13 Skills Needed to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

Illustration Entrepreneur Office Desk

A future entrepreneur is born every minute. Everyone embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, including yourself. It takes nurturing, cultivation and implementation to take full advantage of the skills needed to run a company or to sell your human capital.

Whether you are the head honcho of a small startup, or you work for a large corporation, everyone can be an entrepreneur, especially in an age when all professionals are a brand themselves. When you are starting a business, it takes more than just creating, marketing and selling a product or a service to a customer. You need plenty of skills to succeed in the digital marketplace, in your city and within the global economy. Do you think that you have them?

We have created a comprehensive list to help you identify the crucial skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur.

1. Money Management 

It is almost a prerequisite for entrepreneurs to be good with money, calculating dollars and cents can ensure your company remains viable during the boom and bust cycles. Indeed, every small business goes through growing pains, so burning through your capital on frivolous items and waste will hurt your enterprise. By knowing how much revenue is being generated, what your cash flow is and when you will be a profitable firm, you can maintain the dream of self-employment since you can keep the doors open to your business – online or offline.  

Here are some quick tips to give your money skills a boost: 

  • $5 Morning Coffee: Many financial experts say to skip the $5 morning coffee. This is sound advice for everyday people, but for entrepreneurs, it has more to do with self-discipline and refraining from spending frivolously on something you can make at the office.
  • Goals (Long and Short): This is likely already in your business model, but you should always list your long- and short-term financial goals for yourself and your company. A money management skill is understanding where you want to be a year from now or five years down the road.
  • Credit: What is your firm's credit situation like? Do you have a business credit card? Are banks lending to you? Do you depend on your credit situation to fund operations? An excellent money skill is knowing how and when to access credit markets.

2. Strategic Thinking 

The best way to survive and thrive in the entrepreneurial realm is to use strategy. Like an underwater, blindfolded and handcuffed game of 4D chess, it is critical to consider every possible move. You always need to be a few steps ahead of your rival to declare checkmate. This is achieved through strategic thinking, and your employees expect this from leadership. Would you describe yourself as a strategic thinker? 

If not, then here are some tips to work on this skill: 

  • Use a Role Model: Many entrepreneurs have role models, and you do not even need to know the person to have him or her as your role model. Looking up to somebody else in the business world and using them as your guide could help you come up with new ways of approaching commerce.
  • Dig Deeper: You should not stop at something that seems perplexing or obvious on the surface. You need to scratch to see what's underneath and unlock a whole new treasure trove of questions.
  • Suggestion Box: Welcome your staff members to drop off a few suggestions to improve the business. They can attach their names or be anonymous.
  • Thinking Session: Host a brainstorming session with your personnel and bounce ideas off each other. It may only take one sentence to ignite a new strategy.

3. Time Management 

Busy entrepreneurs are stressed for time. It makes sense: They are trying to grow a successful company, they are attempting to make payroll, they are negotiating deals, and they are trying to maintain a proper work-life balance. Often, it never seems enough. The only way for entrepreneurs to survive the 24-hour day is by adding to it an extra hour or two. 

Are you pressed for time? Here are a few recommendations: 

  • Prioritisation: What is the most important thing that needs to get done today? What is the second most important thing? And so on. By prioritising your tasks, you can focus on the most pressing and work your way down to the mundane.
  • Breaks: You may not think entrepreneurs need breaks, but they do, especially thinking breaks. These short intermissions can allow you to clear your mind and refocus on the task at hand.
  • To-Do List: What are you going to get done today? Having a to-do list could allow you to run your firm more effectively and help you ensure that all outstanding duties are being seen to.

4. Communication 

How can you lead a business, manage employees and engage with investors, clients and merchants if your communication skills are lacklustre? Even if you are a natural introvert and prefer to keep yourself, it is imperative for your business that you are an effective communicator.  

A lot of entrepreneurs – neophytes and veterans – live by their wits. So, by being skilled communicators, they can advance a lot of amazing agreements with terms and conditions that favour their side of the deal. Of course, not everyone shares this gift, so how can you succeed with your communication when you are in charge of business? 

