Forbes has previously described entrepreneurs as people who “organise and manage any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk” – that is, people who see a gap in the market, or an open market, who choose to take a business risk in the hope of turning a profit and introducing something new to the market.
It is hard to classify exactly what actually makes someone an entrepreneur, or why there are some entrepreneurs who are repeatedly successful where others fail – there is some measure of luck and timing in many business situations, after all. But there are a few fundamental skills and personality quirks found in many of the world’s entrepreneurs. If you’re striving to change the face of an industry with your newfound business, here are a few key skills to consider before ‘taking the plunge’ into entrepreneurship.
One of the real values of an entrepreneur is the ability to see potential and opportunity where others can’t. Theodore Hesburgh, President Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, once said, “the very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”
As an entrepreneur, you need to not only understand where you’re heading and what you want to do with your business, but you also need to be able to communicate that vision to your stakeholders and potential customers. Know your vision and communicate it well to achieve your ideal outcome.
This one is probably a given. The road to a successful, profitable entrepreneurial business is not typically a smooth one. There will be setbacks and issues – such is the nature of business. Every entrepreneur should be tenacious and willing to take risks and make tough decisions for the sake of the success of their vision – this may mean working long hours, and investing personal time and money. It will be worth it in the end.
An idea is the first step to a successful entrepreneurial business, of course. But knowledge is a crucial factor in the success of entrepreneurial enterprises. As a new small business owner and operator, you’ll need to learn a variety of key business skills such as sales, finance and operations. You’ll need to analyse and understand the market you’re looking to enter with your product. And you’ll also need to figure out how to make your particular type of business successful – every industry is a little different. Of course, some of this can be figured out during the process of commencing the business – but if you can learn something beforehand, do so. It will save you time and extra stress down the line.
A business is nothing if it has no customers, which is why your sales and marketing ability is so crucial. To build revenue, to build your brand, to build a profit – it all requires support from your customers. Take the time to establish relationships with people who will potentially support your business, brush up on your written and oral communication skills and create some interest in your product. It’ll help you to determine where exactly to find your market when you do begin your business.
Sharpen your critical thinking ability before starting a business – as with any business, you will likely encounter problems at an early stage in the life of your enterprise. Make sure you are as prepared as possible for troublesome situations – create contingency plans, do a SWOT analysis of your business plan… use all of the tools at your disposal to protect yourself and your new venture.
People often underestimate the necessity of strong organisational skills, especially in the case of an entrepreneur. Ensure that you have the ability to plan your days and manage your time wisely, before you begin any new business. Key skills for time management in a burgeoning business include the ability to multi-task – you’ll need to manage correspondence, marketing, delivering your goods and services to your customers, and managing your finances. All of this will likely need to be done by you alone – so ensure that you have a solid schedule in place, or as solid as possible, before you begin your business. You will learn to prioritise as you go.
What is the final fundamental trait for budding entrepreneurs? Be optimistic. In the face of worries and fears, in the face of calculating finances and making plans, ensure that you stay optimistic. Think of your vision, think about the market you wish to change, or the way you’re looking to turn your chosen industry upside down. Entrepreneurship is not designed to be an easy path – hard work is the definition of success. But stay optimistic in the face of each and every challenge, and you will likely find more reason to succeed.
These are what I consider to be the key skills for any budding businessperson – what would you add to this list? If you own and operate a business, would you agree with these suggestions? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Mindtools, Inc., Power Home Business, Forbes and BrainyQuote.
*The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is Australia’s largest provider of MBAs. Source Ready, B. (2023) Domestic Enrolments Surged During COVID After International Students Locked Out, MBA News. Available at: MBA News.