8 entrepreneurial skills every businessperson should develop

This month’s blog is courtesy of Kevin Crone, a colleague of mine from Toronto. Kevin specializes in getting business owners and leaders to think strategically about their future.

Without further ado, here’s Kevin:

Whether you’re a business owner, a future business owner, or an employee, you need to constantly develop your entrepreneurial skills in order to succeed. I mean consistently succeed. For some reason, we tend to stop developing many of the skills that got us where we are. Our motives change, we get satisfied, or we just get lazy. These skills apply to anyone, in both large and small companies, but successful entrepreneurs tend to exhibit more of these all the time.

Following are eight of the most important skills entrepreneurs need to develop if they want to remain successful.

  1. The ability to identify and assess opportunity. Successful entrepreneurs never stop assessing what’s going on in the marketplace, and as a result, they’re able to spot opportunities. Simply following the lead of big companies isn’t the answer. Big companies already own part of the market. They know what you don’t. It’s usually dumb to chase them. Instead, ask yourself what’s missing, what’s working somewhere else, or what’s wrong with your industry. What are customers not getting? What do customers want or need? This may sound too simple, but few businesspeople spend enough time answering these questions, and large companies have too much in place to allow significant change.
  2. The ability to pivot and make changes in one’s business model. Why do we so often act as if nothing has changed? Identifying what drives one’s business and what practices get rewarded will help you discover what needs to be changed in your current business model. Financial statements are just an accountant’s scoreboard, not a strategy to find and keep customers. Successful entrepreneurs organize their operations for more than just efficiency. They organize in order to constantly improve their businesses and offer products and services that match opportunities in the marketplace.
  3. The ability to explore research opportunities. Entrepreneurs invest 2% of their time and money into finding out what’s possible. Research is simply about testing new ideas and trying to make them commercially viable. Joining alliances and networks can work if you’re too busy running things. Listen to those whom no one will listen to. Ask questions about their research. Support researchers and make proposals to them. Stay connected. An “aha” moment will come, and away you go!
  4. The ability to use creative problem-solving to spur constant improvement. Creating something from nothing and fixing problems require different skill sets. It helps to develop an attitude of constructive discontent and curiosity as you go. Always ask why.
  5. The ability to leverage resources. Take advantage of the people and time you have and don’t complain about what you don’t have. I once studied the law of minimalism. It’s about using what you have to get started or to keep momentum going.
  6. The ability to manage risk. It’s about envisioning a worst-case scenario and thinking through how to minimize the consequences as you move forward. Always make sure to have a plan B and C. Listen to the accountants for the Bs and Cs, and listen to successful entrepreneurs and customers for “A” plans.
  7. Perseverance. Nothing is more important. It’s the juice of the entrepreneur. Failure and setbacks just chart the course for them.
  8. Leadership, confidence, and an ability to influence people and build a team. Too many entrepreneurs can’t sustain businesses because they think the business plan, the ability to manage money, and hard work are all there is to it. Typically, people are not engaged, connected, and competent. No entrepreneur can do it alone.

Which of these are strengths of yours that you can leverage? Which ones do you need to get better at? What are you going to do?

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