  • Talk: The only way you can communicative effectively is to do it more often. And, no, texting and emails do not count. 
  • Listen: Oftentimes, the best communicator is somebody who listens to other people. By doing this, you can learn and problem-solve by considering others' thought processes.
  • Body Language: They say that 90% of communication is body language. You may not be a body language expert, but you can still get a sense of what is being conveyed through arm movements or postures. It is an inherent skill for many people. 

5. Digital Marketing 

As your business becomes more successful, you can start looking into hiring a digital marketing professional. Until then, a lot of the advertising, marketing and promotion will need to be done by you and perhaps one more expert. This would consist of social media, SEO, mobile marketing and a whole host of other elements to ensure that you are raising brand awareness. 

Once your company grows, then you can hire a professional marketing firm to boost your efforts. 

6. Technology 

To say that there are plenty of technological tools – software and hardware – at your disposal would be an understatement. It is incredible how much the entrepreneurial experience can be enhanced with this treasure trove of aids, from clouding computing to mobile applications to tax programs. Everything an entrepreneur could possibly need is available for purchase at an office supplies store or ready to download on Google. This was unheard of years ago when you would need manpower to grow your company. 

Of course, you must have the acumen to utilise this technology in the first place. If you are not as tech-savvy as your peers, then you are at a disadvantage. It is imperative to be competent enough, whereby you can take advantage of a project management system and maximise the power of a tablet. 

7. Associating

In 2009, the Harvard Business Review wrote an excellent piece, titled 'The Innovator's DNA'. It explored the five discovery skills that separated the creative and innovative entrepreneurs and executives with those who possessed very little track record of transformation. What were they? AQONE (associating, questioning, observing, networking, experimenting). These elements can be incorporated into your entrepreneurial leadership and overall business model. 

From this cluster of skills, the first is associating, which is the ability to connect unrelated ideas or problems from various fields, such as science, philosophy or art, with your firm's troubles.


8. Questioning

The knack to find the right question to spur innovation (a lot of successful business owners remember a specific question they asked when they came up with their idea for a new venture).

9. Observing

To be a good observer, you need to pay close attention to detail. This often means sitting on the side-lines and observing common problems that happen every day. Your observation could allow you to produce unique business solutions to address these issues.

10. Networking

Networking is an essential skill for any entrepreneur. As a good networker, you insist on allocating time and resources to coming up with ideas, testing out these concepts, and gauge the opinion of others through an extensive network of experts who possess unique perspectives.

11. Experimenting

The only way to determine if your hypothesis is correct is by experimenting, which is a crucial skill of yours. Experimentation is the central component in your organisation because your intellectual curiosity gets the best of you. 

12. Cognitive Flexibility 

To be a successful entrepreneur, you must also accept your mistakes. By refusing to acknowledge that you have erred, you are only setting yourself and your company up for failure. Entrepreneurship requires flexibility; to remain competitive in the global marketplace, you must be able to adapt to change. This is a skill that few people maintain, so perhaps it's time to institute flexibility into your daily strategic thinking. 

13. Organisation 

When the subject of organisation is discussed in the business world, it's immediately related to putting papers away neatly or ensuring that you have jotted down an appointment in your black book. While these are essential things to remember, organisational skills in the entrepreneurial realm relate to more than just a well-kept desk. 

Here are a few skills to home in on: 

  • Organise a meeting that sticks to the fundamental principles of your firm and nurture ideation. 
  • Use organisation as a stepping stone to produce a more productive workplace
  • Establish smart work policies that enable employees to work from home successfully.
  • Assess and analyse your time; figure out what needs to be done first. 

It is great to know where everything is, but organisation is so much more than files and post-it notes. 

What is required of entrepreneurs in today's ultra-competitive global marketplace? There is a long list of tips that all business owners need to consider, whether they are the head of a small startup or the leader of a multi-national corporation. 

It is also vital for the entrepreneurial mindset to move beyond just a single person who is the sole proprietor of a tech outfit or a retail store. Everyone possesses the entrepreneurship spirit – it just needs to be nurtured and cultivated.

Which of these skills do you think is the most important for an entrepreneur? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!