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    17 September 2010

    Entrepreneur SkillsScientists tell us that over millions of years, humans have developed specialized skills that have allowed us to survive and thrive as a species.  From learning to create and use tools, to language, and social skills, we’ve adapted and innovated however was necessary to be successful in the given environment of each age.

    Whether you accept evolution as fact or not, one thing is clear: In today’s world, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, there is certainly an “evolutionary” process that we must all undertake.  In other words, there are skills that we must each learn and hone in order to thrive in today’s business world, and we need to be able to adapt those skills to our surroundings, or be left behind with the “entrepreneurial Neanderthals.”   Below are 5 essential skills for today’s entrepreneur:

    Decision Making – No one can deny that the ability to make decisions is a core skill that every entrepreneur must possess if he or she wants to be successful.  From the very beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, you must make sound decisions, first of all, about which business to go into.  From there, decisions on how to proceed with marketing, funding, product production (in some cases), vendor selection, and a host of other judgments need to be made.  The key is to be decisive and learn from mistakes, rather than fearing mistakes to the point that you avoid decisions.

    People Skills – It’s often said that no matter what business you’re in, you’re in the people business. How true that is!  Even if you have a dog grooming business, it’s the people who bring their dogs to you who pay you and make the decision to use your service over your competition’s, so you’d better know how to deal well with people.  This is a skill that nearly every highly successful entrepreneur has, and those who don’t have recognized the need to hire a “face of the company,” often in the form of a CEO or COO, to represent them in the business world.  Whether dealing with customers, vendors, investors, the press, or employees, well developed people skills can mean the difference between success and failure.

    Planning – Being able to project into the future and build a plan to accomplish your objectives is a skill that can take any entrepreneur far.  Effective planning is what will guide your company and ultimately define what you’re all about.  The skilled business planner knows that planning is only an effective skill when combined with action, so they don’t get bogged down in planning, and they keep their plans focused but somewhat flexible.  With so many facets to effective planning, it could be called as much an art as it is a skill.

    Sales – Just as it is said that every business is a people business, it is also true that whatever business you’re in, you’re in sales.  You might not be a salesperson in the “What’s it gonna take for me to get you into this car today” sense, but if you are exchanging products or services for money, you’re selling.  And the more skilled you are at sales, the more successful your business will be.  It’s not just customers you need to sell to though.  Selling your business plan to investors, your job opportunity to potential employees, or your marketing to your target audience is all dependent upon your ability to sell your ideas.

    Communication – If ever the term “last but not least” was appropriate, this is it. The skill of communication plays a role in the execution of all of the other skills above.  If you don’t have this skill, none of the other skills will be fully developed, no matter how hard you try.  You can’t be a great salesperson without great communication skills; your planning skills won’t matter if you aren’t able to effectively communicate your plans; you can hardly claim to have strong people skills without being a good communicator; and it won’t matter what decisions you make if they aren’t communicated properly to those who are in a position to execute them.  So of all the skills listed here, start working on your communication skills first, if they aren’t 100%.  It will pay off in immeasurable ways.

    Of course there are other important skills to have as an entrepreneur.  What would you add to the list? Be sure to share with the community in the comments below!

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    42 Responses to 5 Essential Skills for Entrepreneurial Survival

    1. Steve September 17, 2010 at 5:41 am #

      One thing entrepreneurs need to realize is to maximize their success they need to be in the right state of mind. Positive thinking is key, however what is overlooked is what they put in their mouth.. You guessed it, food!! Some entrepreneurs think that fast food or bagels are power foods when it robs them of vital energy they need throughout the day.. Why limit your success. I’m talking from a biochemical level… Certain foods work very well for some people and not so well for others.. There is a very cheap way to find out about this, and it’s related to your genetics. It’s your blood type!

    2. Philip Yiga September 17, 2010 at 7:32 am #

      Ability to transform dreams into goals will make you a real successful entrepreneur. A dream is a perceptive view of what you want to become and a goal is time set to achieve that dream. So if you set time of achieving your dreams then they turn from being dreams to being goals. If your dream is to own a successful blog like this blog, you have to set time of making this blog successful, so work towards that goal and time.

    3. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur September 17, 2010 at 8:27 am #

      @Steve: You’re so right. We hardly ever see business books or blogs talking about diet and exercise, but staying in top physical condition can help tremendously in your state of mind and therefore your results in business. Thanks for sharing!

