I’ve been doing a bit of thinking and research lately into what you might call the skills or qualities that a successful entrepreneur needs. Here’s a quick whizz through some of the things that I reckon you need to create and run your business:
- Original Thinking & Creativity. Whether your business idea is brand new or an attempt to use an existing idea but doing it better than anyone else, keep your eyes and your mind open for ways of making your business stand out from everybody elses. Look for new trends, new ways of expressing yourself, a different angle on an old product or service. Ask employees and customers what they think. Spend time evaluating all the ideas and feedback that comes your way. You will find the answer.
- Managing Money. Even if facts and figures aren’t your strong point, it is critical to know the costs of your business in detail. You must know to the nearest pound how much it costs to provide your product or service. Only then can you get a feel for what price to charge in order to earn a profit. And only then can you consider doing deals and providing quotes to generate new business. Keep a very close eye on money coming in to the business and the bills that you need to pay soon. Question every item of expenditure in the earliest days of a new business. Don’t waste money on a luxurious office and the latest PC. Work from home or get a market stall. Beg or borrow equipment rather than buying or leasing. Keep those costs right down at the start to give yourself a chance of making some money early on to build up a business with.
- Motivation & Persistence. The great entrepreneurs are always characterised by their passion for what they are doing. Are you 100% rock-solid committed (some would say obsessed) to your business idea? Are you finding it mentally tough to keep going when things just don’t seem to be going your way? Feel like throwing in the towel because its just too hard and not worth the effort? Don’t give up. Take a long term view, build up your business slowly, carefully and with solid foundations. Keep on going. Read the biographies of the rich and famous and you will always find that they believe in theirselves and their business. When they reach a setback they fight back by finding a different way of moving their business forward until success is achieved, no matter what it takes.
- Time Management & Delegation. In the early days there is just so much to do that the pressure is on to be a jack-of-all-trades. To save on costs you try to do everything yourself, understandably. The clever trick once the business is earning a little money is to delegate or outsource those bits of the business that don’t interest you or that you acknowledge you are no good at. The number one role for an entrepreneur is to keep the business moving forward. Make sure that you concentrate on leading the business and on the things that you are good at. Get the best people around you to do the other things. There’s one thing that you must keep a very close eye on, even if you delegate the day-to-day stuff to someone else. And that’s the money side of the business. If you don’t fully understand it, for goodness sake get someone trustworthy to manage it for you and to keep you fully informed on a very regular basis.
- Marketing. Its easy to get passionate and excited about your idea for a new product/service but you must balance that against a dose of reality. Think hard about who is likely to buy this product and how they are going to know about its existence. In actual fact, there’s a lot of sense in looking at the marketing challenge the other way round, i.e customers first, then product. At first it sounds a difficult concept to get your head round but try to think in terms of who the customers are for your business; then find out what products they really, really want; and then you know with certainty what products you should be trying to create. Going through this process will help you enormously to work out how to advertise your new product to your prospective customers. When you’re ready, go all out with your marketing campaigns to get their attention and get them buying. Better to spend your last £100 on marketing your existing products than wasting it on developing the latest gee-whizz gadget but then finding you’ve no money to market it to anyone. This is crucial. No marketing means no sales means no business. So get good at marketing as quickly as you can. Your business depends upon it.