If you’re thinking about forming your own company, you most likely know the importance of investing in yourself, building valuable skills and improving on your strengths. Aside from learning the basics around running a business, confidence and self-motivation are traits a successful entrepreneur must possess. And although starting your own business seems more attainable than ever, without strengthening certain skills, your company may not be successful.
There’s no doubt about it — honing your entrepreneurial skills will give you a greater chance of success. We’ve done some research and found the top skills every entrepreneur should strengthen to maximize their chances of success:
Communication: Communication is key in any capacity. Owning your own business requires you to communicate with business partners, customers, employees, vendors and more. If your communication lacks clarity and impact, things can go sour quickly. Effective communication can not only create productivity, but bring new ideas to fruition faster and clearer. Seek feedback from your peers in areas you can improve.
Financial Management: Knowing how to manage and grow your finances is a key driver in your company’s success. You may not be able to hire an accountant when you first start out, so if you lack the ability to manage your finances, it exposes you to risk of running out of cash flow. Learn how to read basic financial statements, understand what it costs to run your business and how to price your products or services. Also, learn what your financing options are (a small business loan or credit card, for example).
Sales: A company that is unable to sell its products or services will very quickly go out of business. For example, let’s say you are a painter. Even if you're one of the most talented painters around, you still need to actually sell that painting. Even if you’re a new freelancer, you need the ability to sell yourself to keep your business running. Additionally, if you need funding, you’ll have to sell investors on the strength of your idea.
Strategic Thinking: There’s more competition than ever in business now; having the ability to make strategic decisions will set you apart from your competition and make you indispensable. You must be able to strategize to achieve long-term goals. Think about breaking down big goals into small wins that lead to major successes over time. This also includes having the knowledge and understanding to test and validate your products or services.
Stress Management: Starting your own business is rewarding, but it’s also challenging. There will be episodes of disappointment, struggles, and stress. Having the ability to manage stress will be key to staying afloat. Each person is different, but there are many ways to manage stress, such as staying organized, changing your mindset, exercising or participating in hobbies. Learning to manage your stress will help your business be more successful while keeping you happier and healthier.
Failure Management: No one goes into owning a business thinking they're going to fail. However, it’s more common than you think. Maybe you launched a product that you felt was unique in the industry, but consumers were not receptive. All failures can be devastating, but major failures can completely ruin your motivation and affect you for weeks, months or even years. An entrepreneur should possess the skills to take that failure, understand what went wrong, learn from it and jump right back in. Failure is part of learning and growing as a business professional.
Commitment to Learning: Learning is a never-ending process, so it’s important to try to continue to improve yourself, especially as an entrepreneur. Staying on top of innovations and developments in your industry, attending seminars, and reading up on industry news are all options to stay informed.
Hiring: Eventually, your business could get large enough that you need to start hiring people to help you tackle the work and achieve your goals. It’s important to be able to identify the right people to hire. This is your business — don’t settle for just anyone; be selective and methodical when searching. Identify the type of culture your business has, and decide whether this person will strengthen that culture and bring value to your business. Establish a process and checklist, which can evolve after each hire to help you know exactly who you're looking for.
A business owner often wears many hats, especially when they’re first starting out. This list may make you feel like you need to be a jack-of-all-trades, but it’s important to sharpen these skills before setting out to improve your chances of success.