There are certain weapons every would-be entrepreneur needs in their armoury.
First off there’s the passion and a genuine belief in what you’re doing – in an ideal world you’ll also have the professional experience and technical skills to back this up.
While most start-ups grow up around these qualities, there are various soft skills that, when taken as a whole, are just as critical in the day-to-day running of a small business.
Here is our shopping list of the essential skills we think you’ll need as you venture out into this brave new world:
1. Time management
Good time management is crucial in any professional environment, but it’s all the more critical when you no longer have a traditional 9-5 structure to fall back on. Successful business owners know how to prioritise their workflow, to delegate to others and to say ‘no’ when they have to.
Building a business requires finding ways to leverage relationships to create new opportunities. Some of us are better at finding and cultivating these openings than others, but there are a number of tools out there that you can draw on – online platforms such as LinkedIn and start-up events are a good place to start.
Leadership is a multi-faceted skill that requires an amalgamation of different competencies, including good communication and people management skills. However, in a small business it really boils down to being able to show people your vision, build a team around this and take them on the journey with you: you need to inspire people.
4. Public speaking
Being a leader also means being a key spokesperson for the business. As well as employees, you’re likely to find yourself having to communicate the value of your company to a variety of audiences: investors, the media and new clients.
5. Negotiation skills
With limited resources to call upon, it’s important you can secure the right deal for yourself, whether for your own purchases or for the products and services you’re providing. It’s about having the calmness and confidence to know what your needs are and to put these across.
Pressure is part and parcel of running your own company. Many entrepreneurs thrive in this environment and develop the resilience to deal with periods of stress. It all comes back to knowing yourself and the kind of situations you can and can’t cope with.
Every problem is a challenge that can be overcome or worked around. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ is a mantra for the entrepreneur. Problem-solving skills are essential along with a pragmatic attitude and a belief that almost anything can be achieved with a little out-of-the-box thinking.
Naturally, not every budding entrepreneur will score 10/10 in each of these categories. We all have our particular strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important you take some time to assess your own qualities and to identify the key areas on which you should be focusing.