Does entrepreneurship run in the family or is it a set of skills that can be acquired? It’s true you need a great idea to get started and of course a business plan but this is just 20% of what is needed to launch your venture. The rest 80% is how you execute the idea by using your skills, knowledge and experience. This Skill Talk by Dr. Nandita Sethi, Managing Director, The Entrepreneur Zone (TEZ), unfolds layers of skills that are needed to launch yourself as an entrepreneur and successfully sustain your startup.
Entrepreneurship is a skill
Most people think entrepreneurship runs in your family and it’s got to do with your DNA. But, if you look at successful entrepreneurs around the world, they are not born with it; it is an acquired skill. It may run in the family because these people grow up learning those skills everyday and imbibe them into their systems. So, it is not the family business background, but the skills that matter.
The ability to take risks
This is most important and it doesn’t come naturally to us. Taking risks and doing business are two sides of the same coin. It’s more of a mental skill that you learn by yourself. You can actually mitigate the risk in some way, you can look at various options or lines of action, just like how you pick up market shares and balance them between different portfolios to reduce the risks.
Flexibility in thinking
If an idea has not worked out in business, you need to very quickly change this action to evolve your business to take on a new level. So, you cannot afford to get stuck with ego issues related to your idea. When people come to us with ideas, they rarely end up with the same idea; they are open to changes. It’s not necessary that you start in a big way. It’s good to start small but dream big. Being resilient and thinking on your feet can help you change quickly and catch the opportunities available.
Ability to communicate, convince and network
Your ability to communicate with clarity, convince people and your personal commitment and passion can take you a long way in your interaction with your team members, mentor, investors and facilitators and customers. Along with it, you need to expand your network and leverage it smartly by talking to people, attending meet-ups, seminars and similar events. Remember business happens over networks. You could even enroll for relevant short-term courses in these areas to learn these skills.
Remaining focused and self management
Often, entrepreneurs reach a level and start losing focus. They will not be able to move forward. So, you need to keep bringing back the focus to keep yourself and your team on track. This also calls for tremendous levels of perseverance and the ability to be thick-skinned. You simply cannot give up easily! Along with this focus requires a skill to manage yourself, as there would be nobody to manage you at the helm of affairs. This implies managing your time, your health, your hobbies, your relationships and your life in general. Otherwise, your success in one could be badly at the cost of the other.
Entrepreneurship is a skill that can be learnt across segments, age groups, genders and social backgrounds, with family history. If you have interest in it, you can acquire the skills. Successful entrepreneurship is a mindset; it’s a culmination of all the skills.
Being tech-savvy and functional skills
If you are not tech-savvy, you should have team members to complement the skills. Today, many investors are interested in asset-light and tech-savvy business ideas. It’s critical for startups to form their teams in such a way that they have a judicious mix of talent that can give right focus to the business and drive it in the right direction.
Training and skill development
Self-learning and getting trained helps in sustaining a startup, especially first 1000 days are challenging and critical. There are many training programs on entrepreneurship, risk management, leadership, self-management, team management and communication, etc. You could enroll for online courses and also acquire the skills by practice. This is when you learn by doing and making mistakes, since it’s not a journey with clearly marked milestones.
People skills and customer management
Your assessment of people can cost you heavily, if you don’t take the right people on board. Not only assessing people, but assessing situations as well. This is true with the entire spectrum of people you deal with in your industry segment and across the value chain.
Today, most businesses are focused on customers and it’s really not about how you are bringing your product or service to the market. First, getting customers on board and then designing products according to their requirements is the norm of the day. In this context, you need different skills to understand customer needs, problems and how your product or service is going to address those needs.
Dealing with failure
They should be ready to take failure and bounce back into action. Failure is an integral part of an entrepreneurial journey and an important milestone to success. Entrepreneurship is not like taking up a job . Because, here you are putting in too many assets of yours – mental, physical, financial – so people take this failure as a personal failure. But in fact, this is not so and should be taken as one milestone crossed in the journey. If you look at the history of all famous entrepreneurs, there’s not a single person who hasn’t failed.
A lot of times, it’s a rollercoaster ride. You should remember that if success gets into your head, it can’t be sustained, it’s not going to be long before the downward journey starts. Both in failure and success you have to be very resilient. A successful moment should be used for exploring opportunities to expand, whether in the lines of your own business or something that can be done of social relevance. So success shouldn’t become the point of failure.