    4. Jake Adams September 17, 2010 at 9:27 am #

      I would say perhaps something along the lines of being “resilient”. As an entrepreneur you are going to hear the word “no” a lot more than you may think. You may even experience a failure a couple of times before you start the right company or find the right market. Learning how to be resilient is an important skill for any entrepreneur.

    5. car battery September 18, 2010 at 3:25 am #

      As the old cliche goes, ‘the customer is always right’. Keeping that in mind, we must keep reshaping our mold to what the customers want. Many entrepreneurial ventures have gone bad because of rigid and stubborn decisions that didn’t want to keep up with the latest trends and customer demands. Evolving yourself and your business in every way with what the customer wants is very important to your continued success.

    6. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur September 18, 2010 at 8:44 am #

      @Jake: Persistence is what makes success possible. Every great entrepreneurial story includes doubts and obstacles along the way that the entrepreneur had to overcome. Great comment!

      @car battery: Another great point. We’re in a business world where customers have a lot of choice and changing needs and wants. If you aren’t flexible enough or willing to keep up, you’ll be left behind.

    7. Luke Bong September 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      A lot of entrepreneurs love their business so much they end up working as an employee in their own business. So, I think another important skill is ‘letting go’. I think this should be done early through empowering the people whom we hire and delegating work appropriately. Sometimes, we feel that only we can get something done perfectly. Ends up we do the hardest work ourselves. Occasionally we should ask ourselves this question – how much is our time worth in dollars and cents?

    8. Computer Tips Tricks September 19, 2010 at 1:33 am #

      I agree very much with you, especially the importance of planning. Well built plans are the main key to success no matter it’s the beginning or in the middle of your business.

    9. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur September 19, 2010 at 8:44 am #

      @Luke: Agree with you completely. There is a difference between being an entrepreneur and simply creating a job for yourself. Great point!

    10. Morgan Barnhart September 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

      Being a people person, I believe, is one of the biggest keys to surviving as an entrepreneur. You’re building yourself up and therefore need to be able to connect with people on an intimate level. People these days want to connect with the person they’re selling to. They don’t want another sales pitch, they want a human being who understands. With this and all the skills above combined, make for an amazing entrepreneur.

    11. Custom Essay September 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

      Communication plays an important role towards business survival in good and bad times. Through better communication, we can increase our sales when market is rising and ask for little help when we are in trouble.

    12. Mark Combs September 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

      Luke & John, you guys are dead on correct. I see often that business owners don’t even understand the finances of running their business as a business. They need to set themselves a reasonable salary that they could replace themselves with. While they get that salary, that is the job portion of the deal. Any profit that falls to the bottom line is the business owner profit, and a multiple of which is their actual asset. Fascinating when people think that their actual earnings should be purchased during a sale ….

    13. Mark Combs September 20, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

      Hey Luke, I love your last comment about how much our time is worth. Not sure if you have used a VA before (Virtual Assistant). I just started to do this about a year ago . . . absolutely staggering what you can get done for about nothing, and help you get out of your own way. I have had VA’s work for between $.65 and $8.00 per hour (that isn’t a typo). The higher paid ones don’t necessarily mean they are better either …. if you have never done it, I would check it out. Great way to leverage any business.

    14. Tej Kohli September 21, 2010 at 2:13 am #

      I think planning is definitely more important that anything else. If you don’t have a clear blueprint in your head, there is no way you can embark on the success journey.

    15. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur September 21, 2010 at 11:00 am #

      @Mark: VA’s are great! You can take a lot of the tasks that aren’t producing revenue for your business and give them to a VA, which, in the end pays for itself. When you’re not bogged down with minutia, you’re more able to focus on revenue-generating activities. Thanks for you comments!

    16. Jeff September 21, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

      In my opinion, SALES really the key. I agree with all five points, but I have known successful sales people who lack one or more of the other points. Sales is always king. Planning gets you in a lot of meetings to talk about Plans A-Z. In addition, I’ve know plenty of people with people skills who couldn’t sell water to a thirsty person, but could tell you where they went to school and where there family is from, etc. Decision making is important, but only when it’s an important decision. Communication is key, but that’s a lot of sales. Sales is KING.

