Anyone can be an entrepreneur — but success in entrepreneurship typically occurs when an individual has the right skills, knowledge, work ethic and, of course, luck. Before you quit your day job and throw everything you have into your business idea, you might want to spend some time perfecting the following abilities, which will decrease your dependence on luck and increase your chances of achieving the entrepreneurial success of your dreams:
Communication is arguably the most important skill for any business professional to develop, but it is even more valuable for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs communicate extensively about their business idea to all manner of professionals: investors, lenders, job candidates, partners, clients and consumers. What’s more, entrepreneurs utilize each and every communication method to build awareness of their business idea and grow their startup.
Starting yesterday, you need to practice your communication skills in a concerted way. You should put greater effort into the way you communicate, and you should experiment with all communication methods: verbal, written, behavioral, in-person, digital, long-form, short-form and more. The more consciously you communicate, the more adept at communication you will become.
Financial literacy is the knowledge and skill required to make good financial decisions. Unfortunately, financial literacy is not remarkably high, even amongst white-collar professionals; though studies vary, somewhere between one-half and one-third of Americans are not sufficiently financially literate to build and maintain personal wealth. Because managing finances is such a significant component of entrepreneurship, it should go without saying that financial literacy is a must for prospective business owners and leaders.
Fortunately, you can improve your financial literacy. You can take courses to improve your financial literacy online or through your local community college, or you can systematically read blogs that fill in the gaps of your financial knowledge. You should pay particular attention to resources aimed at business leaders, like this guide to how small business loans work.
Success in entrepreneurship almost certainly involves building a company that is staffed with employees. As the owner, you will be the primary leader of your organization — and that means you need to feel comfortable and confident with various leadership skills. Some essential skills of leadership you must master before launching your startup include:
- Vision, or knowing where the company needs to go to achieve success and inspiring others to work toward that goal.
- Problem-solving, or recognizing and overcoming obstacles with effective strategies.
- Decisiveness, or assessing options and taking action quickly to accomplish goals.
- Courage, or having willingness to take calculated risks to achieve success.
- Flexibility, or being able to alter an established strategy given new information.
- Delegation, or assigning tasks to the right members of your team without creating undue burdens.
- Creativity, or using unconventional methods to improve systems for greater business success.
- Empathy, or understanding the needs and desires of others on your team to create a healthy and productive environment for all.
No entrepreneur is perfect. Personal flaws are part of the human condition, and even the most successful entrepreneurs have weaknesses. Instead of trying to ignore your personal limitations, you need to explore them fully and come to know your blind spots. If you struggle with self-awareness, you might ask a mentor, close supervisor, friend or family member to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses for you.
Once you are aware of your deficiencies, you can take the appropriate steps to mitigate them in your business plan. For some, you might invest more heavily in education and training to improve yourself; for others, you might choose to hire talent with complementary skills to cover your business needs. You should continue to evaluate yourself throughout your entrepreneurial career, as your strengths and weaknesses are apt to change.
Procrastination and entrepreneurship do not mix. Entrepreneurs must be proactive about accomplishing tasks, identifying problems and developing strategies — or else their businesses are all but certain to fail for any number of reasons. If you have not historically been a person to get up and get things done, you might want to reprogram yourself before you dive into entrepreneurship.
There are several ways to practice proactivity, from recognizing what is under your control and taking full responsibility for it to thinking more critically about your limited time to achieve your dreams.
You can become an entrepreneur today, but you will find more satisfaction in your career if you take the time to build the skills you will need to achieve success.