A question that every new entrepreneur or someone who is planning to become an entrepreneur has in their mind – What are the required skills for entrepreneurs to attain success?
To run a successful entrepreneurial venture, it takes immense hard work, dedication, and understanding of a wide range of skills for entrepreneurs to master.
While it is extremely important for the entrepreneur to be competent in their field of business, however, the mark of a great business person is ensuring they understand a variety of other skills too for the holistic growth of their venture.
These skills are not just limited to business owners but entrepreneurial skills can also be a major asset if you’re in an intrapreneurial job role where you’re expected to bring new business or build new products.
If you have identified a gap and have reassessed your career towards owning a business this article explicates the skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur and explores resources that could help you to develop the skills.
What makes someone an Entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur usually means starting and building your own successful business, although people who have the requisite skills for entrepreneurs can thrive within larger organizations too.
Entrepreneurs generally take a creative, innovative approach, and they may take risks that others would avoid.
No matter how you describe the term, becoming a successful entrepreneur isn’t easy, so be prepared to do the “hard yards,” even after you’ve learned the much talked about skills for entrepreneurs which I will be listing further in this article.
Many researchers have studied the subject, but there are no definitive answers. What we do know is that successful entrepreneurs tend to have certain traits and skills in common:
- Personal characteristics.
- Interpersonal skills.
- Critical and creative thinking skills.
- Practical skills and knowledge.
11 Crucial Skills for Entrepreneurs
At the onset I would like to highlight a major point that none of the below mentioned skills for entrepreneurs would show miracles if your personal characteristics, values, and beliefs are not focused in the entrepreneurial direction.
Before you begin your journey of creating your business legacy it is essential to sit back and introspect if you have the mind set for it.
Being an entrepreneur can take an enormous amount of time and commitment, so make sure that it feels right.
We have listed out 11 bare essential skills for entrepreneurs that you need to master :
1. Digital Marketing skills for Entrepreneurs
In a time where the majority of people are to be found on the internet using digital platforms extensively, this is a skill that is indispensable.
Digital Marketing can help your business get its initial first customers, build awareness, and check for a Product-Market-Fit.
And the best part is, you can do all this at a shoe-string budget, unlike traditional marketing which requires deep pockets to even start off with.
Digital Marketing works very well for both awareness and customer acquisition and you can start even with a small budget. Once you start seeing some ROI, you can scale it up.
If you have no idea on how to go about online marketing, there are two ways for you:
- Learn it yourself and save the initial outsourcing expenses
- Hire a digital marketing agency or a freelancer or a team to do it for you
Both the options are great depending upon how much time you can manage and how much budget do you have when you start.
The best part is, you can learn digital marketing in a few weeks provided you get hands-on learning from a good mentor.
Of course, the learnings will have to be implemented to ensure successful imbibing of this skill set.
Digital Marketing is one of the most critical skills for entrepreneurs.
It does not just require doing a Digital Marketing course, but it also implies you need to keep up with the ever-changing trends in this dynamic field.
Digital Marketing is not just limited to posting on social media. It requires working on a well-planned strategy to reach out to your audience at different stages of the sales journey and then driving a positive ROI.
If you want to learn digital marketing with hands-on experience, you can check out our Cohort-Based Advanced Digital Marketing Course (doesn’t require any previous knowledge).
Click here to know more about our course.
2. Sales skills for Entrepreneurs
There’s a saying that “A founder is the best salesman for a company”.
I found out about this only after I started my own business.
When I was studying Marketing during my MBA, everyone (including me) wanted was to become a brand manager and no one had Sales as the first preference.
After working in Brand Management for a while, I realised that there was nothing more important than sales for a business.
It is a skill you can’t do without as an entrepreneur. The skill is so underrated and has a stigma attached to it and I think that is why many entrepreneurs fail to take their businesses off the ground.
The reason why a founder is the best person to do sales, at least initially, is because you know your business inside out like no one else.
There is no one else who will be more convinced about your business idea than you are.
So when you go to sell, you will put an unparalleled effort into making a sale and will be able to tackle any objections from customers.
As a business owner, there will be many tasks that you can outsource however Sales (or Business Development) is something where your constant intervention is always required even when your business has grown to a certain point.
You have to get comfortable doing outreach and meeting new business prospects.
However, do not mistake Sales for just sending cold-emails or meeting clients. It starts right from building the sales funnels and probable revenue opportunities for growth. And the whole effort needs to be measured.
