To be an entrepreneur is a full-time job, and you must have certain traits to be a successful woman entrepreneur. If you want to know what skills you need as a successful entrepreneur, then read this!
What are the most important skills successful entrepreneurs have?
To succeed in the world today as an entrepreneur is the ultimate definition of the American Dream. Creating your own business from scratch and the idea of growing it from idea to seedling to startup to sustainable success is definitely the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s something we hear about almost every day in the media. But let’s be honest: it’s not so easy to do. And for every new company that makes it big, there are literally millions that never make it past the launch phase. So, let’s dissect exactly what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
What is an entrepreneur?
To know how to become a successful entrepreneur, we must first understand exactly what an entrepreneur really is. A quick dictionary search tells us the basic entrepreneurship definition: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. But what does that really mean?
Depending on whether you’re flying solo or with a partner, the exact job descriptions that you assign may vary, but at the end of the day, it means that you are taking ultimate responsibility for every single facet and detail of your new operation. In a nutshell, what it really boils down to is this: the buck stops with you, baby. As the founder, owner, and boss, what CEO usually means in the startup capacity is Chief Everything Officer. This is especially the case when a new entrepreneur is starting out without funding or outside capital.
When push comes to shove and you’re trying to decide if you have what it takes, what is the real, no-fluff entrepreneurship definition? Think of it like this: it means that you are willing to lay it all on the line and do whatever it takes in pursuit of bringing your dream business to fruition. You’re willing to be the owner, financier, boss and every single employee in the company. From sales, marketing, and customer service to finance, operations, legal, and quality control; you make the ultimate decisions that determine if your company sinks or swims.
Having a great business idea is a good start, but it’s not enough to ensure your success as a business owner. To save yourself from the entrepreneurial graveyard, there are some serious skills you must develop in addition to your killer business plan. So, what must an entrepreneur do after creating a business plan? And, how can you tell if you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneurial woman?
The qualities of a successful entrepreneur
The skills necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur are the same for both men and women, no doubt. But, at Digging Deeper for Success, we are specifically passionate about empowering dream-chasing women to crush their personal and professional goals, so we’re going to share eight skills and qualities that are essential to your success as a woman entrepreneur.
First and foremost, to become a successful entrepreneur, you must be goal-oriented and driven to accomplish your goals. If you don’t have the drive to push forward amidst frustration, crisis, and monotony, your dreams will most likely never see the light of day. Olympic medalists and professional athletes can all attest to the classic line, “Who motivates a champion? The champion.” Even the best coaches and mentors in the world can’t help you to succeed if you don’t have the inner drive to show up regardless of the circumstances and do the hard work yourself.
Next on the list of crucial entrepreneurship skills is leadership. Leadership may seem to some like a lofty trait that one is born with or without, but this is a myth. Like every other quality on this list, leadership is a skill, which means it can be taught, learned, and developed. According to renowned leadership expert John C. Maxwell, “leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”. So, whether you’re leading a crowd of 1 or 1,000 the same principles apply.
As the head of your team, it will be your job to cast the vision, inspire your people, set the standard of excellence for your growing organization, and keep everyone moving forward as one cohesive group. From employees to volunteers to prospective clients, vendors, media outlets, and future investors, you’re not just selling people on your business idea, you’re keeping them locked in on your mission. The ability of a great leader is to help people travel the path as far as they can see, and then help them see further.
In business and in life, there are three ways to lead: one) by example, two) by example, and three) by example. As the old saying goes, you cannot teach what you do not know, you cannot lead where you do not go. You can’t give away what you don’t have. So, as we hone our skills and develop our craft, we will naturally dig a deeper and deeper well from which to share with others.
If you’re new to leadership and looking for a place to get started, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell is an excellent read.
You can also check the entire list of the books I personally read to learn more about personal development.
Time Management is one of the most critical make-or-break skills of any person with a big dream, but it’s even higher on the list of necessary qualities of women entrepreneurs. Because your job, especially in the startup phase of your company, is often to wear the hats of multiple people and perform every role on the team, it can be very easy to get lost in the workload. And on top of all that, many entrepreneurial women must still juggle all the responsibilities of running a family at home. Without the right focus and perspective, it’s easy to slip into overwhelm.
However, time management isn’t really time management at all. In the words of Albert Einstein, “time management is an oxymoron”. It’s like trying to rope the wind or herd cats…it’s just not possible. On the contrary, time management is really about priorities management and learning how to best manage the priorities and tasks within certain blocks of time.
With strong time-management skills, you will not only be able to accomplish more in less time, but you’ll experience the peace of mind and emotional freedom that come from knowing your time and energy are well invested for the maximum return on your investment. For a more in-depth discussion on time management, check out our blog post, Time Management Struggles for High Achieving Women.
Next on the list of skills that every entrepreneur needs to succeed is thinking style. This is a quality that most people sadly miss out on their entire lives, simply because they are never even aware that it’s something one can develop. Creative thinking, critical thinking, analytical thinking, solutions-oriented thinking, strategic thinking, and abundant thinking are all different thinking styles that set the most successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the crowd. Here is a very brief overview of each of these thinking styles, along with links to some great sources that can help you dig deeper into each style:
- Creative thinking – the ability to think outside the box and consider something in a new way.
