Scientists tell us that over millions of years, humans have developed specialised skills that have allowed us to survive and thrive as a species. From learning to create and use tools, to language, and social skills, we’ve adapted and innovated however was necessary to be successful in the given environment of each age.
Whether you accept evolution as fact or not, one thing is clear: In today’s world, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, there is certainly an “evolutionary” process that we must all undertake. In other words, there are skills that we must each learn and hone in order to thrive in today’s business world, and we need to be able to adapt those skills to our surroundings, or be left behind with the “entrepreneurial Neanderthals.” Below are 5 essential skills for today’s entrepreneur:
Decision Making – No one can deny that the ability to make decisions is a core skill that every entrepreneur must possess if he or she wants to be successful. From the very beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, you must make sound decisions, first of all, about which business to go into. From there, decisions on how to proceed with marketing, funding, product production (in some cases), vendor selection, and a host of other judgments need to be made. The key is to be decisive and learn from mistakes, rather than fearing mistakes to the point that you avoid decisions.
People Skills – It’s often said that no matter what business you’re in, you’re in the people business. How true that is! Even if you have a dog grooming business, it’s the people who bring their dogs to you who pay you and make the decision to use your service over your competition’s, so you’d better know how to deal well with people. This is a skill that nearly every highly successful entrepreneur has, and those who don’t have recognised the need to hire a “face of the company,” often in the form of a CEO or COO, to represent them in the business world. Whether dealing with customers, vendors, investors, the press, or employees, well developed people skills can mean the difference between success and failure.
Planning – Being able to project into the future and build a plan to accomplish your objectives is a skill that can take any entrepreneur far. Effective planning is what will guide your company and ultimately define what you’re all about. The skilled business planner knows that planning is only an effective skill when combined with action, so they don’t get bogged down in planning, and they keep their plans focused but somewhat flexible. With so many facets to effective planning, it could be called as much an art as it is a skill.
Sales – Just as it is said that every business is a people business, it is also true that whatever business you’re in, you’re in sales. You might not be a salesperson in the “What’s it gonna take for me to get you into this car today” sense, but if you are exchanging products or services for money, you’re selling. And the more skilled you are at sales, the more successful your business will be. It’s not just customers you need to sell to though. Selling your business plan to investors, your job opportunity to potential employees, or your marketing to your target audience is all dependent upon your ability to sell your ideas.
Communication – If ever the term “last but not least” was appropriate, this is it. The skill of communication plays a role in the execution of all of the other skills above. If you don’t have this skill, none of the other skills will be fully developed, no matter how hard you try. You can’t be a great salesperson without great communication skills; your planning skills won’t matter if you aren’t able to effectively communicate your plans; you can hardly claim to have strong people skills without being a good communicator; and it won’t matter what decisions you make if they aren’t communicated properly to those who are in a position to execute them. So of all the skills listed here, start working on your communication skills first, if they aren’t 100%. It will pay off in immeasurable ways.
Of course there are other important skills to have as an entrepreneur. What would you add to the list? Be sure to share with the community in the comments below!