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5 Skills That Entrepreneurs Need To Have

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Entrepreneurship is becoming more and more common, and the trend is set to continue in future; Generation Z, for example, has been dubbed “the most entrepreneurial generation ever”. As more and more people abandon the traditional career ladder in favor of starting their own business, it is worth taking a moment to pause, and considering the realities behind this society-wide sense of entrepreneurial spirit.

One of the major benefits of entrepreneurship is that it is open and accessible to all; anyone with a good idea can make it big, create a company that becomes their livelihood, and even offer employment opportunities to others. However, there is no denying that there are more would-be entrepreneurs in the world than there are successful businesses - so what makes the difference between success and failure? Is there something special about the entrepreneurs who are able to turn their business dreams into a reality?

Given that most of us believe entrepreneurship to be inherently accessible, it may come as a surprise to learn that, yes, entrepreneurs do need specific skills. Below, we have put together a guide to the five most essential skills that entrepreneurs require, as well as a few tips on improving your own abilities in this vital area.

#1 - Communication

Communication is a skill that is simply a non-negotiable for entrepreneurs. This is due to the fact that entrepreneurs have to be able to communicate with a wide range of different groups, including:

  • Their customers
  • Their employees
  • Their suppliers
  • Their fellow entrepreneurs
  • Their local business community…
  • … and many more besides.

What constitutes “good” communication is more difficult to ascertain, though as a general rule, you should strive to achieve a communication style that is assertive, clear, and impactful. Arguably the most important of these qualities is clarity; entrepreneurs have to be able to impart information succinctly and clearly, even when they are rushed, or stressed, or tired. Without clear communication, an entrepreneur will always struggle to get the best from the people around them, which inevitably means that their business will falter as a result.

#2 - Focus

Entrepreneurs tend to be very driven people; they set a goal in their minds, and they focus until they reach a point where that goal is achievable. This kind of focus is often difficult to achieve, especially if monotonous tasks are required during the process. Many people find that even when they are determined to reach a goal, their mind wanders and their enthusiasm wanes - but entrepreneurs cannot let this happen. Every step along the way is part of a long chain that will result in their business success, and that means they are able to focus on even the most mundane of tasks in order to reach that goal.

Entrepreneurs also have to be able to focus in a different sense; they have to be able to focus to get to the root of a matter. Entrepreneurs control so many different business processes that distraction is all-too-common, but good entrepreneurs are able to drill through the distractions and focus on the areas of the business that are most in need of their time, energy, and efforts.

#3 - Willingness to learn

Many of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world are depicted in the media as being savants; geniuses; incredibly gifted people who saw a problem and made a change through their own natural-born ingenuity. While this is undoubtedly true to an extent, most entrepreneurs are extremely aware of what they don’t know, and will seek advice, support, and additional learning to improve their understanding as a result.

Contrary to the most common media descriptions, most entrepreneurs are not innately gifted and uniquely talented. They have some natural ability, but everything else is obtained through years of hard work, dedication, and a enduring commitment to learning as much as they can about their chosen field.

So if there is an area of business you want to go into, but fear you don’t understand it, then don’t see that as a problem: it’s an opportunity for you to work on your willingness to learn. If you stay curious, remain fascinated by the sector you are working in, and always want to add to your existing skill set, then it will undoubtedly serve you very well during your time as an entrepreneur.

#4 - Foresight

Many of the most successful entrepreneurs are visionaries; people who see the way the world is today, and rather than trying to work within its limitations, do something entirely different. Steve Jobs, for example, was a true visionary; he foresaw a future where people’s interaction with the internet would be on mobile devices rather than desktop computers, and sought to make this a reality.

While few will reach Steve Jobs levels of success, all entrepreneurs need to be able to look to the future and imagine how the future will be. It could even be argued that entrepreneurs who seek to solve today’s problems are already running behind schedule, and that to genuinely future-proof a business, you have to look for the problems of tomorrow.

Foresight is an invaluable skill both for imagining the future of the business, but also of the world. It is a skill that can be the difference between a company surviving an economic crash or falling victim to it. If an entrepreneur is able to scan the future for both positive and negative potential influences, and then act according to their interpretation of events on the horizon, then this will stand them in good stead throughout their business career.

#5 - Financial management

Many of the skills that we have discussed thus far are so-called “soft skills”; skills that are more conceptual than practical. While entrepreneurs undoubtedly need access to these soft skills, there is a hard skill that they have to get right, or everything else is rendered moot. That skill is financial management.

In truth, this may be the most difficult entrepreneurial skill of all, because it goes against many instincts. If you have a wonderful idea that you are sure can be a profitable business, it is tempting to invest heavily. Many entrepreneurs mortgage their own personal homes to fund their business dreams, or spend money raised by investors as if it is a bottomless well. As these entrepreneurs are passionate people, overspending to reach their goal - a goal that, as discussed above, they are highly focused on - seems justifiable.

However, there is a reason that the startup failure rate is so worryingly high: poor financial management. Businesses fail for all kinds of reasons, of course, but arguably the most significant contributor of all is a poor grasp of financial basics and a tendency towards overspending.

If you wish to be an entrepreneur, then you will have to understand the theories behind sound financial management, and always be willing to weigh these against your ambitions. By keeping an eye on costs, and doing what you can to achieve your goals within a given limit, you stand a far greater chance of creating a sustainable business that is financially sound right from the outset.

Financial management is not the kind of skill that prospective entrepreneurs will relish working on, but it is the most important. Without a sound financial understanding, a business cannot succeed, no matter how innovative or revolutionary it is. So before you begin your entrepreneurial endeavours, brush up on the basics of business finance, and keep these front and centre in your mind at all times.

In conclusion

Entrepreneurship may be inherently accessible, but there is no doubt that choosing this path in life requires a specific skill set. If you already possess, or are willing to work to obtain, the skills as described above, then there is every chance that your entrepreneurial dreams could soon become a reality.


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