We all need skills to thrive in any endeavour we embark on.
Whether you are joining a football club newly or becoming a new parent, essential skills will help you succeed.
Entrepreneurship is not an exception.
If you want to function well as a smart entrepreneur, achieve your sales goals and expand your business, you need to possess essential 21st-century skills.
These skills will help you function well in your capacity as a business owner in dealing with team members, meeting your customers’ needs and other scenarios.
If you recently started a business, you are a start-up founder or you are considering testing the waters of entrepreneurship, you need to be fully aware of what skills you need to become a successful 21st-century business mogul.
Sad to say, the soft skills we need to thrive in the highly digital and competitive market place we find ourselves are hardly taught in our schools.
The onus lies on you as a business owner to go out of your way and acquire the crucial skills entrepreneurs need to succeed in your business– not minding whether one already has a Master’s Degree or a B.Sc.
A wise person will always consider the cost of a building before embarking on the building project. They don’t want to become penniless and end up with an uncompleted building.
Similarly, you need to consider the skills needed for you to grow a successful business and see if it’s within your reach to develop those skills.
In this article, we will consider 11 skills you need to boost your business growth as an entrepreneur doing business anywhere in the world in this time information economy.
13 Top Skills Smart Entrepreneurs must Have
- Critical Thinking
“Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas”. – Skills you need
You’ll agree that every adult – not only entrepreneurs – ought to be able to think clearly and objectively without being biased, able to examine and understand all factors involved in a subject.
Perhaps a further explanation from the same source will further clarify the meaning of critical thinking for you as a layman:
“Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value.
They will always seek to determine whether the ideas, arguments and findings represent the entire picture and are open to finding that they do not”.
You may want to as how does critical thinking help you as an entrepreneur to be successful in your business?
You are able to make more informed choices and decisions and this result in the good of your business rather than otherwise.
Let’s use this simple illustration.
A young man approaches you with a new business idea that on the surface level looks fantastic and promising.
To apply critical thinking, you would use your reasoning ability to think reflectively about the business idea and the owner of the idea.
You may then go ahead to ask questions like: why does he bring the idea to me? Why does he want to share such a fantastic idea with another person? Why is the business idea too good to believe? Etc.
Thinking critically and objectively about these questions will lead you to make an informed decision either venturing into the business or not.
- Complex Problem Solving
While I will not want to go into details of complex problem solving here – I don’t think you need its technicalities – I will like to stress that problem-solving skill is in fact one of the top skills you need to have as an entrepreneur if you want your business to grow should and last long.
We encounter problems everywhere and every day in the workplace, at school, in the home front etc. It doesn’t matter what problems arise, it is how we go about solving them that really matters.
Problem-solving skill will help you as an entrepreneur to identify, examine, analyse, research, find and apply solutions to problems that may arise in your business.
For example, let’s say you constantly receive complaints from customers about a certain product. How would you solve this problem that threatens the very existence of your enterprise?
Well, if you want to apply complex problem-solving skill, you would have to treat the cause and not just symptoms of the problem.
This scenario would require that you find out what may be the root cause of the problem, analyse it and tackle the problem in the best way possible within a reasonable time frame.
These 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem-Solving Skills will be very helpful.
- Interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills are those skills that you employ daily in your business to interact properly with team members and even clients or customers.
Some possess this vital skill naturally, while for many – I inclusive – it requires effort to learn to cultivate these skills.
As long as you are exposed to people and you have to communicate with them, you would need to learn how to relate with people in the most acceptable and inviting way.
You should also know that most of these skills are also interwoven. For example, if you have a problem-solving skill that we earlier discussed, you already are a few steps into learning an interpersonal skill.
Other interpersonal skills you may want to pay attention to specifically if you want to achieve better outcomes in your business are:
- Relationship management
- Body language
- Positive attitude
- Workplace ethics
- Gratitude, etc.
Put in simple terms, networking is a technique of presenting yourself effectively when you meet people so that they will want to meet and deal with you again.
Am sure you don’t want to contest the fact that you need this skill as an entrepreneur.
Who needs to meet people and create a good impression if not an entrepreneur?
You have a business to promote and as many people to reach your business gospel as possible.
Networking is not as hard as it sounds. I gave some of the best networking advice, tips and practices of all Here. You may want to scan through.
13 Skills Entrepreneurs Need To Grow Their Businesses Successfully
- Emotional intelligence
‘Emotion intelligence’ is one phrase I am sure you must have heard over and over again in recent times.
Yes, there seems to be a rush into the subject but I tell you, emotional intelligence skill is a life-saver!
You need to develop emotional intelligence skill to achieve better outcomes for your business.
What then is emotional intelligence?
Put in the simplest terms, emotional intelligence is your ability to study, understand and manage your emotions and that of others around you.
As a business owner, you come across whose emotions you would need to understand so as to avoid unnecessary friction and achieve a smooth running if the daily dealings in your enterprise.
Emotional intelligence includes three skills:
Emotional awareness: The ability to know when and what feelings we and others are presenting. It involves being able to identify these emotions and act in response to them.
Emotion harnessing: The ability to control or act on emotions to enable improved relationships with others.
Emotion management: The ability to able to envisage, understand, leverage on emotions positively.
- Communication skills
In handling the sales, human resources, and management aspects of your business and other matters related, you need to develop effective communication skills.
Most entrepreneurs fall in the category of ‘solo entrepreneurs’ at least in the first few months of their business.
If you happen to also fall in this category, for now, it means you function simultaneously as a marketer, sales executive, customer care personnel and other portfolios.
