9 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs to Master

Happy, confident creative businessman planning, scheduling at calendar blackboard
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Most entrepreneurs and motivated professionals know the importance of investing in themselves—building valuable skills and improving their strengths over time. By now, many business owners have made their business-related plans for what they want to accomplish in 2019.

The skills that are important for entrepreneurs or others who might be starting new businesses evolve with time and are different from what might have been most important 10 or 20 years ago. A lot of that is based on technology, but some of it also is based on the way employees want to be able to work.

Use these elements to your advantage as you build a successful operation.

1. Technology

While business owners themselves do not need to be experts information technology, they do need to invest in employees or consultants who have that expertise. Retail businesses need point-of-sale (POS) systems that are compatible with mobile payment systems like Google Pay or Apple Pay. It's also important to have a web presence that emphasizes search engine optimization. It's important to have a web developer on staff or to contract with one who has the SEO skills to make sure your online content is being seen by your target demographics. Websites also need to be mobile-friendly in addition to being desktop-friendly to reach potential customers accessing the site through their smartphones.

2. Originality

Being able to do effective market research is an essential skill. If you're not the only widget shop in town, you should be selling widgets in a way that no one else is selling them. In other words, find a void in your community and fill it. This doesn't mean your business has to be unique, but you should be confident there is demand. For example, there might be 10 pizza shops in town, but if your research tells you that's still not enough to meet community demand, don't be afraid to be the eleventh. However, even if there's demand for another pizza shop, you still want to offer something in terms of product or service that the other 10 might be neglecting. Set yourself apart.

3. Social Media

Being adept at taking advantage of social media trends is vital to any business trying to establish itself in a market. Social media evolves rapidly, and as of May of 2019, Facebook and Instagram both were piloting new policies to address privacy concerns and to attempt to rein in hate speech and intentionally misleading news stories. Entrepreneurs with the skills to stay on top of these changes and use them as an opportunity to get ahead of the competition have a greater chance to be successful.

4. Relationship Building

Make friends and build mutually beneficial relationships that will give you the potential for big new opportunities in the future. Be active with your community's business organizations and collaborate with other businesses as much as possible. Contract or consult with a local design firm when creating your new business's logo, seek out opportunities for cross-promotion with businesses that overlap with yours in some way, and sponsor community organizations, among other collaborative possibilities.

5. Hiring and Talent Sourcing

When starting a new business, it's ideal to already have some people in mind who you know will be reliable and trustworthy. In the best scenarios, these are people who share your vision and want to see it come to fruition. While such scenarios aren't always realistic, it's vitally important to surround yourself with a strong core of employees from which you can build a staff. This core might be only a couple of people, but they should fully understand what you're trying to accomplish and complement your own skills well. For example, if you're a talented chef starting your own restaurant, you might need an experienced business manager to help lead that aspect of your operation. Trust these first few core employees to do their jobs and surround them with talented staff.

6. Strategy Formulation

For your first year or first few years of operation, you should have goals that are broken down quarterly or even monthly. Plan out where you expect to be every step of the way in terms of financing, staffing, marketing, and any other relevant part of your business. A detailed SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis always is a good way to get yourself and your team members to start thinking strategically. As you move through your beginning months and years in operation, it's always a good idea to revisit strategies on a regular basis to make sure they still appropriate based on any changes with your business or the marketplace.

7. Flexibility

More employees today are looking for flexibility in their hours and their work locations, and recruiting the best talent often means being able to provide this. If employees can work a portion or all of their hours remotely, this can improve morale and efficiency as well being beneficial to the employee. Jobs with flexible hours also can be more appealing to candidates, and a telecommuting workforce can help reduce overhead costs.

8. Financial Management

Know how to manage and grow your finances. You might be a whiz with this aspect of running a business, but if you're not, you need to make sure you hire someone who is. Expect to lose money early on as you build your brand and your reputation. This means you need to have enough start-up capital to cover early losses. Once you become profitable, you need to have a plan for where those profits will go. Depending on the nature of your business, you might wish to expand, open additional branches, or invest in developing new products. Whatever your priority, have a plan for getting there and how you are going to fund it.

9. Failure Management

New businesses hit speed bumps and struggle at times. No matter how well you've planned or how great the people you've hired, an unexpected twist will create problems that need to be overcome. Knowing this is likely, you can budget for unexpected expenses and mentally prepare yourself to not panic. When you respond quickly and calmly to a crisis, your management team will follow your lead, and their staffs will follow your managers, better enabling your business to navigate the storm.