It has been said that being an entrepreneur is the best form of personal development you can do. What I think that means is you can’t hide from your fears and personal hang-ups if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur and taking that leap means dealing with ALL OF THEM!
Afraid of public speaking? Get over it because you need to do it to promote your business. Too shy to talk about money? Get used to it because you’ll be doing it everyday. Sheepish about asking for help? Success will not happen without a little begging and borrowing from those around you who can lend a hand.
These essential entrepreneurial skills go beyond the entrepreneurial basics of create, sell and manage your business. They are the ‘intangible’ qualities that make or break an entrepreneurial business during those tenuous early start-up days.
Essential Entrepreneurial Skills Every Start-Up Must Master
#1: Talking Money – Discussing money is possibly one of the toughest entrepreneurial skills to learn because it goes against what your grandma taught you about politeness.
This is one of those cases where grandma was wrong. You need to be able to talk frankly about money – what you charge, the value you deliver for that money, how to manage your finances (with accountants and advisors) and sometimes even reminding clients that their accounts are overdue.
#2: Public Speaking – The next most common fear is public speaking. Many entrepreneurs would rather be thrown into a vat of spiders before getting up in front of a room full of people to talk about their business.
As my colleague, Craig Ellis, once said, “Build a bridge and GET OVER IT!” You need to be able to present your business – whether it’s a client pitch in a boardroom or giving your 30-second elevator pitch at a networking event, public speaking is a must-have entrepreneurial skill.
#3: Selling – Selling extends way beyond getting people to buy your product or service (although without that skill, your business is sunk). But if you think about it, every aspect of running a business involves selling.
Everyday you are selling someone on something whether you are selling your employees on new ideas or directions, selling key stakeholders on your continued (or future) success or selling potential strategic partners on the value of working with you.
#4: Managing (and Protecting) Your Time – Besides the potential distraction in the form of email, voicemail and the ENTIRE Internet, the other main source of distraction is people who are asking for your time and attention.
That’s why protecting your time makes the list of essential entrepreneurial skills because as your business grows, so does the number of people requesting your time and attention. Learn how to filter requests and say no to the ones that don’t fit from the get-go.
#5: Dealing with Criticism – Business means putting yourself out there and that means dealing with rejection and criticism and learning to NOT take it personally, which is sometimes easier said than done.
Often that client who you really wanted to land decides not to work with you for reasons they don’t want to share, like they can’t afford you. Take it all with a grain of salt and learn what you can from the feedback and move on.
#6: Communicating with Crazy People – Aka irrational customers. The degree with which you need to deal with crazy people depends entirely on the type of business you are in, but it will happen so be prepared.
Sometimes you won’t be able to fix the situation – that’s when your diplomatic skills will be tested. Put on your best smile, listen carefully to what they are saying and give them an honest answer.
#7: Learning New Skills – The business environment changes, which means your business skill set also has to change. Look at how much marketing has changed in the last 5 years with the rise of blogging and social media.
Even if you don’t plan on doing it yourself, it’s important to learn enough to understand the big picture. Blindly outsourcing what you barely understand leads to more problems down the road. Be prepared to learn!