Becoming an entrepreneur is an attractive career path for many, as it offers an irresistible opportunity to become the master of your own destiny, enjoy the freedom that comes from being your own boss and the potential financial rewards from taking risks and burning the midnight oil.
However, what is less clear is whether you can prepare yourself for life as an entrepreneur. It might be a role that requires a wide breadth of personal qualities and professional skills, but it is rarely clear what those are, and if you can develop specific attributes that will set you on a path to success.
The simple truth is that there is no set route to entrepreneurship, and no two business owners are the same. Indeed, the most successful figures in business appear to buck the trend, rather than fall into a neat box of replicable skills.
Having said this, there are certainly both personal and professional qualities that you should aim to improve if you want to give yourself the best chance of success as an entrepreneur.
For example, you will inevitably have to sit at a negotiating table at certain points during your career, so developing your deal-making ability will do you no harm.
Similarly, learning the fundamentals of marketing and sales will help you present yourself in the best light possible, and position your start-ups correctly within the marketplace.
You may also want to consider the skills you won’t be as heavily reliant on – such as admin tasks that can be completed by other people or automated software.
These are the skills you should learn if you want to become an entrepreneur:
Software can complete many basic tasks for you
One of the starkest realities of becoming an entrepreneur is the fact that you will be on your own at first.
In fact, it is this independence and self-accountability that will allow you to earn the big bucks if your enterprises become successful.
At first, though, you may not be so richly rewarded for your lone wolf approach to business. You will likely have to complete most daily business tasks yourself as you broach the early stages of a start-up.
This may require you to handle accounts and finances, sales or production simultaneously, which is a steep challenge.
However, all is not lost because it is now possible to automate at least a portion of these processes.
For example, you could incorporate cloud accounting which makes account management far easier, safer and more efficient. This will save you from having to manage the entire process yourself and minimizes the chance of any major problems.
Learn the art of effective negotiation
Negotiating is one of the most formidable skills an entrepreneur can possess in their armory. You will have to forge deals with investors, contractors, business partners, suppliers and even your own employees on a constant basis.
These deals will sometimes be high-stakes negotiations that can take weeks to complete, or they can be simple disputes during a meeting with your team. Either way, having the ability to persuade others to see your point of view, strike a hard bargain and consistently walk away from meetings with a good deal will set you up for a prosperous career.
While no one is perfect in a negotiating situation, you can certainly learn principles which will help you become more effective in these scenarios.
For example, it is vital that you learn the power of ‘no’, which is when you try and find reasons why you should not come to an agreement with the other person, rather than convincing them to say yes. It sounds counterintuitive, but in reality, it takes the pressure out of the situation and allows the other person the space to come to their own conclusion.
If you put your argument across well, they are more likely to be persuaded by your point of view.
Another key attribute to acquire is a lack of neediness. Many people enter a negotiation desperate for it to go well. This leaves you inherently weak and open to the other person offering you a poor deal.
Instead, always be prepared to walk away, even if it will have negative results.
Marketing and salesmanship are one of the most important skills you can learn
The ability to market and sell yourself well is the key to being successful as an entrepreneur. You will constantly be persuading people to put their faith in you – from new employees to investors, business partners to customers.
No one wants to invest in someone who is dull, uninspiring or doesn’t know how to demonstrate their best characteristics, so take the time to learn the basics of persuasion and salesmanship.
Not only will this make you a more influential person on a personal level, but it will allow you to market your brand far more powerfully.
There is a reason why iconic business leaders like Richard Branson or Elon Musk are so inextricably tied to their brands. They are master marketers who know the value of personality within a commercial setting.
Arguably the most important quality you can possibly learn as an entrepreneur is the ability to interact with other people.
It sounds glaringly obvious, but the world is full of incredibly talented individuals who struggle to communicate or inspire others, which leads to them being forgotten or ignored.
Charisma is a fiercely underrated quality which can lead otherwise average people into positions of great authority, simply because they have the ability to spark excitement and curiosity in others.
This does not mean that you need to become an actor overnight, but if you find yourself struggling with personal interactions then practice opening conversations with strangers, dip your toes in the water with public speaking, or take a specialist course that teaches you to improve your tonality, body language and personal presentation.
It may sound extreme, but developing your social magnetism is one of the best advantages you can give yourself in entrepreneurship.