To be an entrepreneur requires a wide array of skills, ranging from financial planning to human resource management. Yet if you’ve got a good idea and a commitment to making it work, you can pick up most of these skills along the way. Throughout the course of your business ownership, you’ll inevitably make mistakes, learn valuable lessons and gain experience that teaches you all of these skills over time. Yet this style of learning can sometimes come too late, and there are some skills you need to learn early on before they come back to haunt you. I recently came across an article that features five skills that are necessary for an entrepreneur to know, listed below:
Research: For the planning, launch and ongoing running of a business, this is an important one. You need to research the market, your competitors, your problems, your employees and your clients. This is both an art and a science, with both practical rules to follow and an instinctual element to success. Proper research can solve or prevent nearly any common problem in the earliest courses of business development.
Focus: While focus is just as much a personality trait as it is a skill, it can be initiated, developed and honed over time. Focus does come naturally to some people, but it’s a lot more difficult for others to achieve. Learn which habits and environments maximize your focus, then work on refining that ability as quickly as possible.
Cash management: For the first few years of a startup, where money is limited, this is particularly important. Since earning more than you’re spending is such a strong indicator to long-term success, then profitability is particularly important. Yet even profitable companies are susceptible to poor cash management, which will lead to bankruptcy. You’re responsible for ensuring that you have enough free cash to cover all of your operating expenses, so you need to cut all unnecessary costs, watch carefully for due dates and follow up on invoices to ensure timely payment. No pun intended, but you can’t “afford” to learn this too late.
Communication: As an entrepreneur, you need to communicate with investors and partners to ensure the business is on the right track, with clients and customers to sell your idea and with your employees to establish direction and responsibilities. You’ll also need to establish cross-communication channels within your organization to ensure that there aren’t any hiccups. Any business without a stable framework of communication is destined to fail, although it’s difficult to “teach” communication skills. The only way you can get better is to practice with other people, so hone your interpersonal communication skills by attending networking events and working closely in a team setting.
Learning: Being able to learn is a major skill, even though it’s almost impossible to learn directly. It takes practice to effectively master the proper techniques of learning. Mentors are a major source of learning for new entrepreneurs, since they have plenty of experience. If you don’t have access to a mentor directly, then there are plenty of alternatives to develop yourself as a business leader: attend networking events and public seminars, webinars and take free online courses. Read widely, and commit yourself to a constant stream of learning. If you can effectively and consistently learn, then you won’t have a problem building the other necessary skills for entrepreneurship.