If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you need a combination of soft skills to be effective and successful.
In today’s digital-first environment, many are led to believe that entrepreneurs only need to learn specific technical knowledge to thrive in the market.
Yet, if you want to grow and succeed with your business, it’s best to dig deep and see if you have the essential soft skills entrepreneurs and small business owners need to achieve everyday success.
What are Soft Skills?
How do you feel about going to meetings that are scheduled in the early morning? Is it a challenge to get out of bed in the morning? Are you always late for your morning meetings?
If you answered yes, then the soft skill you need to work on is punctuality.
Hard skills, on the other hand, are abilities that are teachable and measurable such as graphic design, writing, web development, etc.
Anyone can learn these things through reading, instruction, and continuous practice.
8 Soft Skills Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners Need to Be Successful
As much as you need to hone your hard skills, entrepreneurs and small business owners also need to continuously improve their soft skills. Soft skills will help you to reach bigger achievements and better success.
With that, here are the eight soft skills every entrepreneur or small business owner must have:
No task or project that requires 2 or more people can be accomplished without communication.
As a leader, you need to learn how to communicate what needs to be done. This helps your team efficiently work on the project or task at hand.
Plus, communicating effectively to your customers is key to scaling up sales. If your marketing strategies don't coincide with your sales or customer service departments then you are subconsciously turning away prospects and customers?
Ultimately this will earn your business a bad reputation for false marketing.
Other than speaking clearly and communicating effectively to the people involved in your business, entrepreneurs and small business owners become successful if they know how to listen.
Listening with an open mind allows for more ideas to flow into your mind.
Plus, it also helps in improving your systems and overall business so you could serve your market better and grow your profit.
No one can succeed alone.
It’s just impossible – one person can’t simply know every little thing to grow a business and be successful.
Every successful entrepreneur needs a team with team members who can each bring a specialty to the table.
More importantly, the whole team should be aligned and purposely driven to the same goal.
This brings us to our second soft skill – teamwork.
As a business owner, you must be able to work well with your team. You shouldn’t have an iron fist where everything must go your way. Teamwork is tied to the soft skill of communication.
After time if your team members have adopted your vision you will notice something magical. They will start to have better ideas than you.
When this happens, you must be open-minded and learn how to incorporate them into your strategy.
Four minds are better than one – as an organization, you’ll be unstoppable if your company has awesome teamwork.
If you’re meeting with a potential business vendor, a customer, or maybe just your team, arriving on-time (it’s always better if you’re early) shows respect to the other people and their time.
Not only that, but it sets a good example for your team.
Punctuality does not only mean coming to meetings and work on time. But also, punctuality has to do with meeting deadlines.
As a business owner, you also have your share of work – you shouldn’t be the bottleneck of your business’ systems.
For instance, there is paperwork that needs to be signed or a visit you need to make in a supplier’s warehouse – you shouldn’t be the cause of the delay.
If you can’t systematize your business processes, you are setting out to fail. The organization is one of the top keys to a business’s success.
There are three reasons why:
1. An organized system allows you to identify which areas of your business are flawed and can be improved. Once you determine these areas, you and your team can work on them, then you’ll have a smooth-sailing system.
2. A fool-proof organized system allows you to scale your business because you already know how to grow your business. When a system is in place, you can multiply these systems to cater to a larger market.
3. When one of your team members decides to leave your small business, his or her replacement will have an easier transition working with your company. Why? Because there are documented systems that he or she needs to learn. Thus, your new employee won’t need to guess how things work around your business.
5. Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving
It’s not every day that things will go as planned. Often, you will be met with hurdles and challenges that could potentially veer you away from your goals.
As an entrepreneur, you must be confident in facing these challenges head-on. Therefore, you should master the art of critical thinking and problem-solving.
Some business owners fail because when they are met with hardships, they let their emotions decide rather than logic.
Mastering critical thinking and problem-solving allows you to see failures as learning lessons and succeed.
Image source collaborate4more.com
6. Adaptability & Flexibility
Adaptability and flexibility relate to critical thinking and problem-solving.
As a business owner or entrepreneur, you must be able to adapt to the changes in the market landscape.
Don’t let your competitors take away your market share just because you couldn’t or refuse to adapt to the changing times.
Don’t be like Kodak who refused to believe that digital photography was a disruptive innovation and that they needed to adapt.
You must learn how to be flexible with your plans – if plan A doesn’t work, you should be able to let it go and move on to plan B.
Or sometimes, if your first business doesn’t work, you should be able to accept that it truly doesn’t work, and work on the next business.
Most of the time, entrepreneurs tie their emotions to their failing original plans that they can’t see that there is a better opportunity ahead.
7. Emotional Intelligence
As mentioned above, you must not let your emotions make decisions.
Ever heard of the saying, “Don’t make decisions when you’re mad, don’t make promises when you’re happy”?
This quote is also true in entrepreneurship.
Some entrepreneurs, even when they’re too deep in debt, find it hard to let go of an idea because they put so much heart into it.
Entrepreneurs must have the emotional intelligence to realize when things are no longer salvageable, and they need to move on to the next business opportunity.
Last but not the least, entrepreneurs and small business owners must have the quality of leadership.
As the owner of the business, everyone in your team is looking up to you.
You as the leader should be able to lead your team to success – that includes coaching them how to do their work better, motivating them toward attaining the business goals, and giving credit when credit is due.
You can be a leader if you don’t possess all the soft skills mentioned above, but it will be harder.
If you find that you are missing one or more of those skills, you only have 2 choices.
First, work to develop that skill. Or find someone with that skill and bring them into your company.
As a leader, you need to set an example because leadership is all about helping others become their best selves.
Why Soft Skills are as Important as Hard Skills
Soft skills are what make up your entrepreneurial mindset and disposition. Yes, you may have the hard skills needed for operating a business or marketing your products.
But do you possess the qualities needed to act and become successful in implementing your plans?
It’s easy to work on an idea and start a business. However, to stabilize, earn a profit, manage a team, and grow your business, you need to have the ideal qualities of a successful entrepreneur.
If you’ve already hired a team of ten people, but you don’t know how to communicate and listen – it would be hard for your team to work on the same goal.
Moreover, they might waste their time working on something that moves your business towards your goals.
You end up with wasted time, wasted effort, and wasted money.
Maybe you have a plan for marketing your products, but a competitor launched the same marketing ploy only a week earlier than your launch date.
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you and try to sabotage your competitor’s marketing by malicious acts? If you can’t do critical thinking, problem-solving, and adapt to this challenge, you are sure to set to fail. Plus, it would smear you and your business’s reputation.
Are You Working on Your Soft Skills?
Working on your soft skills is a continuous process of self-improvement. Some soft skills are harder to instill in your character, but with conscious effort, you are sure to develop them.
Tell me, are there more essential soft skills entrepreneurs and small business owners need to have? Write them down in the comments below!