Five essential entrepreneurial skills you can learn

Worry that you weren’t born with the right attributes for business? Find out why no one is, and how you can learn the skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur.

It’s a common topic of debate: is the key to business success a robust educational background or an innate set of soft skills? Or, more simply: are entrepreneurs born or made?

While some people argue that business acumen is a trait you’re born with, others (like us) believe that there’s no reason why someone can’t be tutored and moulded into a successful business leader.

To try to shed some light on the debate, business insurer Hiscox looked at the backgrounds of the world’s top 20 male and female billionaires. And you may be surprised to learn that 30% of them didn’t complete a university degree.

Did you know, for example, that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both dropped out of university to pursue their business ventures? Considering their immense success, it would appear a lack of advanced formal education certainly didn’t hold them back.

So were they simply born with the right genes for success, or was their business savviness a quality learnt over time? And what lessons can you take from their stories?

Five essential entrepreneurial skills you can learn

To help you follow in their footsteps, here are five entrepreneurial skills that we believe are essential for success. And the good news is that, with effort and practice, you can learn all of them.

1) Confidence

Every successful business needs a founder with the conviction that they can succeed at its helm. Confidence is essential for making bold decisions about the direction of the business, and for overcoming tricky obstacles and taking calculated risks.

But what if you aren’t currently filled with confidence in your entrepreneurial abilities? All is not lost; adopting a positive outlook, seeking lessons from your past successes (and failures) and keeping your eye on the end goal can all help you gain confidence. As can the advice in these articles:

2) Relationship building

Positive professional relationships are the building blocks of a thriving business. From gaining the trust and respect of employees to building a rapport with clients, you need good people skills to be a successful business leader.

Empathy and emotional intelligence are central factors when forging these relationships. And a good leader will take the time to put themselves in other peoples’ shoes and strive to make them feel valued.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, describes communication as the “most important skill any leader can possess.” He’s known for his down-to-earth leadership style, putting people first and offering mentorship opportunities to every employee.

While emotional intelligence is usually something you develop as a child, it is possible to improve your interpersonal skills later in life. By focusing on becoming more self-aware and consciously changing the way you interact with people, you can forge better relationships.

You can read more advice on building (and using) your emotional intelligence here:

3) Leadership

It doesn’t take much insight to guess that a business needs one essential thing to succeed: a strong, wise leader. Someone who is able to communicate their vision and inspire and lead others towards their goal.

And if you’re not 100% sure you have that mastered yet then, guess what? With effort and application you can learn better leadership skills. Here are some articles that will help you:

4) Resilience

It takes a thick skin, bravery and an optimistic outlook to venture into the unpredictable world of business. Yes, you’ll make mistakes. And you’ll certainly have to contend with failure. But a resilient entrepreneur will be able to take the blows and come back fighting.

Just look at Apple, and the legacy that Steve Jobs has left behind. It’s hard to believe that at one point he was removed from the business after a disagreement with the board. However, Jobs didn’t give up, and eventually made a triumphant return to Apple after helping found NeXT and Pixar.

So how can you boost your own resilience? It partly comes from stubbornness – a conviction that you WILL succeed and a determination to achieve, despite setbacks. And it partly comes from knowing, and harnessing, your natural character strengths; you need every weapon in your unique personal arsenal.

But it also comes from a position of emotional strength. Of ensuring your physical and emotional needs are taken are of, giving you enough reserves to weather the inevitable storms that come with growing a business.

We recommend reading these articles to help you become the resilient entrepreneur your business needs:

5) Innovative thinking

It’s going tough to make it in the business world if your idea is simply an unimaginative copy of another business. Even if you’re offering a similar product or service, you need to have something special or unique. You need to give people a reason to notice, want and buy from you.

And this requires you to be an innovative thinker. You need to approach common problems with a fresh perspective. And you need to be very clear about your USP – the one reason why a customer should buy from you.

So how do you develop innovative thinking? Luckily, like many attributes, creative thinking can be learned and improved with practice. Here are some articles that will help you to develop your creative thinking and find an innovative USP for your business:

What business skills do you need to learn?

No one is born an entrepreneur. Every single successful business leader you admire has evolved and learned hard personal and business lessons on the road to the position they hold now.

And often, in our opinion, what sets apart those entrepreneurs who succeed isn’t luck, opportunity or innate skills, but the ability to bounce back from failure and learn.

So if you dream of running a successful business, don’t rest on the laurels you have, or write yourself off because you lack a particular attribute or skill. Instead seek a path of continual learning, and become the leader your business needs.

Need more help becoming a confidence, resilient, creative entrepreneur? Find out how our courses and coaching programmes can help

Photo by Raj Eiamworakul