Eight Key Skills You Need to Master
as a Startup Owner

See also: Developing a Business Idea

As a busy startup owner, you’re likely taking care of a huge range of tasks. You might well hire plenty of other people to manage different areas in future … but it’s critical to master some key skills so you can grow your business to that point.

Here are eight key skills that you need to master if your business is going to succeed.


Skill 1: Being Flexible and Willing to Experiment

Sometimes, your startup idea might not be perfect. In fact, it may not even be viable. But you can iterate on that idea to build a hugely successful business.

Did you know that YouTube started out as an online dating site? After no one uploaded any videos for the first five days, the founders reconsidered and decided to open it up to all videos. Or what about eBay? That site began as a place for collectors to buy and sell Pez dispensers.

Your startup idea might have far more scope than you initially imagined. By being flexible – and willing to experiment – you could hit on the winning formula.

Skill 2: Managing Your Budget

Whether you’ve secured angel investment or you’re running your business on a bootstrap budget, it’s important to make the most of your money.

As the startup CEO, you need to understand figures. You need to know what you can afford to spend on – and where you need to rein things in. If you’re not yet turning a profit, you need to keep a clear eye on your runway: that’s the amount of time you have left before you run out of cash.

It’s always a good idea to keep some cash in reserve, just in case a big client pays late, equipment breaks down, or some other problem comes up. You don’t want to be struggling to pay your staff (or to make ends meet yourself) because of one little thing going awry.

Skill 3: Making Good Hires

To grow your startup, you’re going to have to hire people. The right hire could see your business succeed, fast … and the wrong hire could sink your business before it’s got off the ground.

You might not think of hiring as a skill, but it definitely is. Hiring isn’t just about choosing the best candidate on paper – and it’s certainly not about hiring your best friend or your brother-in-law. It’s about taking on someone who’s going to be a real asset to your team. That might mean asking around for recommendations or even working with a recruiter.

Skill 4: Running Payroll

As soon as you take on an employee, you’re going to need to be able to pay them correctly and on time. Doing payroll for the first time might be daunting, but there are lots of tools and software out there to help. You could even outsource this task to a specialist firm or freelancer.

However great your startup is, employees won’t be happy if they’re not paid on time. In fact, if you’re late paying them, they’ll probably be concerned that the company is about to go bankrupt. So make sure that you always give yourself plenty of time to run payroll.

Skill 5: Communication

As CEO, you need to be able to communicate well with a huge range of people. You need to delegate clearly and efficiently to your team members – and you also need to be able to talk about your business to potential investors, clients, and others. Plus, you might want to network with other business owners.

Communication isn’t just about being able to speak well and confidently. It’s also about being able to listen and truly take in what others are saying. Good communication skills also come into play in writing, such as in emails and reports. It’s important to be able to convey not just your meaning but also your tone or emotion in writing.

Skill 6: Vision

As the CEO, you need to not only have a clear vision, you need to be able to articulate it – and get others to buy into it. Whether that’s getting investors to back your project or motivating staff members to go the extra mile, you want the clarity of your vision to inspire the people around you.

This may also mean believing in your vision in the face of doubts or nay-sayers. While you certainly want to be flexible enough to adapt and pivot if necessary, you also want to keep true to your bigger vision – rather than compromising on things that matter.

Skill 7: Risk Management and Risk-Taking

Hopefully, you research and plan your decisions, making plans that you have some evidence for. But a large part of being a startup owner means taking risks. If you never risk failing, it’s very hard to succeed.

Chances are, you’re already comfortable with a reasonably high level of risk. After all, you chose to found a startup – instead of working for someone else. But it’s important to find the right level of risk. You might find it helps to consider what could go wrong or even the worst-case scenario. If a particular product fails or if a hire doesn’t work out, for instance, what would happen and what could you do about it?

Skill 8: Perseverance

There will be times when your startup is struggling. Maybe you’ll have a string of customer complaints or even some negative press. Perhaps you’ll be refused funding or you’ll make an expensive mistake.

Only a third of small businesses survive for 10 years. If you want yours to be among them, then you need to stay the course. That means sticking it out, even when things are tough. You might try different things or get different support, but fundamentally, you need to keep on going. If you give up, then your business will fail.

All eight of these skills are important ones – but you don’t have to master them overnight. Pick the skill that seems most critical for your business right now, and figure out how you could develop it or go further with it.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and Running Your Own Business

The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and
Running Your Own Business

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.

About the Author

Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.