Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that they got where they are through hard work. That’s definitely true; starting a business and maintaining it takes tremendous dedication.
However, it’s also true that good entrepreneurs exhibit a certain set of skills that elevate them above the competition. It’s not enough to simply want to start a business. You’ve also got to have the skills and traits to execute on that desire and make it a reality. Here are some of the skills that are essential for starting your own business.
Good money management
Eventually, you’ll probably want to delegate the money side of your business to a fleet of accountants, but during the early stages of your operation, that simply won’t be possible. You’ve got to have a good head for money if you want to start your own business. If, for example, you’ve taken out £1000 loans to cover some of your operating costs (which can be a good idea, especially during the earlier stages), then you need to know when those repayments are due and how you’re going to make room in your budget for them.
Good networking skills
Being an entrepreneur is as much about how you talk to others and interact with them as it is about good business sense. When you’re meeting with other entrepreneurs and trying to make deals, developing good networking skills is crucial. Be a good listener; don’t assume that everyone you meet just wants to hear about your journey, because they’ll be on one of their own. Talk earnestly, sincerely, and passionately about what you do, and don’t lie or try to “play the game”. The time for that kind of entrepreneur is largely behind us.
No business has ever succeeded without some rocky moments. There are going to be times when it might look like there’s no way out of a given situation, but the measure of a truly great entrepreneur is being able to lift yourself out of those moments. Always examine every single situation for a way out, and try to think outside the box. If the solution to a problem isn’t immediately obvious, that just means you’re going to have to work harder to find it.
You might not think that having realistic expectations is a skill per se, but believe us when we say we’ve met plenty of entrepreneurs who didn’t have realistic expectations for their businesses and suffered as a result. While shooting for the moon is an admirable thing to do, it’s not always the right course of action. Making practical, sensible decisions is important for keeping your business afloat, and developing a sense for which decisions are the right ones will stand you in very good stead as an entrepreneur.
An analytical mind
You’ll probably spend a lot of time staring at analytics graphs and numbers and trying to figure out what they mean for your business. A good head for analytics will help you see past the jargon and identify trends in the numbers you’re seeing. If you’re smart, you can use your analytics to drive growth, helping you to understand where your business should be expanding and making decisions accordingly. Conversely, ignoring your analytics could lead to trouble for your business, which is why it’s a good idea to spend time with your data to fully understand it.
The desire to take some risks
No entrepreneur ever got to where they are today without taking a single risk. Many businesses branch out into areas that don’t immediately seem like good ideas, but pay off in the long run. If your business is an ecommerce outlet, for instance, you might want to consider stocking products that seem outside your immediate purview. You never know when you’ll hit upon a niche that hasn’t been served by any other company, bringing in a whole new audience and new business for you.
The ability to plan ahead
From writing your business plan to figuring out opportunities for growth, the ability to plan ahead is important for all sorts of challenges faced by entrepreneurs. You need to be able to think several moves ahead, to use a chess analogy. Take a look at the current state of things and try to work out where you’ll be in one year, five years, and ten years. Obviously, there will be lots of unpredictable factors that will get in the way of these calculations. Still, you should be able to make some educated guesses that you can use to inform your future business strategy.
Good time management
All of us could stand to be better at time management, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about “life hacks”. Good time management involves parceling out your time in ways that let you maximise the impact of each and every decision. It’s not just about finding a few minutes here and a few minutes there, but rather optimizing everything about your schedule from the ground up. Let’s just say that your calendar app is going to see a lot of use when you’re a business owner.
It might go without saying, but a great entrepreneur needs good leadership skills. You need to be able to take responsibility for your business; it’s not just about enjoying the successes. When things go well for you, it’s fine to bask in the success for a moment, but that also means you need to be able to step up and accept the blame when something goes wrong. Being a good leader is about inspiring your employees, taking charge of each situation, and meeting challenges that come your way head-on.