6 essential skills every entrepreneur needs to master
When you choose to become an entrepreneur, you pick “the path less travelled”.
Unlike a software developer, a salesperson, or a secretary, your career path isn’t laid out in front of you with clear steps up the corporate ladder.
Because of this, it can be a lot harder for anyone forging their own trail to get a grasp of the skills they need to master to give themselves the best chances of success.
However, there are six key skills that most successful entrepreneurs share.
If you want to build your business into a long-term success, focus on developing these six essential skills:
While you should definitely leave the accounting to a professional, every successful entrepreneur has a great grasp of the fundamentals of crunching the numbers.
If you don’t understand the finer details of profit projections and pension schemes – or at least keep up while your accountant lays them out for you – your business isn’t likely to last long.
If you’ve already got your business off the ground and you’re surviving without any real accounting skills, keep in mind that things get very complicated very quickly when a business starts to grow. Trust us – you’ll be thankful you got clued up on the financial side of your business before it starts to get out of control.
Don’t know the first thing about cash flow? Don’t worry – Sage’s ultimate guide to basic business accounting is a great place to start.
Marketing can seem complicated, but it boils down to getting your product or service in front of people who want to buy it.
When your business grows, you’d be well advised to pass the marketing duties to a professional (unless you find out you’ve got a flair for it). However, to get to that point you’re going to have to attract your first customers yourself.
This might sound daunting, but there’s no need to overcomplicate things in the beginning. If you’re planning to launch a business, you no doubt know your sector back to front. You also understand the problems your target customers have and how your business solves them.
Your job is therefore just to sum up the benefits of using your product or service and then get that message it in front of the people who need the solution you’re providing.
While marketing is simple when you boil it down to its essence, we’re not claiming it’s easy – if it was, we’d all be running international brands!
For help pulling together your first marketing strategy, use Hubspot’s marketing plan generator to come up with a 12-month plan in less than ten minutes.
If you’re determined to make a success of your business, you need to build a talented team around you.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the people you hire are going to be the biggest decisions you make in your business – especially in the early days.
Hiring top talent is whole skillset itself, and one you quickly need to get to grips with if you want the best chance of success.
The faster you can identify the skills you need to take your business to the next level and then hire the right people for those jobs, the faster your business will grow.
Crucially, this will allow you to work “on” your business rather than “in” your business, giving you the headspace to spot opportunities for growth and refine your strategy.
Find out how to hire top talent (and avoid making some very costly mistakes) by following Forbes’ four secrets to hiring the right people.
Building a talented team is only half the battle – if you want to retain your best staff and keep them consistently producing their best work, you need to learn to be an effective leader.
A lot of people think leadership is a trait you’re either born with or you aren’t. But the fact is it comes naturally to very few people, and most successful entrepreneurs develop it like any other skill.
If you want to become the kind of leader people will want to follow, read Inc.’s 21 ways to be a better leader.
While delegation definitely falls under the same umbrella as leadership, it’s so crucial to your business’s success that we’ve made it its own essential skill.
Ask any entrepreneur: their business is their baby. It can be hard to completely hand over the reins of even the smallest of tasks when you’ve worked so hard to build your business from the ground up with your own two hands.
And in the early days of your business, you might be able to do everything yourself.
But as it grows and you start to build a team around you, it’s essential that you learn to delegate.
A business owner who micromanages every little task is unlikely to be a business owner for long. This not only isn’t scalable – it’s going to quickly drive away staff with an ounce of talent.
So, while delegating tasks to your team so you can focus on continuing to build the business can be difficult, it’s an essential skill for any entrepreneur. Find out how to do it effectively from day one with this excellent guide from Brian Tracy.
If there’s one trait every successful entrepreneur has in common, it’s the ability to spot an opportunity and then seize it.
But the fact of the matter is this: you won’t spot promising prospects or understand how to take advantage of them if you’re not thinking strategically.
Start a business in the wrong industry, at the wrong time, or with the wrong offer and you’ll always be fighting an uphill battle.
Take the time to remove yourself from the daily grind and study the market from 20,000ft and you’ll give yourself the best possible chances of success.
Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. But at a business owner, it’s your job to spot the changes in your industry and prepare for them long before they crop up.
This could be as simple as weighing up whether there’s more demand for a bakery or a butcher on your local high street or as complicated as predicting the future impact of AI and machine learning on your industry. But the key is to approach these business decisions strategically, rather than following fads or your emotions.
The first step in thinking strategically is to set out a business plan for your idea to find out whether it’s got potential. Download a free business plan template from The Prince’s Trust and lay out your idea on paper. This will reveal gaps in your knowledge (“what does prompt customers to buy my products?”), which you can then fill in with research. Then you can make a fully informed and objective decision on whether it’s the right business idea for you.
So, there you have it. The six essential skills you need to develop to succeed as an entrepreneur.
If you don’t think you tick any of these boxes just yet, don’t be discouraged. Remember: they’re skills, and like any other skill they can be developed over time.
In fact, we’ve developed the DCI programme around helping you develop these skills. Sign up for our next cohort if you want to develop these as quickly as you can.