Most entrepreneurs and motivated professionals know the importance of investing in themselves, from building valuable skills to improve their strengths over time.
The skills that are important evolve with time and are different from what might have been most important a decade or two ago. A lot of that is based on technology, but some of it also is based on the way employees want to be able to work.
Here are some of the elements you can use to your advantage as you build a successful operation.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Technology
While business owners themselves do not need to be experts information technology, they do need to invest in employees or consultants who have that expertise. Retail businesses need point-of-sale (POS) systems that are compatible with mobile payment systems like Google Pay or Apple Pay.
It’s also important to have a web presence that emphasizes search engine optimization. Likewise, you should have a web developer on staff or to contract with one who has the SEO skills to make sure your online content is being seen by your target demographics.
Websites also need to be mobile-friendly in addition to being desktop-friendly to reach potential customers accessing the site through their smartphones.
Being able to do effective market research is an essential skill. This means finding a void in your community and filling it. Your business has to be unique, but you should be confident there is demand.
For example, there might be a half dozen pizza shops in town, but if your research tells you that’s still not enough to meet community demand, don’t be afraid to be the seventh. However, even if there’s demand for another pizza shop, you still want to offer something in terms of product or service that the others might be neglecting.Set yourself apart.
Knowing how to take advantage of social media trends is vital to any business trying to establish itself in a market. Social media evolves rapidly. Entrepreneurs with the skills to stay on top of these changes and know how to use them as an opportunity to get ahead of the competition have a greater chance to be successful.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Relationship Building
Making friends and building mutually beneficial relationships will give you the potential for big new opportunities in the future. Subsequently, it’s important to be active with your community’s business organizations and collaborate with other businesses as much as possible.
This means contracting or consulting with a local design firm when creating your new business’s logo, seeking out opportunities for cross-promotion with businesses that overlap with yours in some way, and sponsoring community organizations.
If you always do the same thing, you very likely will not enjoy new and better results. You must try new things to find what works best. You also need to enrich your live with new experiences regularly. This may be something as simple as talking to new people or taking a personal interest class. Each experience that you have can lead to new opportunities that you previously did not have available to you.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Hiring and Talent Sourcing
When starting a new business, it’s ideal to already have some people in mind who you know will be reliable and trustworthy. In the best scenarios, these are people who share your vision and want to see it come to fruition. While such scenarios aren’t always realistic, it’s vitally important to surround yourself with a strong core of employees from which you can build a staff.
This might represent only a couple of people, but those folks should fully understand what you’re trying to accomplish and complement your own skills well. For example, if you’re a talented chef starting your own restaurant, you might need an experienced business manager to help lead that aspect of your operation.
Trust these first few core employees to do their jobs and surround them with talented staff.
For your first year or first few years of operation, you should have goals that are broken down quarterly or even monthly. Plan out where you expect to be every step of the way in terms of financing, staffing, marketing, and any other relevant part of your business.
A detailed SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis always is a good way to get yourself and your team members to start thinking strategically. As you move through your beginning months and years in operation, it’s always a good idea to revisit strategies on a regular basis to make sure they still appropriate based on any changes with your business or the marketplace.
More employees today are looking for flexibility in their hours and their work locations, and recruiting the best talent often means being able to provide this. If employees can work a portion or all of their hours remotely, this can improve morale and efficiency. A telecommuting workforce can also help reduce overhead costs.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Financial Management
Knowing how to manage and grow your finances is essential. You might be a whiz with this aspect of running a business, but if you’re not, you need to make sure you hire someone who is. Expect to lose money early on as you build your brand and your reputation. This means you need to have enough start-up capital to cover early losses.
Once you become profitable, you need to have a plan for where those profits will go. Depending on the nature of your business, you might wish to expand, open additional branches, or invest in developing new products. Whatever your priority, have a plan for getting there and how you are going to fund it.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Failure Management
New businesses hit speed bumps and struggle at times. No matter how well you’ve planned or how great the people you’ve hired, an unexpected twist will create problems that need to be overcome. Knowing this is likely, you can budget for unexpected expenses and mentally prepare yourself not to panic. When you respond quickly and calmly to a crisis, your management team will follow your lead, and their staff will follow your managers, better enabling your business to navigate any storm you may encounter.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Ambition
It is easy to give up when the going gets tough, but the most successful entrepreneurs persist because of their ambitious nature. They want to succeed, and they thrive on reaching small milestones that are stepping stones to their major goal.
When you are highly ambitious, you may have an internal drive to work hard, and you may be committed to doing what it takes to make your business a success. Generally, you will not look for shortcuts and are willing put in the time necessary to get the job done right.
Many of the most successful business owners have suffered devastating defeats and failures. Rather than look at these events as an end to a situation, they have looked at these events as important learning moments. They maintained their optimism and perseverance, but they also made calculated changes to future efforts. Remember that you only fail when you stop trying. Persistence is the key to success.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Willingness to Learn
Some people think that learning stops when you graduate college or earn a special certification, but this is not the case. Education is a life-long process. You must stay updated with changes in technology, the evolution of your industry, sales processes and more. Always seek new knowledge. More than that, look for the most successful people in your industry and do not be afraid to ask for their opinions or advice.
Ability to Listen
You simply cannot manage a great team or run provide a great customer service if you are not an effective communicator. Communication is a two-way street. In order to communicate outwardly in an effective manner, you must pay attention to others’ motivations, hot buttons, interests and more. You also must be aware of non-verbal cues, such as body language.
Avoid coming off as being self-promotional or vain, and strive to show that you are helpful and interested in others. This can foster collaboration, get others excited about your goals and more rather than turn them off because you seem overly interested in your own self-interests.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Assertiveness and Confidence
While listening is important for effective communication, you also must know when you need to take control of the conversation and assert your opinions and beliefs. You should listen to others who are making reasonable claims and requests, but you also need to know when to say no. Be consistent yet open-minded to earn respect and trust from those around you. You need to know what you stand for, and you need to stand up for those beliefs.
Skills Entrepreneurs Need ## Courage and Risk Taking
In order to harness the power of creativity, you must have the courage to act on your great ideas and plans. While you need to research your ideas thoroughly, you must also have the courage to take an unknown step and try things that are unfamiliar to you. In the words of John Burroughs, “Leap, and the net will appear.”
Finding a successful path in life is rarely a straight and narrow process. Many entrepreneurs must take numerous steps to develop the right combination of skills, traits and knowledge to be successful with their efforts. If you focus your attention on nurturing these traits in your own life, you may be able to enjoy better overall success with future entrepreneurial efforts.
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