The 10 Soft Skills All Entrepreneurs Need
for Business Success
Starting a business from scratch requires persistence and careful planning. While your industry knowledge and experience may have influenced your decision to move forward with your business idea, and given you the confidence to take the first step, budding entrepreneurs need to understand that industry knowledge alone won’t be enough to drive their business success forward.
Focusing on your soft skills and their development is crucial, not just in these initial stages but in terms of preparing yourself for the role of employer, team leader, salesperson, business representative and the variety of roles and responsibilities you’ll take on as a small business owner. It’s the development of these skills that not only contribute to your personal and professional progress but in terms of increasing ROI (return on investment) and gaining the edge over your competitors, they’re absolutely essential.
Your soft skills as an entrepreneur are akin to the beating heart of your business, when they’re weak and neglected, it impacts the rest of your business model, leaving you flagging and unable to keep up with client demands and your closest competitors. In this post, we’ll explore the 10 soft skills entrepreneurs need to develop to create, run and flourish as a small business.
Read on to find out more.
Leadership to Inspire and Guide Your Employees
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”
- John C. Maxwell
Developing your leadership skills isn’t just about having the confidence to tell your employees what to do and how to act. Leadership is about so much more. The ability to inspire your employees to work to the best of their ability and to carefully guide them towards the results that will not only help them reach targets but to also smash personal goals and strive for personal achievements. When you continue to develop your leadership skills, the results are shown in your business success and the personal and professional triumphs of your employees.
How Can I Improve My Leadership Skills?
- Take the initiative and set a good example
- Practice critical thinking
- Learn to actively listen
- Handle conflicts appropriately
- Consistently build and improve on your skills
Avoid Micromanaging by Working on Your Delegation Skills:
“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate”
- Richard Branson
As your business success continues to inevitably grow, so will your responsibilities, which is around the time entrepreneurs have to hand over these tasks and responsibilities to employees. While it’s easy to think that this process will deter your progress, strong, confident delegation is key to your business success and exponential growth. Embracing a delegatory approach to your daily operations begins by assessing where you’re spending your day and highlighting which tasks could be handed over to your team. Consistently challenging your employees with important tasks can also keep them engaged and invested in your business.
How Can I Improve My Delegation Skills?
- Play to your employee strengths and personal/professional goals
- Keep the lines of communication open for peace of mind
- Give your employees the tools and information they need to succeed
- Align the right task with the right employee
- Always Follow up
Prioritise Business Progress with Analytical Problem-Solving Skills:
“Every problem has a solution. You just have to be creative enough to find it”
- Travis Kalanick
Running a business of any size means responding to a variety of problems and finding ways to resolve them quickly and appropriately. As an entrepreneur, sticking your hand in the sand and ignoring the issue until it resolves itself will directly impact your business, therefore problem-solving is a vital soft skill that needs to be prioritised. Problem-solving can take many forms, whether you’re handling an error on the factory floor or you’re working through a dispute between colleagues, all issues require analytical skills and the willingness to think creatively to find a resolution.
How Can I Improve My Problem-Solving Skills?
- Focus on finding a solution not struggling with the causations
- Remember the importance of research and fact-finding
- Consider multiple solutions
- Communicate actively with those involved
- Await the results of your actions
Strengthen Your Communication Skills:
“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication”
- Mike Krzyzewski
Without high levels of productive communication across your business, budding entrepreneurs can expect to inadvertently hinder their progress. Whether you’re a traditional business or you’re working entirely online, developing and cultivating your communication skills is crucial.
Good communication doesn’t just make daily operations easier, it helps employees avoid mistakes and reduces human error, it helps you to communicate your company ethics and message effectively, it creates a productive and open dialogue, where employees can come to you for advice, concerns or to voice solutions to make your business run smoother. By developing your own communication skills, you’ll be setting a good example to your employees and learn to work smarter not harder, to achieve your goals.
How Can I Improve My Communication Skills?
- Learn how to actively listen, this approach will improve your responses and be able to absorb information better
- Practice speaking to improve your delivery
- Don’t be afraid to use images/infographics to help you communicate your points better
- Get better at writing emails and consider, tone, diction, and your company voice
- Prioritise communications with remote teams
Bonus Tip: Strong communication skills aren’t just about talking, it’s about being able to listen, and conveying your message clearly and concisely. And in ways that encourage respect and professionalism.
Working on Your Teamwork and Collaboration Skills
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”
- Henry Ford
Knowing how to work well with others is an important soft skill that all entrepreneurs should understand. While you may be happy to undertake most of the work yourself, there’ll come a point where your teamwork and collaboration skills influence the future success of your enterprise. Inspiring people to work together starts with you. Being able to listen to others, to communicate and to acknowledge your own role fosters a positive working environment for everyone. Being able to accept and try ideas, inviting feedback on your own performance can help you and your employees to generate new ideas and look at processes differently. It’s this approach that can give your business the edge in your saturated market.
How Can I Work on My Teamwork and Collaboration Skills?
- Encourage high levels of communication across your business including yourself!
- Ask for (and give) feedback – feedback should always be constructive
- Practice giving credit where credit is due
- Move quickly to resolve conflicts
- Practice defining roles and responsibilities within team projects
Bonus Tip: Teamwork and collaboration start with you. So, ensure you’re setting a strong example to your teams.