    17. Luke Bong September 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

      Mark, thanks for sharing about VA. I’ll certainly check it out.

    18. Usama September 22, 2010 at 3:33 am #

      The key to success is mindset. If entrepreneurs know their goal then they’ll give everything they’ve got. And that is the road to survival, to keep your head in the right direction.

    19. tires September 22, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

      So many great ideas already in the comment section! Not even sure how to follow up! I guess I would add just to have the right drive and enthusiasm to the business, and not to go into it just for the dollar, because that won’t get you far.

      Till then,


    20. sanket September 23, 2010 at 3:32 am #

      We must be cut from the same cloth. I think there’s a lot we as a species can learn from our evolutionary past. History tends to repeat it self, does it not?!

    21. bikram September 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

      I can not agree more with you on this “Effective planning is what will guide your company and ultimately define”

    22. buy p90x September 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Matthew. I agree with your points to surviving, especially planning and making sales. If you don’t have a plan how can you get where you want to be? And I think sales are the most important thing as they will motivate you to keep working hard and continuing to improve.

    23. Sell Textbooks October 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

      “the customer is always right”. Keeping that in mind, we must keep reshaping our mold to what the customers want. Many entrepreneurial ventures have gone bad because of rigid and stubborn decisions that didn’t want to keep up with the latest trends and customer demands.

    24. Pet Camera October 12, 2010 at 7:25 am #

      Interesting remarks about how vital the sales aspect is. You may be the most technically knowledgeable skilled person, but if you can’t persuade (versus sell) people of the merits of your services or business, you won’t succeed. So, I agree with the comments from Jeff and Morgan about how necessary it is to be able to connect with your potential audience and be persuasive in a soft sell manner.

    25. Catalin October 14, 2010 at 6:09 am #

      Nicely mentioned how all the skills cannot live without each other, as each and every one as essential. Regarding the communication skill, I’ll add how your behavior is highly important, not only among the staff which is critical to have a good team-work spirit to influence those around you, but also in meetings with either clients or partners.

    26. Computer Tips Tricks October 20, 2010 at 3:03 am #

      The thing that pushes me the most is my “desire”.

    27. Catalin October 20, 2010 at 10:09 am #

      A bit evasive put there, but yes, as long as your motivation is pure and has high ranks to run up to, strategically approaching your ideas should make things work smooth, though make sure you also apply the 5 essential skills written above :P

    28. Shagun Bagga January 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

      Enjoyed reading all the five essential skills listed in the article and also all the others written in the comment section.

      I feel to know where you would want your business to be, to set a goal to achieve that and then work towards it by giving your best shot can just get you all the rewards. Don’t be scared of the obstacles that come in your way. Just keep going and don’t give up!!

    29. Reji Mohan August 19, 2011 at 6:11 am #

      An entrepreneur should be both creative and persistent.
      He needs to be CREATIVE when it comes to identifying a particular need and finding a soluion to it and PERSISTENT when it comes to getting his idea to be the solution to that need.
      Ofcourse being abl to dream big should be part of that package too.

    30. swati chaturvedi January 23, 2012 at 5:51 am #

      truly said an enterpreneur must possess the above stated qualities and he/she should also be a excellent leader too!

    31. Sadikano June 10, 2012 at 12:17 am #

      Very informative article!

    32. segun Dignity July 18, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      in this present business world, only companies delivering Quality service will survive. Quality service brings customer satisfaction, customer satisfaction brings customer loyalty,loyal customers bring referrals,, then profit maximisation. I recommend Quality Service.

    33. Y-14 ventures July 31, 2012 at 7:36 am #

      to me taking proper consideration on where your bussiness operate gives you the mindset to utilise those five essncials especialy if you live in nigeria.

    34. Samiru September 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      Very handy.I wanna it more.

    35. Martin October 10, 2012 at 6:15 am #

      awesome stuff

    36. Pete October 31, 2012 at 7:26 am #

      Thanks bro you helped me ace this project;D

    37. Idris November 9, 2012 at 4:31 am #

      Planning is the ways of controlling an organisation in order the surbodinent will be control by the delegetion.

    38. Luke December 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      You really make it appear so easy with your presentation however I to find this matter to be actually one thing which I feel I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely wide for me. I am having a look ahead to your subsequent submit, I’ll try to get the cling of it!

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