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10 Timeless Skills for Entrepreneurial Success
Entrepreneurship is a very attractive route for those who want the freedom to be their own boss and make an impact in the world. But anyone who wants to go down this path will have to develop certain skills that will enable them to create a thriving business.
Here are the valuable skills that you will find behind every successful business owner - qualities that truly stand the test of time.
1. Ability to Communicate
It’s no secret that communication is an important skill for business people, but have you ever thought about why? Without the ability to communicate, i.e. pitch, educate, inspire, entrepreneurs cannot sell their products, gain support for their ideas, or raise venture capital. Communication is basically the ability to transmit ideas in an effective way, and it’s a highly valuable skill for entrepreneurs, as confirmed by some of the top individuals in business. Take Warren Buffet as an example - he once said that the only diploma he hangs in his office is the communications diploma he got from Dale Carnegie in 1952. It’s evidently a skill he highly values.
You can have the smartest strategies in the world, but if you can’t convince people to follow you or buy from you, you have no business. Any good entrepreneurship class will teach the art of persuasion and techniques to improve your people skills because they are foundational skills for business. Your ability to communicate will help you get your first few customers, but it will also help you nurture relationships and keep customers in the long run. While other parts of business can be automated or managed by computer systems, developing good communication skills can’t be avoided or outsourced.
2. Money Management
The ability to manage money is one of the most important skills for entrepreneurs. Businesses exist to make money, which means entrepreneurs need to know how to manage their finances effectively. They need to understand cash flow - how much money comes in, how often, how accessible the money is, and how it is used. As well as being able to make money, entrepreneurs need to know how to save money and invest it back into their business. They also need to be able to identify money leaks and cut costs where necessary, so they can direct funds into the areas that need it most.
To be successful, entrepreneurs need to improve their financial literacy and learn how to make smart money choices. Financial literacy is a skill that entrepreneurs can develop independently by taking online courses and doing research into various topics.
3. Strategic Thinking
Business owners can’t just sit in a corner and wait for opportunities to come to them. Entrepreneurs have to think strategically and be proactive. They have to show initiative, research trends, and always put themselves and the business in the optimum position for growth.
Strategic thinking involves attentively looking for opportunities for personal and business growth. This type of thinking is critical when it comes to determining the best way to advance a company toward its objectives.
Entrepreneurs should aim to build a sustainable business that prioritizes customer needs. This involves learning to create products and services that solve customer problems. Through collecting customer feedback, business owners can anticipate what customers will need, how to improve customer support, and how to stand out from competitors.
4. Stress Management
Entrepreneurs must learn how to manage stress because they will consistently find themselves in mentally and physically demanding situations. Hard work and sleepless nights are often a reality for entrepreneurs, especially in the beginning stages of building a business. While being your own boss is rewarding, it also comes with its challenges. You have to manage your time and your energy, no one tells you when to start working or switch off.
A key lesson for entrepreneurs is that you can’t pour from an empty cup. You need to understand how your body handles stress and create a healthy routine. As an entrepreneur, you should learn how to take breaks - it’s a stress management technique that will ultimately also improve your productivity. Realistically, there will be nights where you’re up late working, but you should try to consistently get a good sleep, eat well, and get regular exercise. Cultivating these habits will help you avoid burnout so you continue to love what you do.
5. Visionary Leadership
What enables entrepreneurs to keep going despite facing setbacks and disappointments? It’s the unique outlook that only visionaries possess. Successful entrepreneurs have a deep-rooted belief and sense of confidence in their business. They have to have faith and visualise the end goal, even when no one else does. All successful companies started as just an idea that someone had one day. Yet, the idea became much more than that through relentless dedication and drive on the part of an entrepreneur.
Visionary leadership starts with commitment to an end goal, and it fuels entrepreneurs with the energy needed to manage the ups and downs of building a business. It involves both the passion and self-confidence to turn a dream into reality. Entrepreneurs develop this quality through realising that their idea has the potential to either change the world or increase their personal freedom. When your business is tied to values to mean a lot to you, you’ll find yourself ready to weather any storm to achieve success.
Entrepreneurs need to learn how to create a brand that has a unique position in the market. It’s important to go beyond viewing your company as a business – you should view it as a brand. What’s the difference? A business is the organization that offers products and services. Your brand is so much more; it’s the image or identity that your business reflects, and the way customers perceive your business. Brand development is an important skill for entrepreneurs, and it includes learning to define the brand manifesto, vision statement and value proposition.