- Critical thinking and analytical thinking – these two ways of thinking are often mistaken as synonyms. Both allow you to intelligently process data, however they have different meanings.
- Solutions-oriented thinking – the ability to focus on the desired solution rather than dwelling on the problem or challenge.
- Strategic thinking – the ability to come up with effective plans in line with one’s objectives. Strategic thinking helps business managers perform long term planning, set goals and determine priorities, and identify potential risks and opportunities.
- Abundant thinking – a mindset that there is always a way to win, solve a problem, and succeed. This is in stark contrast to a scarcity mentality which leads one to make decisions from a place of lack.
Strong Planning and Organizational Skills
If time management is really about knowing how to best manage tasks and priorities, then strong planning and organizational skills are really about knowing how to best manage your thoughts.
For a successful businesswoman, organizational skills refer to the ability to organize both your physical space and your ideas and projects. And as an important side note: It’s crucial to understand that physical clutter leads to mental clutter.
Good project management software is a huge asset, but before we can organize a project online, we must first be able to map it out in our minds.
Learning how to become a strong planner and organizer is a skill that is often caught better than it is taught. In other words, it’s a great idea to seek out someone in your life who is already strong in this area and ask to shadow them. Or better yet, volunteer to help them on one of their projects and serve as a short-term apprentice. This will endear you to them, get them even more excited to mentor you, and teach you these invaluable skills all at the same time.
The importance and value of interpersonal skills to the overall long-term success of an entrepreneur cannot be stressed enough. This skill is all about relationships. Managing a team, growing your network, engaging a prospective client or investor, treating your customers right, and effectively managing conflict are all a part of the daily job description of an entrepreneur.
Legend has it that the founder of Starbucks was once asked how the coffee business was treating him. To this he replied, “I have no idea. I’m not in the coffee business; I’m in the people business.” Regardless of your particular industry, to win in your business, you must win with people.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that people do business with people they like. John C. Maxwell refers to this as the Law of Likability. So, in general, if you’re a fun, pleasant, and engaging person, then you’re likely to go further in life than someone who is a miserable cow.
This principle really boils down to how you make others feel. Therefore, communication skills are a big piece of this pie. As Mary Kay Ash famously said, “Everyone has a sign around their neck that says, ‘Make me feel important’. Never forget this message when working with people.”
When two or more people work together, opinions will inevitably differ. Hence, negotiation isn’t needed just to close a deal or end an argument. It’s a crucial skill that is also necessary in order to create strong bonds and teams that can cross the finish line together.
In old school generations, negotiations meant winning at someone else’s expense. In today’s world, we know that collaboration is more valuable than competition. Strong leaders with good communication skills and an abundant mindset know that the best solution is a win-win situation, where everyone can walk away from the table feeling good about the solution.
In her book, Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything, Alexandra Carter teaches how to get more value in business and in your personal relationships by learning to negotiate through asking rather than arguing.
Last, but certainly not least on our list of skills for entrepreneurs is emotional management. This includes learning how to deal with failures and relieve stress, how to become resilient, how to develop a ‘never-say-die’ mentality, and consistency, which boils down to the ability to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it.
Failure and challenges are just part of the game of winning in business. Learning how to overcome them, learn from them, and use them as fuel to become better are critical skills for entrepreneurs.
The late great General George Patton says, “success is how you bounce on the bottom”. For anyone looking to build their emotional management muscles, here are two must-reads: General Patton’s Principles for Life & Leadership and Can’t Hurt Me.
Simply put, when you learn to manage your emotions, you gain control of your outcome and your future.
Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
The list of skills required to succeed as an entrepreneur can seem overwhelming at the beginning. But once you get a taste of the entrepreneurial spirit, it’s hard to revert back to the concept of working in a job where you are simply helping someone else’s dream come true. Once someone develops an entrepreneurial mentality, they fully understand that if you’ll be willing to do for a few short years what most people won’t do, then you’ll be able to do for the rest of your life what most people can’t do.
Even if you think you’re missing some of these skills right now, don’t worry! Every single one of these entrepreneurial skills are able to be developed over time with focus and effort. You can build them all with a little dedication and good ol’ fashioned elbow grease.
And One Last Thing…
There is a big bonus that comes from investing the time, effort, and energy to develop these 8 critical qualities of a woman entrepreneur. Every ounce of effort you invest in yourself here will pay you back big time in your own personal life – far beyond the walls of business. If you take a look back at these 8 skills, you’ll see that they’re actually life skills that have nothing to do with your particular business.
FYI, this is why many, many entrepreneurs and dream chasers never see the success they desire. Sadly, they spend all their time focused only on the technical skills specific to their industry and never pick their heads up to look around at what it takes to get their business out to the world.
But as you become purposeful in honing these essential entrepreneur skills and qualities, you will likely see your business and your life begin to soar. Why? Because as you strengthen your leadership, time management, thinking style, planning and organization, interpersonal skills, negotiation, and emotional management, it will reap a massive ROI in every area of your life. Your personal relationships, community impact, finances, and health will all become crazy bonus side effects that improve simply because you’ve chosen to upskill yourself as a rising woman entrepreneur.
So, dig deep and invest in yourself with these skills for entrepreneurs. Your business – and your life – will never be the same. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Digging Deeper for Success newsletter. Join our tribe to get high value coaching, tips, and scoops on how to chase your dreams and slay your goals!