Once your opportunities are identified you need to find the right sales channels which will convert better and start investing optimally in developing them.
If the thought of selling makes you uncomfortable, my advise is to start working on it today. This will come really handy in your career.
3. Branding skills for Entrepreneurs
Building a personal brand is as important as building a consistent business brand meant to connect with your target audience.
Let me share an actionable branding process with you:
- Identify your niche
When you are evaluating a business idea, it’s also important to get clarity on your niche. Your niche is your ideal customer.
Even the largest companies out there do this exercise to craft their communication to reach their primary customers. If people from outside this group come, that is a bonus.
Make sure you have a persona or an avatar for your ideal customer – their demographic, what do they value, what are their pain-points.
- Create a Brand Identity
After you have created the intangible assets for your brand, you can not decide the visual elements – the logo, fonts, color palette, etc.
These brand assets create a connection with your audience and spark recognition, which can eventually be turned into loyalty.
- Work on your Personal Branding
Now here’s the thing – you can’t just do personal branding without actually having anything to showcase.
But when you are building a business, making your personal brand that is connected with your business might actually help in building your company’s brand and vice versa.
Think Elon Musk (Personal Brand) <> Tesla (Company Brand)
One thing that could be the first touchpoint, with your personal brand, for strangers is your Bio. Your bio on social media or your business presentation is the pitch for your personal brand.
Make your bio enticing – drawing a connection between what you do and what your company does. It should make people ask you to tell them more about you.
If you want to see some examples of how to write your Bio, you can use this resource.
- Freeze on your Business Goals
Once you have finalized your Brand elements, the next step will be to put them to good use.
For that, you need to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) Goals.
These goals will serve as a roadmap for your business in the long-term.
- Create your Marketing Plan
The final step (before execution) is to make a plan on how you will go-to-market, which channels will you use, what budget will you allocate, how will you create an effective sales funnel and so much more.
Branding is a long-term activity so don’t expect your company to turn into the next Apple overnight.
However, it will surely give you a fair shot at expediting your legacy.
4. Financial Management skills for Entrepreneurs
To succeed in business, you need more than grit, hustle, and perseverance. You also need to manage your finances well.
Finance management can make or break a business. Imagine someone who can’t handle money. Would you as a client be confident handing your resources to them? In all probability, NO.
Below are some Financial Management tips for entrepreneurs:
- Set the financial goals for your business
Setting finance goals for your business is very critical for the growth and survival of any business.
These goals could vary from business to business. While there could be umbrella goals like “generating more revenue”, it is better to have more specific goals like “decrease costs”, “better profit margins”, “improve cash flow” etc.
- Keep your Bookkeeping up to mark
The key is to be consistent with maintaining records. It might seem tedious and futile in the beginning but you will realize that it is very helpful to understand the financial health of your business as time passes.
You can use simple Google Sheets or Excel Sheets to track the records. Or you can go for specialized free apps like Wave Accounting, ProfitBooks, Zipbooks, and Akaunting.
Financial Management is not limited to just handling your current monetary resources but also knowing when to seek out investment. In order to do so, you will need to present a convincing case and also showcase your ability to not just handle the money of the investors but to multiply it.
5. Networking skills for Entrepreneurs
A hard fact is that you can’t build the business alone. You need a few people or a team to help out, vendors and most importantly clients for your business to thrive.
In reality your first few clients are your family, friends and acquaintances. But you need powerful endorsers for your brand too. This can happen by building a strong network.
Go to social media platforms, join communities (Not just join but contribute as well!), make friends within the entrepreneur circle.
The idea is to be around people who are focused, understand your struggles and give you some insight. Remember “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
It also helps expand the horizons of your PR and convey the right message on all fronts.
6. Resilience to keep going
In order to harness the creativity and the plans that are conceptualized, you must have the courage to move forth on your plans.
Any business sees ups and downs, good days and bad days.
There isn’t any business endeavor that is a straight line to success. What is important is knowing how to manage the ups and downs.
Remember that every successful person out there has failed many times before reaching a win.
The mantra is – failure is not the end, it’s just a stepping stone on the way to success.
You need to develop the strength for handling rejections, stress, burnouts, sometimes even lack of focus, and slow movement.
Grit and enthusiasm to fight the same devil every morning are instrumental when it comes to making a business from scratch.
7. Communication skills for entrepreneurs
Mastering good communication skill is not just essential for your business but it is also an important life skill.
There are often people who are considered to be “good with people”. These are those who have good interpersonal skills are strong in verbal and non-verbal communication.
