Thought Leader ‘Michael Gerber’ says that entrepreneurs need five core skills:
Concentration, Discrimination, Organisation, Innovation and Communication.
I agree, but I believe there are some other skills the Nigerian entrepreneur must master to make it in our milieu. Writing from the perspective of a local business run with global best practices, I will chunk the skill sets so we can review quickly.
So, the skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur include:
Learning and innovation
These include critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation skills.
Entrepreneurs must be able to think independently, reflectively and see clearly all sides of a problem in order to arrive at the best course forward or solution. Any entrepreneur who hasn’t developed this, will constantly be playing catch up in the industry. I will also affect simple decisions within the organization.
These group of skills are developed through lifelong learning, a strong reading habit as well as developing a formidable circle of genius (a.k.a. network).
This refers to your ability to ability to find, evaluate, produce and communicate clear information through writing and other forms of communication on various digital platforms. We live in the 21st century, where almost all aspects of life (save birthing) is being migrated to digital platforms.
Your skill when conducting digital research, engaging with the media as well as your social fluency or literacy means breakthrough or burst when you have to engage with your stakeholders.
In addition, you command of this skills stands you in good stead when providing or contributing to solutions which will be delivered digitally.
Two best ways I know to develop this skills – the first is unavoidable; you have to learn (study). Sign up for classes, attend Webinars and Masterclasses and such. There are a myriad of free courses online on e-Learning platforms.
The next way is practice. They say practice makes perfect. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.
Personal or Power Skills
I believe strongly that the skills that can push us to stratosphere high success are the skills which come from our core.
Some call them Personal skills, I’d rather call them power skills. They include skills like Empathy, Integrity, Strong work ethics, Teachability, Personal Management, Emotional intelligence (which covers interpersonal and collaborative skills).
Entrepreneurs who have made lasting and notable success have so much to say about these Power Skills
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five Minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently.”
– Warren Buffett
“People can’t live with change if there is not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.” – Stephen R Covey
“Leadership is about empathy.”
Trust is one of those things freely given, but easily lost.
I hear of many entrepreneurs who trusted their staff, suppliers, bankers etc. and whose trust was betrayed. We have all heard the story; financial misappropriation, cooked books etc.; you name it, we’ve heard it.
I insist that there is a difference between trust, and abdicating responsibility. When an entrepreneur lacks financial acuity, poor business decisions are made. Financial acumen is a skill that can be learned and supports integrity in the numbers because everyone understands the books using the same measuring stick or perspective.
You must balance your trust with your financial acumen. Basic financial literacy could save you millions.
Obviously, there are other skills required to really excel as an entrepreneur. Some of them are listed above, others you have to discover for yourself.
One thing I do want to emphasize, and that is skills are not developed in a vacuum. There is no magic prayer for success or skills that can automatically imbue you with these skills.
I recommend the seminal text by Peter F. Drucker ‘The Effective Executive’. It is as relevant today as it was when it was written.
In this book, Drucker explains that these skills are developed by habits – things we continually do. The effects of these habits compound over time and we reap the benefits (for positive habits) in the success we enjoy.
You must have a plan to develop these skills. Many of us are born with seedlings, but we have to nurture and grow them to really succeed.
Take some time out and look at each of these skills, look for them within yourself and make a plan to intentionally grow, nurture and use them to build a great institution.