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Even though we are all born with different talents, there are essential entrepreneurship skills we need to develop if we must succeed as entrepreneurs. These skills can be grouped in 7 broad categories and can be developed through consistent and continuous practice.
1. PERSONAL SKILLS: As an entrepreneur the first set of entrepreneurship skills you need to develop are your personal skills. These skills are very important, because they are the basis of your character and eventually, they will become your personal habits. Habits once formed, becomes a powerful force that will propel you naturally towards success. Some necessary personal skills include:
- Hard work ethic: It is necessary to develop a hard work routine as an entrepreneur because every other skill you will ever require hinges on your ability to develop this skill. According to Thomas Edison, “success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
- Drive and Persistence: As an entrepreneur you must be a self-starter, this means that you do not have to wait for someone to tell you what to do. That is, you have to take the initiative to act. You must be self-motivated and energetic. Persistence is also considered as being more important than planning in achieving success. Irrespective of how well you plan, you are bound to meet obstacles and challenges, but you will be able to continue to push onward because of persistence. This is what separates the winners from the rest.
- Risk Tolerance: Risk taking is one of the many attributes of the successful entrepreneur. Many people are working for others today because they are afraid of taking risks. Risk taking is an essential quality that can be acquired.
- Resilience: This is known as the ability to undergo extreme stress without breaking. Many successful entrepreneurs have been able to build up their resilience and are now able to face challenges calmly, gracefully and peacefully, even when under severe stress. One such entrepreneur is John D. Rockefeller, considered to be the richest man in modern history, who was feared because almost nothing can shake his serenity.
- Personal management skills: Time management, ability to identify personal strength and weakness, stress management, personal discipline, etc. are all personal management skills that is required of every entrepreneur to develop. This skill is very essential to entrepreneurship and business management.
2. COMMUNICATION AND INTERPERSONAL SKILLS: Communication and interpersonal skills are required in order to work well with other people. People who have worked on developing strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal lives. Many people also use the term communication skills for interpersonal skills, but interpersonal skills cover more, including decision-making and problem-solving, plus working in a group or team. Top essential interpersonal skills to develop are
- Communication Skill: To be a successful in business, you must be able to communicate powerfully. You mustn’t be an orator before you can communicate. Communication is not only about just talking, in fact, you can be talking and nobody will be listening. Communication is broken down into 3 sub-skill set;
- Verbal Communication – What we say and how we say it.
- Non-Verbal Communication – What we communicate without words, body language and writing are good examples.
- Listening Skills – This is how we interpret both the verbal and nonverbal messages sent by others. Do you really hear what others are telling you? Your ability to listen can make or break you as an entrepreneur. Make sure that you’re skilled at active listening and empathetic listening.
- Negotiation, Persuasion and Influencing Skills: The ability to negotiate good deals, is a powerful skill that can make or break you as a business person. Also, you need to be able to resolve differences between people in a positive, mutually beneficial way.
- Networking skills and Team player: Your ability to form good networks and also work well in a team are very important skills you need as an entrepreneur. Highly successful entrepreneurs are extremely good networkers.
- Problem Solving and Decision-Making: The ability to Work with others to identify, define and solve problems. This includes making decisions about the best course of action.
3. SALES SKILLS: The ability to sell is an imperative entrepreneurship mastery for every entrepreneur. Even those who feel they are not natural sales people have the capability to sell else they wouldn’t get to where they are. Sales in a business doesn’t just take the obvious form of trying to push your wares but means that it’s necessary to sell yourself and your ideas if you’re to succeed. It is this ability that allows entrepreneurs to attract the funding that they need, because they convince investors that they and their ideas are worth their time and money. Entrepreneurs are either selling their ideas, products or services to customers, investors or employees every day.
4. LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Becoming an excellent leader is necessary when building a successful business. It is important for entrepreneurs to develop good leadership skills with the ability to communicate ideas and light a fire in the belly of those whom they’re leading. It is about inspiring people to get the job done right and enjoy it whilst they’re about it. Leadership is an art unlike other entrepreneurship skills. It takes time and practice to master. Skills that makes you a great leader includes;
- Focus: After setting a long-term vision, knowing how to “laser focus” on the very next step to get closer to the ultimate goal. There are so many distracting forces when you are trying to build a business, that is why this skill is not easy to master.
- Decision Making,
- Ability to recruit and manage the right people,
- Visionary: Ability to see the bigger picture and
5. PRACTICAL BUSINESS SKILLS: Every entrepreneur must also develop practical business entrepreneurship skills. These are the essential skills that are required to run a successful business. Essential practical business skills include;
- Goal setting,
- Planning and organizing,
- Money management skills,
- Customer relationship skills,
- Marketing and branding skills.
6. CRITICAL AND CREATIVE THINKING SKILLS: As an entrepreneur, you also need to come up with fresh ideas, and make good decisions about opportunities and potential projects. Many people think that you’re either born creative or you’re not. However, creativity is a part of the several entrepreneurship skills that you can develop if you invest the time and effort. Critical thinking skills include:
- Creative Thinking: This is the ability to see situations from a variety of perspectives and come up with original ideas. There are many creativity tools that will help you do this. Creative thinking requires you to develop the ability to think outside the box.
- Problem Solving: Entrepreneurs are faced daily with all kinds of problem; you should be able to solve these problems and to innovate at every step. Problem solving is a skill that is learned. There are several tools that can help you to master this skill.
- Recognizing Opportunities: Business moves fast, so you’ve got to have the ability to see changes coming in your industry. Do you recognize opportunities when they present themselves? Can you spot a trend? And are you able to create a plan to take advantage of the opportunities you identify?
7. KNOWLEDGE SKILLS AND STREET SMARTS: Your ability to acquire the right knowledge is a skill that every entrepreneur must develop. Another essential skill, is what is commonly known as “street smarts”. Street smart is your ability to survive and thrive in a dangerous environment. And God knows you need street smarts to survive in our peculiar climate. These are entrepreneurship skills are not taught in school. You need experience to be street smart. You need knowledge in several areas when starting or running a business. For instance:
- Business knowledge: Do you have a good general knowledge of the main functional areas of a business (sales, marketing, finance, and operations), and are you able to operate or manage others in these areas with a reasonable degree of competence?
- Entrepreneurial knowledge: Do you understand the rudiments of entrepreneurship? Do you understand how entrepreneurs raise capital? And do you understand the sheer amount of experimentation and hard work that may be needed to find a business model that works for you?
- Opportunity-specific knowledge: Do you understand the market you’re attempting to enter, and do you know what you need to do to bring your product or service to market?
- Venture-specific knowledge: Do you know what you need to do to make this type of business successful? And do you understand the specifics of the business that you want to start? (This is where it’s often useful to work for a short time in a similar business). One good knowledge skill is your ability to learn from a project similar to what you are contemplating, and your ability to find a mentor, someone else who has been there before you, and is willing to coach you.
Source: Excerpts from ‘Entrepreneurship Essentials‘ by Kingsley Omoruyi.