Razor Sharp Time Management Skills
“The key to time management is to see the value of every moment”
- Menachem Mendel Schneerson
When you work on your time management skills, you and your business are in a stronger position to provide a world-class experience for your clients and consistently deliver high-quality products and services with ease. Razor-sharp time management skills also mean that if issues arise within your business, you have the flexibility to solve them before they disrupt your daily operations. As a business owner you should be leading by example and highlighting how good time management impacts productivity and influences better business decisions. Improving your time management skills can also mean implementing a variety of tools like accountancy software to streamline and simplify your responsibilities as a business owner.
How Can I Work on My Time Management Skills?
- Learn how to prioritise your working day
- Implement technology to help you
- Make separate plans for daily, weekly and monthly schedules
- Identify distractions for you and your employees and remove them
- Organise your workspace for productivity
- Learn how to say “No”
Bonus Tip: Knowing when to say “no” to additional tasks can prevent you from stretching yourself and your business too thin. Be strategic with your working limits but remember to put your business and personal enhancement first.
Your Negotiation Skills
“In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate”
- Chester L. Karrass
The ability to negotiate effectively is imperative to the success of your business. Failing to learn how to negotiate as a small business owner, means always settling for second best and relying on short term fixes to satisfy your needs or to desperately conform to the needs of others. Working on your negotiation skills means putting barriers in place that helps you prioritise your growing business, and helps you enhance your professional and personal development. You’ll be better at problem-solving, communication and persuading others to see your way of thinking, whether you’re negotiating deadlines, a salary increase for your employees, or discussing new contracts.
How Can I Improve My Negotiation Skills?
- Practice your approach to negotiation regularly
- Always be prepared to negotiate, do your research, and develop a strong counterargument
- Be prepared to make mistakes
- Consider taking formal training via a negotiation coach
Bonus Tip: When your negotiation skills are weak, you and your business are left vulnerable to employees, suppliers or industry rivals who may move to take advantage of your inadequate negotiation skills.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
If you are thinking about running your own business, or already do so, but feel that you need some guidance, then this eBook is for you. It takes you through self-employment in easy steps, helping you to ensure that your business has more chance of success.
The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and Running Your Own Business is the guide no new or aspiring entrepreneur can afford to be without!
Based on our popular self-employment and entrepreneurship content.
The Strength to Challenge Yourself
“Challenge yourself, it’s the only path which leads to growth”
- Morgan Freeman
Running your own business and pushing for revenue growth means facing multiple challenges along the way. However, while challenges within business are expected, business owners should focus on their willingness to leave their comfort zone and challenge themselves in order to experience personal and professional growth. There may be a certain way of doing things within your daily operations, but could challenging yourself to try a different way be more beneficial for your business? Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and approaching investors, clients and making decisions with confidence will keep your business moving forward, and leave your competitors firmly behind you.
How Can I Challenge Myself to Step Out of My Comfort Zone?
- Implement new technology to improve operations
- Address your fears, e.g. public speaking, confrontations and take steps to minimise those fears
- Aspire to keep learning about your industry and new skills and apply this knowledge to your business
- Reach out to industry experts for guidance and advice, this networking approach can also improve your business prospects
Bonus Tip: Remember, when it comes to growing your business, entrepreneurs should consider an “adapt or die” approach, this way you’ll always land on your feet.
Work on Your Professional Flexibility
“Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it”
- Brian Tracy
As a business owner, if you don’t bend – then you and your business will simply break. When entrepreneurs work on their professional flexibility skills, they’ll find that their employees are much happier and that productivity increases. The more flexible you are as an entrepreneur, the happier your employees will be, the easier you’ll be able to discover new talent and the easier you’ll find it to grow your business. Whether you’re being flexible over team projects, or you’re developing new contracts for your employees, having the skill to be flexible helps you to put your business success and growth first.
How Can I Improve My Flexibility Skills?
- Think of how you can achieve the results you need by thinking outside of the box
- Consider moving away from the traditional and restrictive 9-5 working day
- Be willing to learn new practices to stay aligned with your industry
- Look for multiple ways to solve problems and to update daily operations
Bonus Tip: The more flexible your business is, the more adaptable it can be, whether there are changes in your industry or your target market changes, the more flexible you are, the better your business will be able to react to these changes positively.
Your Integrity Skills
“Honesty and integrity are by far the most important assets of an entrepreneur”
- Zig Ziglar
Being able to put others first as the owner of a growing business requires persistence and consistency. Integrity is a soft skill that defines your ability to make good decisions, your ability to manage your employees and to ensure your work ethic and your company message remains constant. Being a trustworthy, dependable and communicative employee and entrepreneur can set you apart from your competitors, channelling growth through high-quality work, mutual respect and taking responsibility for your actions.
How Can I Improve My Integrity Skills?
- Always respect the opinions of others
- Practice addressing conflict and workplace issues with honesty and respect
- Be a role model with your strong work ethic and your actions
- Encourage your employees to speak freely
- Admit to your own mistakes, don’t try to hide them
- Keep your promises
Bonus Tip: Prioritizing your integrity skills is essential for building trust within your workplace, and helping you to make better growth-focused decisions for your business.
Recognising the soft skills you need to develop is essential to business growth. Enhancing your soft skills will transform the way your business operates, helping you excel personally and professionally.
About the Author
Aislinn Carter is a freelance Writer and small business owner living in Hallandale, Florida. She has extensive experience in writing across a number of different verticals, with a specialism for business management and professional development related content.