skills for entrepreneurs

10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Kerry Butters Start-ups and Entrepreneurship 11 Comments


In the past few years, it’s begun to feel a little like entrepreneurship is solely the domain of tech start-ups. Silicon Valley is the place to be if you want to attract the kind of funding that makes worldwide news and at times, it seems that a product doesn’t even have to be very good in order to obtain 6-figure investments. After all, how difficult can it be to make an app that gets everyone talking – huh? Well, it is quite difficult, and a lot of people are doing it as any foray into the app store will tell you. But being in business isn’t all about technology, and you certainly don’t need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg in order to qualify for the moniker of entrepreneur.

Businesses vary and the abilities of the people that run them do too – quite wildly in fact. So what sets aside the owner of a small business, whatever its form, and an entrepreneur? For the most part, it’s not about the size of the business, but rather it’s the approach. Entrepreneurs think big and like to take risk. They like to bring in outside investors in order to scale a business in a relatively short space of time. They think ahead and are super-ambitious and they don’t tend to be sentimental about their business whereas for many small business owners, their company is their ‘baby’ and they take it personally if things go wrong.

That’s not to say that small business owners aren’t incredibly good at what they do, or that they’re not vital to economies, because they are, they’re just not that concerned with ruling the world. And every entrepreneur isn’t successful by any means either. There’s plenty of bad entrepreneurs running around with great ideas and ambition, but an inherent lack when it comes to running a business. So what makes a great entrepreneur? What is it that separates them for the rest and ensures them many successes and a cushy lifestyle?

Let’s have a look at the essential skills needed by every successful entrepreneur and try to pin down what makes them great.

#1: Sales Skills

Being able to sell is something that is key to every entrepreneur. Even those that tell you they’re not natural sales people have the capability to sell or 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’s this ability that allows entrepreneurs to attract the funding that they do, because they convince investors that they and their ideas are worth time and money.

#2: Business Planning

To coin an old and rather tired cliché, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail and this particularly applies to business. Sound planning is vital to success as it allows you to build out on ideas (which often allows more to surface) and pick up any issues that might occur before they do. This means that you can iron out any teething problems very early on and ensure that they don’t get picked up by investors, who then refuse to pay up. Planning allows you to study the market, potential and existing competitors, how receptive the target audience may be to a product and much more.

Without planning, most businesses will fail to thrive and it’s not a one-off job for the start-up phase, it’s one that good entrepreneurs and business owners do often. After all, markets change and so do consumer expectations, so if you plan enough to study these things, then you’re ahead of the game.

#3: Resilience

Being in business is not particular easy as anyone who runs one will tell you. There are many hurdles to overcome and even with an excellent business plan, things never go the way you think they will. Stress is a common factor for business owners and the entrepreneur with her lofty ambitions and plans to conquer is as susceptible (if not more) to it as anyone else running a business. This is especially true if there are employees on board who are looking to you to pay their salary at the end of the month. It’s a big responsibility and one that has many an entrepreneur sweating whilst they wait for payments to come in. The ability to weather that stress and forge ahead is what separates entrepreneurs.

#4: Excellent Communication

To be an effective entrepreneur it’s vital that you hold fabulous communication skills. These are used across the board to boost the business in one way or another. The ability to communicate yours and your business’ worth is vital, as is interacting with customers and suppliers to negotiate. Again, it’s also important to be a good communicator if you have staff. They need clear direction and so if you’re not articulating yourself well then there’s a good chance it will affect workplace productivity. Social media is used widely by entrepreneurs these days too and the best of them know just how to adopt the right tone to get themselves noticed.

#5: Risk Taking

Taking risks that may seem slightly mad to the rest of us is a sure sign of the entrepreneurial spirit. Whilst many of us would feel some trepidation at gaining the responsibility of a large sum of funding, for example, the entrepreneur jumps in and starts buzzing with ideas on how she can turn it into even more cash.

