Being an entrepreneur comes with risks. Following your vision takes precedence over job security and regular paychecks. Although a good idea, a strong work ethic and a fair amount of start-up capital might provide a positive beginning, it won’t prevent failure.
Here are seven unexpected business skills entrepreneurs must master to succeed, along with tips on how to overcome the daily challenges you might face.
Thanks to the internet, it’s much easier these days to conduct the majority of your business from your computer without interacting with anyone face-to-face.
This has caused some to think that the days of the charismatic entrepreneur are over and we can all sulk behind our computers. Actually, it’s the opposite: communication skills are more critical than ever.
It’s surprisingly challenging to deliver the kind of message and tone you want through email, phone communication and social media.
Entrepreneurs have to make an extra effort to communicate effectively online to build the relationships that would have once happened organically in person.
If you have staff working for you, especially remotely, communication skills become dire.
If you’re unable to express yourself and your expectations clearly, it can affect your staff’s productivity or ability to deliver what you’re looking for.
You may not need to schmooze at cocktail parties, but interpersonal skills remain an essential trait of successful entrepreneurs.
Today’s entrepreneur needs to be able to write clear instructions and use increasingly distant communication channels to network and build relationships.
>> Learn More: Technology Should Enhance Communication Skills
If you’re not interested in learning, succeeding as a modern-day entrepreneur is almost impossible.
Those who thrive are the ones who make genuine efforts to learn new technologies and methods to keep their business on the cutting edge.
Not every task can be outsourced and, even if it can, you still have to have some basic knowledge of it to get the desired results.
That’s why a promising entrepreneur should understand basic SEO and how to do an A/B split test, for example.
Every entrepreneur needs the skill of curiosity, which drives them to learn as the playing field changes.
No one can doubt that an entrepreneur is passionate about their work. But it’s the ability to instill that inspiration in others that drives success.
In some ways, this is an extension of the communication skill. You need to explain things simply, then take it a step further to make the project resonate with your team.
Even if you’re a self-professed “solopreneur,” there’s no way you’re doing every task on your own.
For example, inspiring your network of influencers can be a major driving force behind your business.
If you can get others excited about your work, the momentum created can be tremendous.
Prioritize your time and spend it with those who challenge and motivate you. Seek out mentors in your industry or leaders that captivate you. The more you surround yourself with learning opportunities, the easier it will be to overcome challenges and forge your passion in the right direction.
An entrepreneur is not just the boss. They have an active hand in many different areas of a business to keep things running smoothly and cope with potential setbacks and failures along the way.
Anyone could get burned out in that environment, which might be why research has shown that entrepreneurs tend to have higher instances of mental health issues than the general population.
Entrepreneurs who want to succeed long-term must be excellent at stress management.
Essential to this skill is limiting the number of hats you wear (in other words, be OK with delegating) and knowing when it’s time to take a break.
Digital marketing has changed the game for many entrepreneurs. So much success is now contingent upon understanding the needs of consumers and finding ways to meet them with your business.
Entrepreneurs need to work to understand the mentality of the people who make their business possible, then cater their products, services, policies and marketing campaigns to those people.
You may be able to find someone to build customer personas for your content marketing efforts, but it won’t be effective unless the leader behind it all is as focused on the consumer as their staff is.
Now more than ever, it’s vital to have the skill of adaptability, the ability to change your approach.
As new technologies and services enter the market, they can change the landscape dramatically in months.
Just think of the impact of Google algorithm updates on businesses. Even huge brands like Mozilla, BBC and Overstock suffered the consequences and had to make significant changes to recover.
Great entrepreneurs must be comfortable going with the flow and making quick business decisions to minimize the impact of such a fast-moving marketplace.
Having a clear market niche is essential for a business to grow, but many entrepreneurs make the mistake of overfocusing on their corner of the business world.
The entrepreneurs who genuinely understand markets, what makes a successful company, business management standards and opportunities when they see them, are the ones with the potential for exponential growth.
Just imagine if Amazon had never expanded beyond being an online bookstore. If the networking site LinkedIn had never entered the social media space. Both might be gone by now.
Succeeding as an entrepreneur is no easy task. However, if you master the seven skills and follow the practices below regularly, you will have a well-rounded approach to improving your business’s longevity.
Entrepreneurs are responsible for many tasks, from coming up with their product to designing the market plan. Sway too far in one direction and you could fail quickly.
You must do your research. Take the time to draft a business plan and continue to refine it as your business changes. Your research should include how to reach your target market and financial facts and projections that would entice investors.
As an entrepreneur, it might seem logical to do everything independently since you are the driving force behind the business. However, it’s been proven repeatedly that you need to delegate to grow.
Take the time to hire top talent with the specific skills your company needs to succeed. Understanding what kind of employees you require and how their roles fit into the big picture can help you create a more effective company.
Delegate the tasks you despise and the ones you aren’t good at. Delegating will help you focus on your strengths and prevent stress and burnout when you face obstacles.
Only hire people you can trust. You won’t have time to micromanage so you need a team that can work independently but still discern if they should ask questions first.
It’s vital to always pay attention to your cash flow. As you hire staff, new team members want to help your business succeed, but only if you provide the necessities: consistent hours and an on-time paycheck.
Let’s keep it real. While employees should be invested in executing your business’s mission and growth plan, they have basic needs as well. Manage your budget wisely or you will be drowning in employee turnover.
Competing with larger companies can be difficult at first. Even if you are excellent at raising capital and focusing on organization, you must still catch up in the time department.
Automating daily tasks, such as customer emails, invoicing and payroll can help you improve response times and keep your staffing costs down.
Encouraging education opportunities for employees and yourself helps build skills, such as adaptability and vision. Advanced training builds confidence and enhances your team’s ability to do their jobs. It also makes your company more attractive to job candidates.
Workers appreciate companies that help them meet their goals. Investing in their future can decrease turnover, promote productivity and increase creativity. [Related article: 7 Ways to Create a Happy and Motivated Workplace]