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Five Critical Business Skills

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/13/2011

Unfortunately, unless you have these five critical business skills, your days as an entrepreneur may be numbered. While there are some practical skills such as management and communication skills that are needed, there are "learned" skills that can help you find success.

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    Finding Success as an Entrepreneur

    Evaluation When we hear about a new business failing, it is easy to wonder what created the problem. The Small Business Administration states that there are some common reasons for business failure including lack of finances, poor location, not being prepared for growth and poor handling of credit among others. These reasons have more to do with a lack of knowledge about business and far less to do with specific skills that an entrepreneur may possess. Ironically, many of these issues could be avoided if new business owners did better research, worked with a mentor or spoke to others who were in the same line of business for advice.

    Most people can succeed in business if they are willing to apply themselves. While not everyone has business management experience, or extensive financial experience, the fact is that many "learned" skills that are needed for success as an entrepreneur can be learned and not necessarily in a classroom. Of course, it is important that those who are considering starting a business evaluate a number of things, too frequently, the myths surrounding business ownership are damaging to entrepreneurs. For example:

    Working for myself means less pressure - This is a myth that can easily be busted by talking to others who have started their own business. In many cases, entrepreneurs are under more pressure than their peers who work for someone else. While it is true that the entrepreneur may have more control over their own destiny, owning a business often means long hours, learning marketing and in some cases, managing employees or contractors.

    Working for myself means fewer hours - This may be one of the most damaging myths that surround business ownership! Chances are that as a business owners, you will devote far more hours to your business than you would to a traditional 40 hour per week job. This is a reality that many new business owners never take into consideration before they get started.

    There are plenty of myths surrounding entrepreneurship, these are simply a couple of examples. There are no specific educational roads that will help someone succeed in business, some successful entrepreneurs have extensive education (for example, Warren Buffett) while others dropped out of college (for example, Steve Jobs).

    Now we will explore some of the traits that can be learned that can help anyone thrive as an entrepeneur, this is a path that is open to everyone who is interested in owning their own business.

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    5 Learned Skills of Successful Entrepreneurs

    Checklist of skills Diligence - Diligence is defined in the dictionary as "persevering". By itself, this means that an entrepreneur never gives up. In many cases, we identify people as "diligent" meaning that they are willing to go the extra mile when needed to accomplish a task. Diligence when applied to an entrepreneur means that they are not willing to sacrifice their dreams of owning their own business simply because they run into hard times or run into road blocks. Entrepeneurs know what they want, know what they expect and they are determined to get there.

    Persistence - Simply put, "the quality or state of being persistent..." In some ways, this skill is similar to the trait of diligence. Entrepreneurs who know they are capable of success don't give up! Thomas Edison was right when he said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." For entrepreneurs, they are willing to sacrifice, willing to overcome failure and willing to continue to work towards their end goal. While it is necessary to be practical, those who give up too soon are likely to fail. The road to success as an entrepreneur is a bumpy one, those who are willing to deal with obstacles in a practical manner can find success.

    Acumen - Some people think that acumen is an inherent skills. However, one dictionary definition of acumen is "keenness and depth of perception, discernment, or discrimination especially in practical matters ". For the entrepreneur, this means that they have good common sense and they are willing to look at the bigger picture. While a business may start based on a single idea, entrepreneurs must have the insight to determine when they need to change direction. Many entrepreneurs will engage with professionals in their field to help them keep up to date with changes in their industry. This allows them to change course when necessary.

    Communication - The ability to share information with clients, employees and business partners cannot be stressed enough. Communication is crucial to success in businesses of all sizes. One dictionary definition of communication is "a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior...." which provides a roadmap for learning this crucial skill. The process of communicating starts early in the business cycle, the entrepreneur must be able to share their vision, share their goals and be able to successfully communicate these to others. In some cases, this is accomplished through a business plan, while in other cases, it may be sharing information with family members.

    Independence - Perhaps one of the most critical skill that will help an entrepreneur succeed is independence. Chances are that competitor are not going to be willing to "share" their secrets. In many cases, it is up to the entrepreneur to "sink or swim" on their own. This requires not only independence but also a willingness to remain strong in the face of adversity. One dictionary definition of independence is "not subject to control by others...". Entrepeneurs allow themselves to be self-directed, are capable of assessing risk and reward on their own and are willing to go it alone when necessary.

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    Words of Warning

    It is crucial to remember that many business ventures will fail. Entrepreneurs may have the best possible entrepreneurial skills and still face an uphill battle to success. However, those who have the skills that can help them find success will likely do better than those who are not properly prepared. Economic conditions, the business niche that is chosen and many other factors will play a role in the success of a business. Before getting started however, make sure that the basic skills are considered carefully. Entrepreneurs who have these skills have a better chance of finding success.

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