When you are unemployed and begin searching jobs listed in Job banks, like LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster and so on, you seek out job descriptions that match your skills and experience. But when you start your own business, the job description might look like a book full of blank pages. The skills, knowledge and abilities needed will be many. They will be hard to define in the beginning. In fact, the requirements will reveal themselves every day. If you want to get a sense of what you’ll need, take time to talk to entrepreneurs who’ve failed and who have succeeded. You’ll want to know every lesson you can. Here are some lessons I’ve picked up along my own journey.
Before we look at skills, you need to understand a few other required characteristics of startup entrepreneurs.
- You need to be self-motivated. There’s no one around to push you to do things you need to do or tell you what you need to do.
- You need to very passionate about the business. Things will be difficult in the beginning but you need to keep pushing for success.
- You’ve got to be able to handle stress (and lots of it). It could take 2 years for your company to get off the ground. I’ve started companies with a family. When times are tough and no money is coming in, everyone will pressure you to fix it. (I’ve got a great post for this coming soon).
- You need to have a clear vision of your business, that is, a good business plan. My blog tells you how to do that (The Blitz Blog – The Source of Inspiration for High Achievers ).
- You need to know how to take a small success and create more success. This is the process for building your business.
- You need to be a quick learner. This includes learning from others because you won’t know everything you need to know.
- You must be customer friendly. People will buy the service or product because of you. If they like you, they’ll buy.
- You need to be the expert. Whatever you sell, you need to be the expert on it. You want people to seek you out.
- You need to be organized. Startups need planning and focus. You should have enough information to operate on autopilot (but drive it yourself).
- You need to be decisive. Startups need money fast. You can’t afford to overanalyze situations. Make decisions and move on.
The typical skills needed for the startup entrepreneur are:
- Legal sense – you’ll have to create the business and operate within legal guidelines for your location and the industry.
- Accounting – how will you track your expenses and revenue? You will need a CPA but it helps to understand what they do because it could be you doing the accounting in the initial phase.
- Business development – You’ll have to decide what customers to market to and how they do business.
- Finance – How will you fund the initial phase of your business? You’ll have to establish the original budget and put the money in place.
- Marketing – You’ll need to create the social media and marketing materials for the business.
- Customer Relationship Management – You’ll need to be a salesman. People won’t buy products or services. They buy into YOU.
- Conflict resolution – Hopefully, you don’t make too many mistakes in the beginning but you need to fix them quickly.
- Collaboration – You might need to partner with other companies to sell your products or services. What kinds of arrangements can you have? You’ll have to figure that out too.
- Contracts – You’ll need to develop contracts, statements of work, proposals and other documents to support winning business for your company. Guess who gets to do that?
- Hiring – Once you bring people on board, there are a lot of government regulations that are required to hire people. You’ve got to know those too!
- Budgeting – You’ve got to be able to assess your costs to ensure you make a profit. Estimating labor and materials can be difficult, especially when your service is long term or customized.
- Writing – You’ll need to be able to create processes and policies that your company will use, such as privacy, nondiscrimination, quality, reporting, business plans, and so on. You’ll need documentation for your customer, the government and your company.
- Presentation skills – You need to be articulate as you’ll have to hold meetings and provide direction for your people. It must be clear and actionable. Otherwise, you waste time and money.
- Innovation – You have to keep your products growing and developing with the needs of your customer. Everyone usually talks about the APPLE model. It’s not a bad one to follow, if you can find out what they did in the beginning.
- Willing to learn – I can’t tell you how much I had to learn to get my business off the ground. Opportunities to learn are everywhere you turn.
- Adaptability – Very little will work the way you think it will. You’ve got to learn to adapt.
- Creativity – There will be many times where you will need something that doesn’t exist. You’ll have to create it.
- Negotiation – Business is all about the deal and you must learn to master it to grow your business.
- Emotional Intelligence – You must be emotionally stable and able to handle the emotional swings of success and failure. They are only bumps in the road to success and you have to hit some to get there.
- Focus – Businesses are built by defining a plan and implementing it. Things change but you can’t let that happen so often that nothing gets done.
These are just a few of pieces to the puzzle of success. Entrepreneurship is one of the greatest learning experiences you’ll ever have and it will also be one of the most challenging. It isn’t for everyone. When you’re in the middle of your startup, you’ll easily identify those who like the idea of entrepreneurship and those that don’t. It’s a completely different mindset. So, get out there and fill in the pages of your book with all the things it took for you to build your dream.