“Ok, what skills do I need to become an entrepreneur?” An aspiring entrepreneur asked me during an event. I didn’t have an instant answer, but it got me thinking. What skills does an entrepreneur need to succeed? Or do they need some special skills at all to succeed?
We discuss all the time about the importance of ideation, validation, building a product, hiring the right team, and all, but we don’t talk much about the skills one needs to run a successful business. I started going through the conversations I had with tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, read between the lines to understand what skills did they had or lacked.
And slowly, I started seeing the skills those who succeeded possessed and those who failed lacked and noted them down. I noted down the skills most successful entrepreneurs had, and we are going to discuss them in this email. Trust me, if you are serious about succeeding in your business venture and entrepreneurship, you definitely need these skills. If you are missing one or two or a few, you should start working on them or find a way to compensating them.
Let’s get going.
1. Managing Money
Well, there can’t be anything more important than managing the money, right? That’s the skill most of us, whether an entrepreneur or not, lack. We suck at how we spend or knowing where the money goes. But if you want to be an entrepreneur and succeed in starting and growing your business, you got to get better at managing money.
It doesn’t mean you have to manage the accounts or proficient in accounting software, but you should know how much money you have, how much you spend, how much you need for the next month or the month after or until you can get the cash flow going and so on.
You need to know the details all the time so that you can plan things accordingly.
2. Spotting Trends
The next common skill I’ve noticed is, successful entrepreneurs are damn good at spotting the trends in their industry. They know their industry deep enough to see the changes coming ahead, how the market will respond to those changes, the emerging businesses and technologies, and so on. And they are good at leveraging and responding to those trends.
When you are a startup at the early stages, this is a critical skill to have. You should be able to spot and pivot according to the trends, or you’ll become obsolete because you’ll be bringing your old product to the market that has already moved on.
3. Hiring The Right People
Well, you are just as good as your team. You might have the most fabulous, most innovative, and disruptive idea out there, which could potentially become a unicorn, but it would earn a penny if it isn’t properly executed.
And to execute the idea, you need the right team. A right team is not the one with the right skills but the right mindset, too, because startups are tricky and every day may not be the same.
Working on an idea that could either become a hit or bite dust requires a different mindset. The team should believe in the work they do and the product they build, and without the belief, it will be hard to put the required effort to succeed.
Even if a single, non-believer can poison the entire team’s mindset, wreck and bring down the company. That’s why hiring is crucial and critical to success, and hiring the right candidate, and the team is a skill and an art. Successful entrepreneurs excel at it.
4. Training New Hires and Managing
I’m going to club two skills into one for the brevity of this email, but I would recommend you to treat these two as individual skills. Though they are highly skilled, new hires come from different culture, work environment, and mindset. You need to have an onboard process in place that ensures new hires know what you do, why you do, what’s their role, what’s expected from them and what isn’t, and so on.
And that’ll point them in the right direction, infuse confidence and increase the commitment level from them. Then comes managing them.
When I mention managing, I’m not talking about setting deadlines, following up regarding those deadlines, and so on. That’s not the way to grow any business. The work should happen automatically, and deadlines should be set and followed, even if you aren’t there. That’s the type of committed team you should build to succeed.
And you cannot do it through micro-management or being a stickler of rules. You can only do it through properly motivating and encouraging the team to take the ownership and responsibility of the work they do.
For that to happen, you should become a leader instead of a manager, and that’s a skill you need, and it can do wonders.
5. Ask for the sale
Out of all the skills I mentioned in this email, if there is one skill that can make or break your business, it’s your ability to ask for the sale, and that’s where most of the entrepreneurs get stuck. A lot of entrepreneurs feel asking for the sale is wrong, and they should focus on building a product that is so good that it sells on its own.
Unfortunately, it’s a myth, and it doesn’t happen. No matter how good is your product, unless you ask for the sale, no one is going to buy it.
Moreover, you won’t be selling it to your customers alone. As an entrepreneur, you should sell your idea to your friends and family first, then to your team, then to your customer, and finally to investors. You’ll have to sell an idea or a feature or a hypothesis or an argument or the product or the reason and so on.
It is something you’ll be doing a lot, and it’s the skill you should be good at. Entrepreneurs think they can hire a marketer or sales guy to sell their product or service. Well, you can, but they cannot do the job as effectively as you because it’s your product.
You know why you are building it, what it solves, and why your customers should care about it more than anyone else. The marketer and the sales team might come later when the product is ready for a much larger audience. But in the early stages, you should be making the sales.
Because making the sale means not just selling the product alone, but also facing the questions and objections, answering them, and collecting feedback in the firsthand. The information could do wonders for your product development.
Who else could be the right person than you?