#6: Multitasking

Entrepreneurs often have to be everything to a business, especially early on in their careers. This means that they will often have to take on a range of jobs which they may or may not already be skilled in. Entrepreneurs are flexible and ready and willing to learn new skills fast so that they don’t get stuck at a certain point which then inhibits growth. From business planning to sales and negotiation and much more, there’s always something new for them to master.

#7: Decision Making

Nobody ever got anywhere in life by hesitating and the inability to make a decision. Entrepreneurs think quickly, it’s in their nature and it’s the source of great ideas and so this helps when it comes to making decisions. Sometimes, it might be a snap decision, others it may be difficult to make a hard decision, but they get it done. After all, he who hesitates loses, right?

#8: Ability to Innovate

A good entrepreneur is one who know all about the latest technologies, techniques and ideas and uses them to their advantage. The way that technology has raced ahead over the course of the last decade has meant that we’ve seen many more people become entrepreneurs. This is because they have seen the opportunity that technology has afforded them and just gone for it. For the successful entrepreneur, it’s not all just about the ideas, but the ability to act on them, and that’s what being innovative is all about.

#9: Leadership

If you’re going to take the world of business by storm, then you’re inevitably going to have to lead at some point. Entrepreneurs should be good leaders, with the ability to communicate ideas and light a fire in the belly of those whom they’re leading. It’s about inspiring people to get the job done right and enjoy it whilst they’re about it. Good leadership skills are not something that everyone possesses and this is another skill that sets a great entrepreneur apart from the rest.

#10: Ambition

So maybe this one is a given but entrepreneurs do of course have to be wildly ambitious. They should have great ideas and the ability to take them to market in order to make a wildly successful business. They should have good nerve and not be scared off by finance, which is something that makes many a business person quiver. Ambition is the key driver behind every great entrepreneur, whether it’s personal ambition or just the will to see an idea through to fruition. Without ambition, the entrepreneur would never see how much of an impact they and their business could make, and so they would never get as far as they do.

It’s fair to say that entrepreneurs are made up of many things and as we’re all individuals, it does of course vary from person to person. However, there are some common factors found in all entrepreneurs as without them, many wouldn’t survive for long enough to be able to call themselves an entrepreneur.

What do you think? Do you see qualities in entrepreneurs that you think others lack? Let us know in the comments section below and let’s get talking about it!

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Kerry is the founder and director of markITwrite, a published author and an established authority in the technology niche. Kerry has a background in both publishing and tech and writes extensively across corporate & business tech, web development, SEO, social and marketing and gadgets. A lover of all things internet and the written word, Kerry is an avid reader, a prolific writer and something of a geek.

Comments 11

    1. Post
      Kerry Butters

      Perhaps, but many people come up with smart ideas but don’t have the skill to apply it. I can think of a few friends who have great products or ideas, but fail miserably when it comes to putting it all into practice.

  1. Henry McIntosh

    Hi Kerry,

    Great article, thank you. I’ve recently been interviewing entrepreneurs for a forthcoming e-book. I asked all of them: “What trait is important for entrepreneurs to have” and many of your list came up, especially resilience. They also added things like passion, in regard to being passionate about what you do. Perhaps akin to resilience, Fail Forward’s co-founder Pete Bailey suggested Tenacity was the single most important trait.

    In his words tenacity is important: “It’s that ability to keep pushing outside of your comfort zone, and keep pushing the boundaries of what people say is possible and impossible. Until you get to the point where you know you are achieving success- whatever that may mean to you.”

    Thanks again for the article and keep up the good work!

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  3. Vernon

    The importance of resilience can’t be overstated. I think most skills needed by an entrepreneur can be learned or developed as you go. But quitting is the surest way to fail.

    1. Post
      Kerry Butters

      Yes I think you’re right. I’ve learned along the way but the stress that a budding business can generate can lead to failure if you don’t learn how to deal with it. 🙂

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