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Being a new entrepreneur practically forces you to become a jack-of-all-trades. As you’re writing your business plan and nurturing your business through the early stages of its development, you’ll need to strategize and take action in a number of different areas, from finance to marketing.
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It’s no wonder serial entrepreneurs tend to have higher success rates than others. They’ve had more time and experience to develop the requisite entrepreneurial skills to lead them to success. But what if you’re starting a business for the first time?
As a new entrepreneur, it’s a good idea to take an honest assessment of your current skills, experience, and abilities. Then choose areas of weakness to hone before moving forward.
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The Most Important Skills for New Entrepreneurs
Which skills are most important for new entrepreneurs? These are some of the most vital:
Much of your business success depends on your ability to manage money efficiently. You need to understand the ramifications of your financial decisions and keep a close eye on your revenue and expenses. So consider taking some accounting courses, or even signing up for the CPA exam. You’ll walk away with a much better understanding of business finances.
2. Conflict Resolution
If you’re going to be managing a team of employees, or even if you’re working closely with a partner or two, you’re going to inevitably run into conflicts. You’ll face disagreements and impasses, and will need some way to get around them. But basic conflict resolution skills can help you quickly move past these obstacles and return your focus to the priorities that matter.
3. Creative Problem Solving
In some ways, all entrepreneurs are creative problem solvers. In fact, most business ideas emerge as a solution to a common problem. However, no matter how good your business idea is, you’ll run into many problems to solve throughout the course of your business’s development. Figuring out novel ways to solve those problems is essential if you want to thrive.
4. Time Management
New entrepreneurs are often taken aback by the sheer amount of work that needs to be done. With a fixed number of hours in the week and an ever-increasing list of tasks to handle, you’ll need time management skills if you’re going to survive. Otherwise, important things will get lost in the shuffle.
On a related note, you’ll need to come up with a good prioritization system. It’s impossible to completely clear your task list every day. This means at least some tasks will get left behind. So which tasks are most important to knock out first? Which ones can afford to wait until you’re less busy? How can you consistently evaluate this?
6. Active Listening
Active listening can help you in a number of situations. For example, it’s indispensable in negotiations, where you’ll need to understand the motivations and opinions of your partner. It’s also great for resolving conflicts. And it can help you close sales by giving prospects exactly what they need.
7. Risk Calculation
You’ve likely heard that good entrepreneurs are risk takers, but this isn’t exactly true. Good entrepreneurs know how to calculate risks, and take them when they make sense. It’s hard to quantify the possible benefits and drawbacks of a given decision, and even harder to think through every possible consequence of it. Great entrepreneurs can do this consistently.
Some entrepreneurs like to take on everything themselves, doing as much work as possible to improve and grow the business. However, it’s often better to delegate lower-level and less-important tasks to other people who can handle them more efficiently. So learn to delegate effectively by sending the right tasks to the right people and communicating your needs proactively and in full.
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9. Stress Management
Entrepreneurship is incredibly stressful, and you shouldn’t underestimate this fact. You’ll be making many important decisions, often with your own financial future on the line. Plus, you’ll be working long hours. If you’re going to succeed without burning out, you’ll need some stress management skills. Understand to recognize stress in its earliest forms, and learn how to reduce your stress with exercises and better habits.
No matter how detailed your business plan is or how many variables you’ve thought through, there’s a good chance something is going to blindside you. The business won’t develop quite the way you think, and you’ll have to deal with unexpected challenges. Accordingly, one of the best skills you can develop is adaptability. In other words, how do you respond to these sudden changes?
Engage in Continuous Learning as a New Entrepreneur
The best entrepreneurs understand that you’re never going to reach a position where you know everything. Nor will there come a time when your skills will be “complete.” Instead, you need to prepare for a lifetime of ongoing learning. Therefore, keep improving your skills and knowledge, and challenge yourself to acknowledge and reduce your own weaknesses.