Becoming an entrepreneur is a dream for plenty of talented, driven people. For them, there’s nothing quite like developing a unique new product or service and launching a new venture to turn a great idea into a reality. Still, even for the most capable among us, founding a new business is an extraordinarily complex and challenging undertaking. That reality goes a long way toward explaining why more than half of startups in the UK won’t make it past their fifth year of operation.
To beat the odds and build a business that will grow and thrive over the long term, it’s vital that entrepreneurs prepare themselves with the right skills to ensure their startup’s survival. The required skills cover a wide variety of disciplines, and they’ll all come in to use from the earliest planning stages all the way through managing the new company’s day-to-day operations. To help them get started, here are the skills every entrepreneur should have pre-launch, and why they’re so important to the survival of a new business.
Financial Planning and Management
Of all the things that an entrepreneur must master before starting a business, there is nothing more important than developing the skills required to handle the new company’s finances. When you consider that 82% of businesses fail due to poor financial management, the reason these skills are so crucial should be obvious. Put simply, business finances aren’t as simple as making sales and spending the money when it comes in. Instead, businesses must rely on revenue projections to plan spending, and getting them right is far from simple. At the very least, an entrepreneur should have an understanding of how to create and maintain a cash flow budget, and how to create accurate cash flow forecasts before the business ever begins trading.
Marketing and Sales
One thing every entrepreneur tends to learn early on in the life of their new business is the fact that no matter how valuable their product or service is to their target market, it won’t sell itself. That’s what makes having a good foundation of skills in sales and marketing so important for any new entrepreneur. In general, they’ll need to learn how to conduct the following essential tasks to develop a marketing plan for their new business:
- Market Research – The entrepreneur should be familiar with all parts of the market research process, including online market data analysis, direct customer outreach, and competition discovery and analysis.
- Customer Profiling – The entrepreneur should understand how to build customer profiles to aid in market segmentation and marketing message targeting.
- Planning Campaigns – Entrepreneurs must understand how to build and execute digital and print marketing campaigns and how to track and manage results.
The skills required in this discipline can vary from industry to industry, but a mastery of the basics will go a long way towards helping the entrepreneur do what’s necessary to begin the initial customer acquisition phase of their new venture, and help them once they begin working with outside marketing and sales specialists.
Human Resources and Management
Since building a successful new business requires the entrepreneur to build a workforce from the ground up, it’s essential for them to have the skills necessary to manage and lead employees. In truth, this is an area that isn’t a natural strong point for most entrepreneurs, who tend to be inclined toward a do-it-yourself attitude where they’re involved in all aspects of the business. For that reason, it’s advisable for any budding entrepreneur to invest in management courses that can help them to understand how to hire the right employees, build a management structure, and deal with things like employee benefits and training programs. That way, the business will benefit from a productive and engaged workforce, which is essential to fuel growth in the early stages of operations.
From the earliest stages of a business, the founder and principal will be the go-to source for everything from strategic vision to public relations. They must be ready to handle things like pitch presentations, public speaking engagements, and all manner of personal interactions. The one thing that all of these tasks have in common is that they require the entrepreneur to have solid written and verbal communications skills so they can successfully navigate all of the myriad tasks they’ll have to attend to. They’ll also need to master critical skills like understanding body language and other non-verbal cues so they can make the most out of any situation and put the company’s best foot forward at all times.
Working Without a Net
Starting a business is a fantastic adventure, where every day presents unique opportunities for personal and professional growth. When done well, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences one can have. Mastering the skills listed here won’t guarantee success, but they’ll make sure that the entrepreneur stands a good chance of getting their venture off the ground and that it won’t fall victim to operational issues that could lead to an untimely failure. By laying the groundwork in this way, success should ultimately come down to the things that drive most entrepreneurs – skill, creativity, and plain old hard work. At the end of the day, who could ask for anything more?