This skill is vital because if you don’t define your brand, someone else will. Successful entrepreneurs are very deliberate with their branding – from elements such as color schemes to copywriting – and they are masters of their craft. Today, people are overwhelmed with information and resonate so much more with clear, consistent branding. When you have a strong brand, people will follow you simply because of the values your brand represents in their mind.
Another highly valuable skill for entrepreneurs is networking. Building a strong network of potential clients and business partners is what enables your business to grow. Networking allows you to search out and take advantage of opportunities that you might not have had access to otherwise. Entrepreneurs need to learn how to develop mutually beneficial relationships with others. Networking is based on good communication and an exchange of value, it’s not all about what you can get from the other person.
Networking is vital for entrepreneurial success because it can be highly motivational. It allows you to connect with other entrepreneurs who are going through similar experiences and dealing with the same challenges as you. The community an entrepreneur develops through networking can also be a valuable resource for bouncing ideas and getting industry-specific tips. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road sometimes but networking helps entrepreneurs stay fresh and surrounded by great opportunities.
Many successful entrepreneurs start their careers in sales. Learning sales and marketing is critical to building a successful business. However, sales skills are commonly underestimated by those who launch a business for the first time, because they assume that a great product will automatically sell itself. But that’s not how it works - and this is a key factor in why many businesses are not able to survive their first few years. The market is full of entrepreneurs who are trying to sell products, and the people who succeed have spent countless hours studying what it takes to close a sale. Entrepreneurs who develop skills in sales will learn how to stay on top of a competitive market, regardless of industry.
Learning sales helps entrepreneurs develop tenacity and a deep comprehension of their business process. As this article by Entrepreneur Magazine explains, sales training starts with defining a general set of assumptions of how a business should work and then testing and iterating to see what actually works, to improve the business process. Developing sales skills helps entrepreneurs make necessary failures, climb the learning curve, and gain necessary insights required to do well in business.
9. Talent Management
Entrepreneurship often involves collaborating with others in some way, whether it’s working with a freelancer or hiring staff as the business grows. Talent management is an important skill for entrepreneurs to develop, they need to be able to pick and recruit the right people who will contribute to the success of their business.
There comes a stage where entrepreneurs need to decide on the tasks they will continue to do themselves, and the tasks that are best delegated to others. Failure to delegate is a trap many business owners fall into, usually because they are reluctant to let go of control. However, it’s an important part of running a successful business because it ultimately allows you to concentrate on tasks that generate revenue or require your creative direction.
Entrepreneurs also need to be able to train and manage the people they add on to their team. This will require that entrepreneurs develop leadership skills so they can lead others and communicate clear expectations. When business owners learn how to encourage, develop and motivate staff, it boosts morale and keeps the company moving in the right direction.
Persistence is a defining trait of successful entrepreneurs and one of the top qualities on the famous success iceberg.
Entrepreneurs who are persistent are able to watch their ideas grow from nothing to the business they always envisioned. Entrepreneurship is not an easy route, and it’s one that requires a tremendous amount of patience to be able to see any results. Patience and persistence are important keys to success for any entrepreneur, as well as learning how to view failures as important learning moments.
This quality helps entrepreneurs handle rejections, stress and slow progress. There are many obstacles that arise when you build a business from scratch and you have to keep your mind focused on the end goal in order to overcome them. One of the key reasons why persistence is so important is that it keeps you hungry for answers and solutions. In business, no one is going to give you all the answers you need – you have to do your research to dig them out. You have to keep trying different strategies until you find the ones that stick. This requires persistence, but there’s no greater feeling than realising that you’ve made it.
Improving your skills as an entrepreneur is not an overnight process. However, if you make an effort to address each of the skills and traits mentioned above, your personal development will become evident in the growth of your business.
Successful businesses are a reflection of the successful entrepreneurs behind them, and their commitment to constant self-improvement. These skills will enable new entrepreneurs to start and run a business, but they will also help experienced entrepreneurs to remain strong players in the game.
About the Author
Roli Edema is a personal development author and digital marketer. She runs the blog roliedema.com where she shares useful insights to help individuals reach their personal, career, and business goals.