Startup Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Most budding entrepreneurs have a business idea that includes something they already know how to do well. Whether building houses, making pizzas, or planning weddings, knowing the operations side of the venture is only half the battle. Every startup relies on the success of the business side — planning, marketing, and financial management — as well as the basic skills of its fearless leader, to succeed.

Learning and Applying Information

The number one skill required of any entrepreneur is a willingness and ability to learn and apply new information. Whatever your current skills and experience in running a business, there is always more to learn. Every successful business owner must have a deep knowledge of marketing and financial management — how they work, how to manage and evaluate them, and how each aspect affects all others. The good news is that the bulk of this learning curve can be obliterated during the startup planning process. Building a comprehensive road map for your business idea will force you to work through both the marketing and the financials in such detail that you will know more about each than you ever thought you wanted to! Beyond the basics, every step forward your business takes will offer more information to learn and apply.

The ability to take in information from a variety of sources and synthesize the data into logical conclusions is critical. Business owners are faced with constant decision-making, often on the fly. All of the learned information becomes relevant to making the right choices at the right time. Developing your business idea will build the habit of researching and reading up on what you need to know. Make a point of continuing that habit throughout your entrepreneurial career.

 Successful entrepreneurs tend to enjoy the learning process and realize that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. All of the information synthesis in the world is only useful if you can make good decision. Business decisions should be primarily based on logic, not emotion. Successful entrepreneurs find a way to separate emotion from logic to allow themselves to weigh alternatives fairly. Basic logic skills are a must, and can be difficult to develop for those who are particularly emotionally driven.

Communication Skills

Successful business owners also need substantial interpersonal skills. Whether in-person or online, you must be able to communicate effectively. Good habits are developed through practice. If you are uncomfortable with public speaking, consider joining a Toastmasters club in your area. In addition to offering practice in giving actual speeches, a good club will work on networking skills, running a meeting and other critical communication skills. Shop around for a club with a good fit — most cities have plenty of clubs to choose from.

Networking with other professionals and dealing with customers in person also requires strong conversational skills. Develop the habit of keeping your personal and business lives separate. Be interested in what others have to say — effective listening is even more important than effective speaking. Ask good questions, and look for ways to develop your reputation as a strong networking contact. Practice your in-person communication skills everywhere you go. Talk to the clerk of the grocery store, the teller at the bank, and the other parents at Little League. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, but just keep practicing.

If you will be networking or marketing online, be sure your grammar and spelling are perfect. No matter how great the content of your website, forum postings, or chatroom discussions, misspellings and poor grammar make it hard to take the writer seriously. Also, watch the tone of any online messages, including eMail. Because of the one-dimensional aspect of online messages, it can be easy to misread the underlying meaning. Record every online message before you post, and put yourself in the recipient’s place — if it sounds short or rude to you, it probably will to them. Use spell check and grammar check when possible, as well.

Organizational Skills

Organizational skills are also important for business owners. You will have 392 tasks to do at any given time, plus five minor fires to put out, plus the dog needs to go to the vet. If you don’t develop a time and task management system that works for you, you will spend all of your time stressed out, in the weeds, and ultimately unproductive.

Use an actual planner to organize your time. Consider a smart phone in addition to keep you accessible and organized. Plan your days and work sessions around specific objectives and hold yourself accountable for meeting the objectives. It helps if you are inherently goal-oriented, but that, too, can be developed with practice. By thoroughly developing your business idea step-by-step, you will build a habit of managing your work life effectively. Typically, this organization will carry over into your day-to-day responsibilities as a business owner.

Successful entrepreneurs in any industry share a basic set of skills. The ability (and willingness) to learn and apply new information and the ability to make good decisions are critical from day one of planning a startup. Interpersonal communication and organizational skills should always be in a state of continuous improvement. Successful entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve themselves and their businesses, and are willing to put in the time and effort to see those improvements through.

Source by K. MacKillop

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