What skills do you need as an entrepreneur?
What makes someone a successful entrepreneur? It certainly helps to have strong technology skills or expertise in a key area, but these are not defining characteristics of entrepreneurship.
Instead, the key qualities are traits such as creativity, the ability to keep going in the face of hardship, and the social skills needed to build great teams.
If you want to start a business, it's essential to learn the specific skills that underpin these qualities. It's also important to develop entrepreneurial skills if you're in a job role where you're expected to develop a business, or "take things forward" more generally.
In this article, we'll look at the skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur, and we'll explore resources that you can use to develop the traits needed for success.
Some experts think of entrepreneurs as people who are willing to take risks that other people are not. Others define them as people who start and build successful businesses.
Thinking about the first of these definitions, entrepreneurship doesn't necessarily involve starting your own business. Many people who don't work for themselves are recognized as entrepreneurs within their organizations.
Regardless of how you define an "entrepreneur," one thing is certain: becoming a successful entrepreneur isn't easy.
So, how does one person successfully take advantage of an opportunity, while another, equally knowledgeable person does not? Do entrepreneurs have a different genetic makeup? Or do they operate from a different vantage point, that somehow directs their decisions for them?
Though many researchers have studied the subject, there are no definitive answers. What we do know is that successful entrepreneurs seem to have certain traits in common.
We've gathered these traits into four categories:
We'll now examine each category in more detail, and look at some of the questions you will need to ask yourself if you want to become a successful entrepreneur.
First, examine your personal characteristics, values, and beliefs. Do you have the mindset that's typical of successful entrepreneurs?
As a successful entrepreneur, you'll have to work closely with people – this is where it is critical to be able to build great relationships with your team, customers, suppliers, shareholders, investors, and more.
Some people are more gifted in this area than others, but, fortunately, you can learn and improve these skills. The types of interpersonal skills you'll need include:
You can improve your people skills further by taking our How Good Are Your People Skills? self-test.
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 skill that you can develop if you invest the time and effort.
You also need the practical skills and knowledge needed to produce goods or services effectively, and run a company.
You can also learn from others who have worked on projects similar to the ones that you're contemplating, or find a mentor – someone else who's been there before and is willing to coach you.
As an entrepreneur, you also need to be able to navigate the rules and regulations that apply in the country you're working in. These websites will give you a good start with this:
If you choose to learn more about a particular venture by working for another organization, be aware of non-compete clauses in your employment contract. In some jurisdictions, these clauses can be very restrictive. You don't want to risk your future projects by violating the rights of another entrepreneur or organization.
Armed with this information, assess your skills in each of these areas. The harder you work to build your skills, the more successful you're likely to be.
Having said that, many successful business-owners are impulsive, uncomfortable with risk, or belligerent with colleagues and customers. Still others have little business knowledge, and have simply hired the talent they need to succeed.
You can succeed without some of these skills, however, the more you're missing, the more likely you are to fail.
As you work through your analysis, you may feel that you're ready to take the plunge into your own venture. Alternatively, you may decide to wait and further develop your skills. You may even decide that entrepreneurship isn't for you.
Whatever your choice, make sure that it feels right. Running a business isn't for everyone.
While there is no one "right" set of characteristics for being a successful entrepreneur, certain general traits and practical skills will help you succeed.
By examining your own personal strengths and weaknesses and comparing these with those of the typical entrepreneur, you can get a sense of how well this career will fit with your personality.
Remember, becoming an entrepreneur is a career decision like any other. Do your homework, look at your needs and desires, and then decide whether this path is for you.
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