6 Skills Entrepreneurs Need for Success

  1. Become a researcher. This is critical as you are working on your business plan, but it will come in handy for the duration of your business life. For example, always talk to more than one vendor. Whether you are hiring a lawyer, changing suppliers, or investing in software – for any purchase or decision large or small – do your research! Never rely solely on the advice of a friend or family member, or the writer of the latest Inc. article. Gather your options, review them against each other, then make your choice. Of course, don’t spend so much time on this step or you will end up in decision paralysis. Generally, the middle option will be your best bet, so go for the one that gives you most of what you want at a reasonable price. 
  2. Learn basic accounting and develop an understanding of financial reports and how to use them. Financials are a knowledge area that many startup business owners think they can assign to someone else. This is false if you want to give your company a chance to succeed. I’m not saying that you need to enter data into QuickBooks, but I am saying that you need to work with your bookkeeper to develop a chart of accounts and you need to review your books at least once a month to make sure that you understand where all your money is coming from and how it’s being spent. You should be able to tell someone what your business is worth on any given day. And that comes from being able to read and interpret financial reports. You may hire a wonderful bookkeeper, but that person may take another job one day. You need to be able to certify that your books are complete and accurate and that you have receipts and other backup materials. Your new bookkeeper will have questions. You are the person to answer them.
  3. Take some marketing classes. At the least, you should know how to identify your competitors, define your target market, and know how to develop a marketing plan with costs and timeline. You will find lots of marketing support in the small business technical assistance arena, with programs such as the Women’s Business Center of Northern Virginia. You also need to learn how to evaluate your marketing efforts to see if you are spending your marketing dollars effectively.
  4. Use your surrounding experts to make decisions around Operations. This is an area in which a lot of money can be wasted if you don’t do your homework before deciding how to run your company. For example, do you really understand the difference between a part-time employee and an independent contractor? A mistake in this decision can cost you thousands if the IRS determines that you are not placing staff in the correct categories. What’s the best location for your business? Read that question again. It is not, “what is your dream location?” but what is the best location – and that includes affordability and lease terms. 
  5. What do you need to do to get funding? This is a broad question that includes loans, grants, and contracts. If you don’t know the funding process, and you don’t have all the paperwork organized that will be required, you will miss funding opportunities that can happen quickly. 
  6. Learn how to negotiate. A successful negotiation is not one in which you squeeze every penny out of the person you are trying to engage. The negotiation should end in as much of a win-win as possible. Even if the result is not completely even, each party should feel that they got at least some of what they need to not feel resentful about the deal. You want to build partnerships, which require listening to the other party and making concessions. Companies that you browbeat into submission are not likely to work with you for the long term. Just like taking care of your customers so that they will give you repeat business, you should cultivate your supplier relationships.

Check out upcoming training with the Women’s Business Center of Northern Virginia on becoming an entrepreneur. Request a free, confidential counseling session.

“Those who know, do. Those that
understand, teach.”

Community Business Partnership of Springfield, VA