Crisp and concise communication is vital in each and every interaction with your clients, partners, vendors and prospects.
You need to be able to communicate well to sell the future vision of your business.
Also don’t mistake good communication skills to be limited to you speaking well. That’s only one sided. The other side of the coin which is necessary is Listening too.
Your ability to listen and understand information and opinions can make or break you as an businessperson.
8. Curiosity is underrated
Curiosity is underrated.— Kunal Shah (@kunalb11) March 8, 2021
To build a legacy, any great business person will have to take up the task to discover new problems, uncover potential niche opportunities, keep assessing their unique business processes and updating them.
This is only possible when you are passionate about understanding different fields of economy, market, and business cases outside of your comfort zone.
Learn new things, unlearn the things you’ve been taught in the past. Be humble and ask more questions. It will enrich you more than you can imagine.
There is a reason why curiosity is the secret ingredient that separates those who create a dent in the universe and those who don’t.
9. Time management skills for entrepreneurs
Unlike a job, your business needs your attention 24*7. You cannot shut your laptop at the end of the day and look at it the next day – especially if you are new to the game.
You also do not have the luxury to simply say: I don’t have the bandwidth for this!
Being an entrepreneur will require you to wear multiple hats at the same time. You will be a Salesman, a marketer, a finance head, an operations head, a customer support executive, an HR, and maybe even a janitor.
But since you are a human too, and you have business objectives to be met, you need to carefully prioritise, plan, define your milestones, and implement.
As an entrepreneur, you will find that Pareto’s Principle applies to your business too.
It says that 20% of the activities you do will generate 80% of your outcomes. That also means that 80% of the activities you do will not have much business impact.
So you need to write down all the activities you do on a spreadsheet and mark the ones that are critical for you to do and translate into revenue.
Double down on these activities. And for the other ones, try to delegate those activities to a team member or a freelancer. And you might also find the activities that need to be completely eliminated from the list.
There is also a number of project management tools available to track your progress. I have been using Asana for managing my work and teams for some time. Another popular Project Management App is Trello.
10. Strategic thinking skills for entrepreneurs
Strategic thinking, in simple words, is a thought-through and rational process of focusing on the critical factors and variables which have the capacity to impact the long-term success of a business.
It involves learning to deconstruct a problem to its root and uncover opportunities for growth.
You need to figure innovative solutions and create a coherent and comprehensive framework for problem-solving.
I am listing 5 tips to think strategically and apply them to your business:
- Think objectively without being motivated by fear
The idea is to take in all the available facts and insights available and then make a decision without being guided by fear or assumptions.
- Keep an eye on the future
Instead of dwelling on the past, try to understand where your industry is headed in the future. This will allow you to work on new products and services that might position you as an industry leader.
- Look for key partners and hidden opportunities even outside your industry
Most people keep looking for ideas and inspirations inside their own industry. That is where all your competitors are also looking at. Sometimes, when you look outside your own industry, you might find some hidden gems that no one else might have spotted. And that is where the money is!
- Keep learning
Just because you have left your classroom doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. As a strategic thinker, you need to be assimilating more information about your industry and how things work. You can use any of the channels to learn more – like books, YouTube, ClubHouse Rooms, Quora, Blogs, etc. Knowledge could become your finest asset as a business leader.
- Be decisive
As a leader and an entrepreneur, you will encounter situations every now and then where you have to make important decisions. In these situations, it is critical to look at the pros and cons in a very objective way and then make a decision in a short amount of time. This will also set a precedent in front of your team that you are a strong, decisive leader.
It’s safe to say successful entrepreneurs think differently.
As a business owner there will be times when you feel like: I will do this myself, I can do it better.
This might be true but remember your time is precious and you need to assess which tasks can be delegated and where your intervention is indispensable.
You need to be performing at your peak where your time is dedicated to solving problems and business development.
Like I mentioned above in the “Time Management” paragraph, apply the 80/20 rule and other techniques for yielding higher results in less time.
Learn to delegate! This is a mistake a lot of solopreneurs do – They hesitate to delegate. It is something which you will eventually have to do. The trick is to hire the right people with complementing skills to achieve business goals.
Being an entrepreneur is hard. But with the right skills for entrepreneurs you can make your journey easier.
There are some skills you are born with, some which you can develop with practice and some for which you will have to undergo training.
Think about the skills that you need to work on and get started.
The idea is to equip yourself with all those skills for business persons which will be instrumental for your success!