In performing these numerous tasks, you would have to talk and write out letters pertaining to your business.
If you cannot speak averagely well or write without avoidable errors, then things may be a bit difficult.
However, you need to bear in mind that you do not need a degree in Mass Communication be able to communicate effectively in your business dealings.
As they say, Google is your friend. You can always consult Google if you have any challenges in writing business letters or any other communication issues.
- Leadership skill
Leadership skills are skills that enable you to guide and influence others while achieving your organizational goals.
As a smart entrepreneur, you need these skills because you have goals that you want to achieve which you can’t achieve without the contributions of your team members or employers.
Therefore, you need to learn how to take the lead in your organization.
In this time and age that we live in, the world is gravitating toward ‘servant leadership’ type of leadership.
This service orientation leadership perspective encourages leaders to give priority to the needs and grievances of workers at the bottom of the pyramid even before they articulate those needs.
Personally, I will recommend this type of leadership for you if you want your team to perform at their best and help nurture your business into the desired state.
In most organizations, those in the bottom of the pyramid literarily worship their leaders while the leaders greedily encourage them to keep dolling out such acts of worship.
You need to flip things up a bit. Accord your workers respect no matter how junior they are. Support them and their families in the little ways you can.
You will see the outcomes as they put in their very best in your business in turn.
According to Creativity at work
“Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing”.
As an entrepreneur, creativity will help you to develop innovative solutions to problems that rear their heads in business.
Creativity is needed in many aspects of our lives to make life better and interesting. Creativity is largely innate. This means it’s not everyone that is naturally creative.
However, we can learn to unlock our creativity by engaging in certain activities such as meeting people or networking experimenting with things, questioning conventional wisdom, observing the behaviours of customers/clients, competition and team members etc.
- People management skill
Every entrepreneur’s prayer is to grow their business to the stage where they can employ one or two people who would help meet increasing business demands.
You need to develop people management skills to be able to build and maintain a good relationship with these people that you would employ for a smooth running of your business.
More importantly, you need to be able to help your employees get the best out of themselves so they can, in turn, contribute their very best to the overall bottom line your business.
Some people management skills you should be particularly interested in developing for your business purpose are:
Learn to show empathy
Lear to reward and recognize staff
Learn two-way communications
Learn to connect with your members
Learn how to provide opportunities and professional development for your staff.
10. Time management
13 Entrepreneurial Skills You Should Have
One of the top secrets of some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world and some of the richest entrepreneurs in Nigeria is that they have mastered how to effectively manage their time.
Time is a luxury that a lot of entrepreneurs cannot afford. We live in the information economy where we have just too many information bombarding us at the speed of the light.
But unknown to many, once a person starts running their own business, they automatically have a lot of time to themselves. How wrong!
As a business owner yourself, am sure you can prove this wrong. In fact, successful entrepreneurs are some of the busiest people in the world.
Attending meetings with clients; receiving and responding to emails, ensuring that customers’ needs are met, ensuring that products meet standards, looking for collaboration opportunities among others are some of the task entrepreneurs daily attend to.
If you learn how to manage your time effectively, you will surely be more productive.
If not, some of these tasks will suffer from a negative result on your bottom line.
- Attention to detail
What does it mean to pay attention to detail? Attention to detail means being thorough, accurate, and consistent while carrying out a task. It means keenly observing and concentrating when performing a duty.
Paying attention to detail comes naturally to some people while others though have to learn how to be meticulous through years of experience and practice that come with the work.
If you fall within the latter category, get ready to make lots of mistakes but then, you will definitely become better eventually.
From replying emails to writing out proposals or responding to comments on social media, learn out to pay attention to what you are putting out there.
Once you press the SEND button, you may not be able to make any changes and worst still; you may not be able to control how it flies.
If you are into manufacturing, you should even pay more than usual attention to detail and require the same from your employees.
Whether you are into manufacturing, service business or buying and selling, you need to make serious effort to pay attention to detail. These 12 tips will help you improve how you pay attention to detail.
So many have been said about the importance of teamwork in the workplace already. Needless to say, this skill is very vital for all entrepreneurs to possess.
As a smart entrepreneur, you should learn to work together with other employees as a team.
One of the reasons why some entrepreneurs burn out easily is because they can’t work as a team. Some despite having a co-founder with whom they can share some of the responsibilities prefer to work as ‘solopreneurs’.
Some others cannot simply tolerate others whose personality traits differ from theirs. Still, others cannot function effectively with others; they prefer to do their own thing along.
If you fall within any of these categories, you should buckle your shoes and start learning how to become a team player.
In this ‘click’, ‘follow’, ‘like’ age, we all need to start looking for ways to collaborate with one another. It’s a case of an apple tree and a ladder.
If XYZ has an apple tree but not a ladder and ABC has a ladder but not an apple tree, what should they both do?
The logical and wise thing is for them to collaborate.
So, if you are an entrepreneur, what do you have: An apple tree or a ladder?
If you have an apple tree, instead of allowing your apples to rut on the tree for lack of a ladder, why don’t you approach the guy with the ladder and collaborate? More so, you have something to offer – the apple tree which he lacks.
Pretty much, these are some of the most important 21st-century skill sets entrepreneurs should develop.
There are much more skills you need as an entrepreneur to possess to achieve more success in your business but if you have these 13 skills we have suggested above, you should be good to go.
If you do not readily possess any of these skills, feel free to learn. As they say these days, Google is your friend! Take as much information as you can from Google and of course, keep learning on the job.
Thanks for readings and please feel free to share with entrepreneurs you know.