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7 Major skills an entrepreneur should have:
We all dream of starting our own business someday and becoming successful entrepreneurs. Many of us also have multiple business ideas to begin with. But before we finalize on one idea and start building a business, there are some essential skills we need to adopt to make it happen. One need not go to a business school to learn these skills, but developing them will help you to lay a strong foundation for your business.
So here are 7 major skills an entrepreneur should have -
Basic knowledge of P&L:
Majority of entrepreneurs are driven by their idea and have deep knowledge of their product/service but lack knowledge of basic finances. They feel it's too complicated or are not willing to make an effort to know the financial part. But before you start your business, it's essential to learn how to read and understand Profit and Loss statements of your business. Your P&L will help you understand whether your business is profitable or not, what are your peak periods of profitability and also your major costs.
Understanding the costs will also help you to create a budget for your business and identify cost-cutting opportunities. Having a business budget is essential to allocate resources appropriately and identify expansion opportunities. Your budget will also help you keep track of your funds, lower your debt and help you set financial goals for your business.
There are numerous cloud computing software available these days to easily keep track of your business financials, create a business budget and also generate P&L statements. You can benefit from these software at the start of your business instead of hiring and paying a full time accountant.
As an entrepreneur you might be working from a home office all alone, under such conditions self-motivation is the key to stay focused on your goals. You will face numerous challenges in raising funds, increasing sales and establishing your brand at the start of your business, but no matter what you need to concentrate on the bigger picture and believe in yourself.
You need to understand your peak productivity hours, set up a daily routine and follow it. Listening to informative podcasts, motivational speakers or successful people in your field will help you to stay energized and inspired. You can also opt for having a business coach to guide you in your entrepreneurial journey.
Apart from your vision and mission you need actionable tried and tested methods to stay focused and productive. This can be meditation, exercise, taking breaks in between work hours, listening to soothing music, and so on depending upon your nature and interests. You need to figure out what things energize you and practice them daily to stay efficient.
At times you may come across people who don’t believe in your business idea and are discouraging you from pursuing your dreams. Make sure you stay away from such negative people or thoughts, develop a positive mindset and keep pushing yourself.
Once you are self-motivated and determined to achieve your goals, the people around you, your potential team members will also feel the same drive.
Strategic thinking is important to structure and grow your business. Every entrepreneur needs to find creative solutions to improve his product/service. He needs to anticipate the shifts in the market and identify growth opportunities. We are living in vulnerable times with a constantly changing business environment, entrepreneurs need to adapt their business strategies accordingly to stay competitive.
In times of crisis the entrepreneur should be able to modify his business model to minimize damage and deal with unforeseen circumstances. He should be able to make quick, structured decisions to make effective use of resources. He should identify untapped markets and formulate strategies to reach potential customers.
Strategic thinking also helps entrepreneurs to bring innovation in all aspects of their business without being afraid of change. It helps them to identify their unique selling point and capitalize on it.
They say your net worth is equal to your network, and when it comes to business, a strong professional network will help you achieve goals that you would never achieve on your own. No matter whether its meeting in person or online networking, support and collaboration with other entrepreneurs in your field will help you to grow your business.
Networking will help you create referrals and convert potential customers increasing your reach. It will help you to build an impressive profile in your industry and create authenticity for your business. You can also learn new things from peers in your network and implement them in your business.
Networking will also help you to connect with highly influential people in your industry, who otherwise might be out of your reach and benefit from their experience. In today’s digital world, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are a great way to build these professional relationships. You can follow the leaders in your industry, engage on their posts and connect with them online. You can also create content relevant to your business and build a strong followership for yourself. As your business grows you will be able to make more valuable connections using lesser resources and time.
Every entrepreneur needs to communicate effectively with his investors, customers, team members and peers. Clear and concise communication will help you translate your business idea and communicate the value of your business to all stakeholders. Entrepreneurs should master not just in person communication but all forms of communication including group communication, written communication and email or other digital forms of communication.
Good presentation skills and impressive elevator speeches are essential to convince investors and raise capital. In case of international customers or clients you might even have to learn a foreign language to breach communication gaps. Effective communication with your employees will create a sense of belonging and improve their connection with the business.
Good listening skills are also an essential part of effective communication. Entrepreneurs should actively listen to others involved in the business to make informed decisions. Good listening skills will also help you in better negotiations and make you seem more invested in people around you.
There is no successful entrepreneur in the world who doesn't know how to sell. At the early stage in your business you might not be able to hire a dedicated sales person, and you will have to make the first few sales on your own. You will never be able to take your business off the ground without closing these first few sales.
Some entrepreneurs think sales is a manipulative process wherein you are forcing people to buy your goods. On the other hand, successful entrepreneurs try to understand customer needs and resolve their problems by serving them a better product/service. To grow your business you must learn to make people understand the value of the product/service that you are offering. You must persuade your customers to choose your product/service over competitors and earn their loyalty.
Apart from selling your product/service to the customers, your sales skills will also come handy to pitch your business idea to investors and to hire talented people as your employees. Your ability to sell will determine the success of your business, so it's essential you master this skill first hand.
Leadership is all about managing people. You cannot take your business idea to the next level if your employees are not willing to follow you. You need to know how and when to delegate the tasks, lead by example and empower your employees. Your leadership skills will help you to retain the best talent and build loyalty among your employees. In the long this will help you to create new leaders at all levels to take your business forward.
You need to strike the right balance between control and autonomy and avoid micromanagement. You should not put yourself ahead of others at all times, but rather share your success and align personal goals of your employees with your business goals. Even if you are not a natural charismatic leader, having a clear and concise vision, an actionable plan and effective communication will help you to influence others.
Apart from the 7 skills mentioned above, there is one more important skill all entrepreneurs need to have - learning ability. You may be inherently great at one or two skills mentioned above but in order to master the rest, you have to be a quick learner. You need to be curious to know things, understand facts, get to the core of problems and come up with creative solutions. You need to stay updated with the latest technologies and processes relevant to your industry and implement them in your business.
Always remember that a great idea is not enough to build a successful business, you need to work on that idea, work on yourself and develop a diverse skill set. Once you develop the essential skills and start working on your business, you will have to stay disciplined and practice these skills every single day to move closer to your goal.