to you.
This is crucial, and it’s to trust your employees. A leader that doesn’t trust his employees doesn’t trust in the delegation. You have employees for a reason, and you hired that specific individual for a reason.
If you trust your staff to do the work, they will believe in their self-efficacy. They will feel like a valued member of the team.
5. Communication Skills
We mentioned for a moment above, but let’s go a little bit more in-depth with communication because it is so key to being an entrepreneur.
This isn’t only in relation to your team, but also in terms of all interactions. Let’s start with a very overlooked aspect: listening.
When you’re in a leadership position it may feel like you need to be the talker or the director. You have all of the ideas, and if you don’t say them all the business won’t succeed, but really your ability to listen is what may help you succeed most.
Listening is so crucial, because you just don’t know everything. Being an entrepreneur requires being open and willing to constantly learn. This is especially true when you have a team of people.
You are bringing in different individuals with different skill sets so that you can use those skill sets. You don’t know them, so take the time to listen. Learn from your team.
Listening is also just a phenomenal skill to have as a person in general. People are more likely to connect to you if you’re actively listening. If in an encounter you do most of the talking you aren’t likely to get that person interested in you.
It’s Not What You Say it’s How you Say it
We’re more likely to listen to a person’s behavior than we are to their words, and if you don’t have an awareness of how you speak to people then you may be endangering your message.
You don’t want your team to feel attacked when you ask a simple question like, “When can we expect this to be done?” An important and innocent question that can come off as an attack if said with the wrong tone.
Be aware of how you speak, and how you hold your body. Even when listening it’s important to be aware of your body language. Are you acknowledging what they are saying with physical cues?
Nodding your head and looking someone in their eyes as they speak can show that person that you are actively listening. It’s also about how you listen as well.
6. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
Every problem presents its own challenges and there is no formula for every situation. Your ability to see each moment and think critically will help you to see that special solution that will not only solve the problem, but push you forward in a new way.
Critical thinking allows you to see a problem as it is, and can then lead to your ability to solve the problem. The interconnectedness is based on addressing and diagnosing so you can better understand how to approach and solve this issue.
This also allows you to make projections on what may come next. Even if you solve this problem, what can then arise in the future? What are other possibilities?
7. Intrapersonal Skills and Growth Mindset
You don’t want to stay as a baby business forever. You want to grow, at least we hope you do. How does your business plan on growing and what are the aspects about it that need to be developed in order to grow?
It’s a step by step process and it takes patience, but you should have the skills to track and project where growth is coming from, and what piece of the puzzle has to be altered in order to grow more.
This is especially important when working with your team. You want to be able to communicate the advantages of the next steps and what should be expected in order to level up.
8. Customer Service Skills
Maybe you’ve worked as a cashier, or a server at some point. Those jobs involve the interaction between yourself and customers, and the ability to speak to customers and hold onto your cool if they get irate is quite a skill to have.
It also becomes important when engaging with your own clientele. How you communicate with customers and the experience you provide them is what determines whether they come back or not.
So this skill is always important for building and maintaining a steady stream of business.
9. Flexibility and Resourcefulness
Everything and anything can go wrong, especially when you are taking risks, but the ability to be flexible and see each occurrence as an opportunity instead of tragedy is what separates the quitters from the winners.
You can’t freeze up when things don’t go as you planned, because a lot of the time they will not go as you planned. However, you have to keep going, and being flexible will help you to change your course while still charging ahead.
Being resourceful will help you to take what you have at that moment and make something of it. This is where you have to see everything as an opportunity.
10. Time Management and Risk-Appetite
We want to mention patience once again, especially when discussing time management. You can’t build your business overnight. Success will not occur overnight. Sleep should be happening overnight.
Remember to manage your time in and out of the “office” whether that is a remote office or brick and mortar. Focusing on the important tasks day by day so that you can give them their due attention and time.
The spirit of an entrepreneur is wild and you want to take on the world quickly, but you have to take small, calculated bites in order to succeed. Be a risk taker and be excited about what those risks may bring…they may bring success.
However, don’t risk your health. You don’t want to burn yourself out and remember that leadership means maintaining your drive and attitude as an example for your team.
There are multiple aspects to consider when becoming an entrepreneur and many skills to accumulate, but being an entrepreneur means being a lifelong learner.
If you have a vision, you will open yourself up to the knowledge the world has to offer to make that vision come true.