The Eight Essential Entrepreneurial Skills
To cope with the many daily challenges, you need a positive attitude. Although technical skills are necessary, a true entrepreneur develops the Eight Essential Entrepreneurial Skills and uses them daily. You have to be SCCOPPED—an all-round people person with the following skills and qualities. When you have read this section, ask yourself: Am I SCCOPPED?
1. Self-motivation and discipline
If business looks a little grim and there are no foreseeable solutions, it’s difficult to face the day—let alone feel motivated. If there are orders to fill and work to complete, motivation is usually not a problem. So how do you become motivated? Working positively and seeing results is motivating. Developing confidence, organizational skills, and a positive attitude will help. In other words, self-discipline will evolve from developing the other entrepreneurial skills.
By becoming an expert in your field, maintaining a positive attitude, and keeping organized, you gain confidence just knowing how you are going to tackle each day. If you are passionate about your business, you automatically radiate confidence.
Excellent technical skills will feed your confidence. In business, knowledge and confidence are what convince customers to buy from you. To gain and maintain confidence, you have to work hard at your business. For most, it evolves over time and with experience. If you do it right, confidence is one of the lasting rewards.
3. Communication skills
Communication is the ability to convey your message clearly, concisely, competently and confidently. In business as in life, communication skills are a must. You must sell yourself before you can ever sell your business. You will need to compose a variety of professional correspondence, so effective writing skills are essential. In many instances, they are your only foot in the door. These skills can all be practiced and learned.
What is organization? It is the ability to plan and execute a series of tasks in an orderly fashion, to find any piece of paper within twenty seconds, or to arrange a cupboard so that you aren’t buried in junk upon opening the door. It’s the ability to arrive at appointments, to complete work on time despite emergencies, and to allocate your priorities, working through them in sequential order. It is the ability to complete all of the above—and more—without losing your cool.
How can an unorganized person learn to be organized? Through discipline and practice. First, you must want to be organized.
By being more disciplined and motivated, your desire to be more organized will increase. The busier you get, the more organized you need to be.
5. Passion and a positive attitude
Passion! Defined in the dictionary as appetite, desire, ardor, and hunger, these words aptly describe the very essence of what drives an exceptional entrepreneur. You need to have a love affair with your business. Passion inspires your creativity and motivates you to reach for your goals. It builds confidence and gives you the determination to persevere. Passion helps to close a sale. It creates a hunger to improve your skills. Enthusiasm will allow you to play the game well, but passion will score you the goals.
Without passion for your business, what will positively motivate you? Money, desperation or the competition will only motivate you for the short term. There are no books written about “How to get passionate about your business.” If you ain’t got it, you can’t learn it—you are probably in the wrong business.
I’m sure you have asked friends: “How are you today?” only to be regaled with stories of deaths, debts, disaster, divorce, and despair. If you wanted macabre entertainment, you could watch a soap opera. Do you feel inclined to approach or associate with depressing people? Of course not. We can all be depressed without help from our friends. In business, the principle is no different.
No one can teach you how to have a positive attitude. As you develop confidence in your abilities, your positive attitude will develop. If you are the eternal pessimist, you shouldn’t be in business. To feel more positive, work on the other skills and read some books on positive thinking.
6. Persistence and perseverance
Highly successful people don’t use the words “I can’t” or “I quit.” They have learned that you learn by your mistakes, and that setbacks are only challenges. It is not a crime to fail, but it is a crime not to learn from failure.
Persistence and perseverance take over where passion leaves off, keeping you going through the long and sometimes tedious process of reaching your goals. Some call it stubbornness or “stick-to-it-ness.” Whatever term you use, perseverance ensures the task is completed properly and that your goals are attained.
Quite frankly, if you are not an expert in your chosen field, you should not be in business, as you are sometimes responsible for people’s lives and safety. Learn all there is to know about your industry or profession so you are an expert before you hang out your shingle. When you are sure of your advice to others, your confidence builds. The more you know, the more your customers will have confidence in you and refer you to others.
8. Dreams and goals
Operating a business without having dreams and goals is rather like sailing without a rudder and compass. Without goals, you will flounder, so never lose sight of them. Because long-term goals take time to achieve, reward yourself by setting short-term goals, or baby steps. These should be achievable weekly and monthly goals. After a few months, you will be surprised at just how far those baby steps have taken you.
Once you have set goals, your passion, confidence, and positive attitude will drive you to achieve them. When you are an organized, motivated, and disciplined expert with excellent communication skills, your persistence and perseverance will ensure your success.
Imagine your business as a golden box of opportunities. What you do with it is up to you. By looking at change in a positive way, you will have a golden opportunity as bright as that box. Because the world is changing all the time, you can’t go through life operating on the same old paradigms. They just don’t work. To survive and thrive, be a creative thinker.
Constantly think outside the box, bringing new and creative ideas into your golden box of opportunity. Whether you are large or small, you have to always be looking ahead. Ask yourself: If you don’t change, what will happen? If you do change, what will happen? In most cases, if you do change, the results will be positive and will help you to succeed.
Use the Seven Tools of Change
Because change is not easy, here are seven golden tools to help you better adapt to change. Put them into your golden box of opportunity and use them every day.
Tool 1: Make planned changes
Yes, you may have to change certain aspects of your business, but first ensure that you plan well ahead and carefully so that you understand the ramifications of that change. Analyze whether each change will have a long-term, positive effect.
Tool 2: Notice small changes
You may not notice your lawn growing every day as it’s a small change, but in a week, there’s quite a difference. Small yet significant changes can seriously affect the health of your business. Notice the changes happening in your profession, industry and business. Recently, I noticed that my anti-virus program wasn’t running. A small yet significant change; I’m glad I noticed it.
Tool 3: Make small changes
Now it’s one thing for me to tell you to change the way you do business, but most people find change quite difficult. The good news is, you don’t need to make drastic changes. Start by making small positive changes—baby steps. See the Real Life story “Put on a Smiley Face” for a perfect example.
Tool 4:Take positive and creative action
Don’t react to change, as this usually results in a negative outcome. Try positively acting with change. When a problem arises, be creative in your thinking and solutions. Turn adversity into opportunity. This is what sets a true entrepreneur apart from the rest.
Tool 5: Practice change
Change takes time and practice. As creatures of habit, we like things just the way they are. But in this ever-changing world, we must find ways to become comfortable with change. If you start with the little things, the bigger challenges don’t appear as insurmountable when they happen. Start practicing by making some simple changes in your life. Sit in a different chair in the living room, praise your child when you are tempted to chastise her, or call a customer instead of emailing.
Tool 6: Research industry trends
The way business is transacted within your industry is always changing. Are you making time to keep abreast of those changes? Attend industry conferences and seminars, subscribe to e-newsletters and industry magazines, and read the business section of the newspaper, not just the sports or your horoscope.
Tool 7: Make time for change
Yes, I know, you are “too busy,” but too busy doing what? Schedule some focused planning time. Make a list and plan what is important to you and your business and where you feel you need to make some changes. Start with a small positive change and monitor the results. They will spur you on to making bolder changes.