6 skills every successful entrepreneur must learn
Entrepreneurs are made, not born.
Entrepreneurship requires all-encompassing skills and abilities that other occupations do not even touch upon. Engineers draft plans for a new project, then pass the designs to others who will make it a reality. But for an entrepreneur, it’s different.
Every aspect of a new venture lies in the hands of the entrepreneur. They need to know everything about the business and take the roll as a visionary, project manager, salesperson and more. This doesn’t mean that all entrepreneurs need to get an MBA to learn these skills. In fact, a majority didn’t even have entrepreneurial aspirations while attending school.
Here are six attributes that every entrepreneur must learn along the journey to success.
1. Embrace failure
Entrepreneurs will fail -- more times than they will care to count. They accept failure as a learning opportunity and forge ahead.
A team of researchers from Duke University and the University of Southern California surveryed 549 successful company founders. These entrepreneurs listed their ability to learn from previous failures an important factor in their success.
Catastrophes happen, disappointments are part of regular activities and the faster entrepreneurs can accept it and move past it, the better they will be at learning from their mistakes.
Reaching overnight success is rare. Many people aim for instant success because they hear about it in the media and they believe that all it takes is money and the desire to put up a business. What they often fail to realize is that other’s success came from failures and lessons learned 10 years before.
Entrepreneurs know how to pause along the way and take steps to make a strategy. The successful ones have done their due diligence. They’ve worked hard and learned valuable lessons from failures that helped them on their way to the top.
Entrepreneurs are resilient. They keep going when the outlook is bleak. They sail a ship through the ups and downs of a business storm. They have a vision and they will continue until that vision becomes a reality.
2. Masters of delegation
Ideas don’t build a business, people do.
Entrepreneurs cannot run a successful company alone. It is essential to know how to empower others to join their vision.
The entrepreneur has to give up some control and put their efforts in building other people's skills if they want to build a scalable company.
Delegating is a skill in itself. The entrepreneur needs to work on the essentials while passing on tasks that others can complete. Being able to motivate other people towards your vision will bring rewards to the whole organization.
Even big-time entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg had to learn effective management. No matter how cool his Facebook innovation was, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere if he did not learnt how to be an effective manager.
Getting things done and making things happen is all about setting the right goals, determining the best way to achieve them, and getting everyone to execute it flawlessly. How do entrepreneurs accomplish this? Entrepreneurs are able to sell their vision and motivate others to work towards their goal.
3. Invest in people
Entrepreneurs know the value of networking and mentorship. They invest their time and money in people.
Building professional networks and surrounding themselves with people of the same mindset will go a long way in helping make their goals a reality. Entrepreneurs acknowledge the importance of seeking mentorship to help guide them along their business journey.
Research has demonstrated a stong connection between knowing and being an entrepreneur. In a survey of 2000 Americans by the Kauffman Foundation, 37.8% of respondents who knew an entrepreneur were entrepreneurs themselves.
Entrepreneurs also take the time to mentor other people. The time and effort that they spend on developing someone else’s skills will eventually pay off in the long term.
Entrepreneurs must leverage employees and other resources in order to build a scalable company. They learn to network effectively and meet the right people.
4. Have a finishing formula
Entrepreneurs are driven to finish what they start. They have laser focus on the steps required to reach their goals. There are plenty of distractions along the way, but they build a system and formulate plans to complete tasks.
Entrepreneurial leaders don’t have someone behind their shoulder telling them what to do next. They find a system that works for them whether that is a to-do list or an agenda.
Entrepreneurs know time is a finite resource so they take the time to prioritize. Oftentimes, there are multiple tasks that need to be accomplished and not enough time to do it, but the most successful entrepreneurs have mastered the art of juggling. They tend to work on the most important things before they tackle anything else on their long list. Without the entrepreneur shepherding the business in the right direction, the business will fail.
5. Learning doesn’t end in school
Entrepreneurs are ‘jacks of all trades, but masters of none.’ In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has popularized the idea of 10,000 hours of practice needed to attain mastery in a field. The time an entrepreneur spends running a company makes it hard for them to become an expert in a certain field.
Entrepreneurs don’t have to be experts, but they do need a wide range of skills. They have to know a little bit of everything in order to make their vision a reality.
It is infinitely easier to get a project off the ground with a well rounded skill set. Entrepreneurs have a well rounded understanding of their industry. They are financially literate, know what's going on in operations, and know their customers. The list seems endless.
With a constant stream of disruptive innovation entering the market, entrepreneurs need to be aware of any industry changes and they have to be ready to pivot their business models when a new product or service renders the old business model obsolete.
6. Follow their intuition
Entrepreneurs don’t have all the answers. Half of the time, they don’t have the time to figure out all the answers before making a big business decision. An entrepreneur relies on their ‘gut instinct’ in these circumstances.
Ninty-eight percent of company founders surveyed by the Kauffman Foundation identified lack of willingness or ability to take risks as a common barrier to entrepreneurial success.
Only the entrepreneurs who are able to practice and hone these risk taking instincts will be truly successful. One of the greatest and most famous entrepreneurs of our time, Steve Jobs, said that having a great instinct was one of the reasons for his success and business acumen.
Going with that entrepreneurs ‘gut-feeling’ regarding hiring people to help build the business is essential, especially in the early days of the business.
A person may look good on paper, but knowing how to tell if that person will live up to the written hype will spell the difference between success and failure. It’s important to note a person’s potential to grow along with the business and that can only be fortold with a strong intuition.
Decisions will have to be made without complete data. Sometimes, entrepreneurs find themselves in new territory or off the beaten path where there is very little research to help back up their decisions. This is where that gut instinct becomes truly important.