If I were to ask you ““What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? Do you have this or not?”, what would your answer be?
The most common skills that my students come up with are: passion, integrity, persistence, resilience, endurance, hard work, resourcefulness, drive, discipline, vision, initiative, innovation, problem solving, curiosity, leadership, teamwork, self-awareness and strong network. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Also, many of these themes are overlapping (e.g. persistence, resilience and endurance). In fact, all these skills are desirable. What if you could choose only five key skills, what would they be? What would these Fundamental Skills be?
Here is my list:
- Passion: You must believe in your idea. You must live it, dream it and breathe it. Others will feed off your passion. Passion will also get you through the inevitable trying moments.
- Problem Solving: It seems to me that almost everything about entrepreneurship relates to solving problems. Your business idea must solve a problem. You will undoubtedly confront many roadblocks and problems that you will need to resolve and overcome.
- Persistence: Doing your own thing is not easy. There will be challenges and a certain “stick-to-itiveness” is essential – “grit” if you will. You have to get through the setbacks that accompany any great endeavor. Resilience, resourcefulness and endurance all seem to fall under this category.
- Execution: Most enterprises and people, talk and plan a lot, but end up doing very little. Without execution, even the greatest of ideas is a waste. Simply put, you must have the capacity to get things done.
- Emotional Intelligence: You will have to deal with and understand a variety of people, build a team and convince investors, suppliers and customers. IQ and hard work can only get you so far. It is connecting with people – emotional intelligence – that will propel you to much greater success. Leadership, powered by emotional intelligence, will take you much further than being a charismatic spellbinder who cannot relate to individuals.
Integrity has not been listed as a factor because it is a given. You must approach everything with integrity. It must be the hallmark of who you are, how you choose to live your life and what you stand for. Why would you ever compromise this? If you are still wondering if this is a good philosophy, ask yourself what kind of partners would you like: Those with integrity or those who are likely to cheat you?
In addition to these fundamental characteristics, there are certain other specific skills – let’s call them functional skills – that will be needed by the enterprise. For example, if you are working on an app, you will need coding skills. Other skills that may be required could include website development, marketing, selling, research, creativity, making mock ups and developing financial projections. The list is likely to be long. Perhaps some of this can be outsourced, but that costs money and your budget may limit this option.
At this juncture you have probably hit the panic button. You don’t have all the skills that are needed. What are you going to do? Relax. No one person embodies all these skills. Let’s first ask ourselves: “What skills do I have?” Then you can move on to addressing the next question: “How will I assemble the skills that I do not have?”
Does this sound like a plan? To be continued…
Verinder Syal, Author: Discover The Entrepreneur Within