This article is the second and final part of the Entrepreneur Life Skills series. To get the best value, I suggest that you read Part One first, before you continue.
If you’ve read Part One already, then dig in…
A university degree doesnt guarantee success in the world of entrepreneurship – there are important life skills you must have to succeed as an entrepreneur, especially if you’re doing, or want to start, a business in Africa. (find first five in part 1)
The skills we looked at were: negotiation, money, the failure mindset, decision-making and positive thinking.
Surprisingly, while all of these skills are critical to survival in the world of business, they are not contained in the school curricula.
Why aren’t schools teaching these important life skills?
The truth is, our schools teach, equip and condition us to become model employees. That’s why even the best trained MBAs focus on getting the next best high-paying job, and not the next disruptive business ideas.
In this article, I’ll explore the last five most important life skills you’ll need to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Let’s meet them.
6) Selling and Persuasion
Every business exists to sell a product or service. That’s how money is made. Period.
No matter how great your product or service, if you cannot convince customers to reach out for their wallets and pay for it, you’re out of business!
That’s why one of the best qualities of successful entrepreneurs is their strong selling and persuasive skills. When you meet them, or listen to them, it’s always clear that they’re remarkable salespeople.
And that’s because they know that the key to making money in any business is the ability to sell. The better you can sell, the more money you can make.
In fact, the power of selling and persuasion skills goes beyond convincing a customer to buy your product or service.
Whether you’re meeting with a bank manager to convince her about a loan for your business, or you’re trying to get the cooperation of potential partners for your business idea, selling and persuasion skills will always be an advantage if you know how to use it.
Actually, we use selling and persuasion skills all the time, but we’re only lightly aware of it.
Children use it on their parents, husbands and wives use it on each other, employees and employers also use the power of selling and persuasion all the time.
But only the most successful entrepreneurs have mastered the art and science of selling and persuasion. That’s why they’re able to make impossible business deals.
Fortunately, although our schools don’t teach this skill like they should, selling and persuasion can be learned through study and constant practice. You can learn it, apply it, and master it, just like most successful entrepreneurs have.
Some of the best books on the subject of selling and persuasion are:
- The Art of Seduction, by Robert Greene – I’ve read this one and it’s a truly amazing book. It’s an interesting mix of history, psychology and literature.
- The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino – One of the Top 10 Most Influential Business Books on selling. It’s on my To-Read list.
- Secrets of Closing the Sale, by Zig Ziglar – Best Seller; definitely on my list.
- The Little Red Book of Selling, by Jeff Gitomer – Heard a lot of great stuff about this book. It’s certainly on my To-Read list.
- You can also check out Inc’s Top 10 ‘How to Sell’ Books of All Time.
This is one of the most taken-for-granted skills of all time. But curiosity is a very, very powerful skill to have.
Truth be told, I’m not sure curiousity is a skill that can be taught in a classroom or anywhere else for that matter. However, if you make up your mind to be a curious person, and live by it, it will only be a matter of time before it becomes second nature.
Every successful entrepreneur on earth has a higher-than-average level of curiosity. They have trained their minds to look beyond the ordinary, to constantly ask questions, and to reach beyond their comfort zones.
Here’s what Donald Trump has to say about curiousity:
If you really want to succeed, you’ll have to go for it every day like I do. The big time isn’t for slackers. Keep up your mental stamina and remain curious. I think that bored people are unintelligent people.
The reality is, entrepreneurs thrive on exploiting business ideas and market opportunities. That’s how they make money and become successful. Their high sense of curiosity allows them to advance their imagination and keep digging for opportunities until they find them.
The fact is, every human being is born with a heavy dose of curiosity.
We can clearly see this curiousity at work in young children as they explore their environment, attempt to reach beyond boundaries and ask a lot of questions, both silly and not-so-silly questions.
Unfortunately, as we enter adulthood, many of us lose that high sense of curiousity.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires a high and healthy dose of curiosity. If you’re really serious about becoming one, you need to re-energise your curiousity levels.
8) Managing Time
Of all the natural, mineral, human and material resources on our planet, none is more valuable than time.
We all get 24 hours in a single day. That’s it. If you waste or squander yours, it’s gone forever. Time lost can never be regained. Time is a currency that, once spent, can never be regained, recycled or returned.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that time is our most precious and scarcest resource. That’s why they have developed the powerful skill of managing their time and using it effectively to achieve their goals.
In today’s world, it can be very challenging to manage time. With constant distractions from social media, telephones and the internet, most people find it hard to focus on their daily tasks. As a result, their overall productivity suffers.
Successful entrepreneurs use a combination of time management strategies including: prioritization, focus, planning, delegation, multi-tasking and several others to squeeze the most value from their limited time resources.
Fortunately, time management is a skill that, with discipline, can be learned and mastered too.
To get you started, here are some of the best books out there on time management:
- Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy – This book explores 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time.
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity, by David Allen
- The 25 Best Time Management Tools and Techniques, by Pamela Dodd and Doug Sundheim
- The One-Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
9) Continuous learning
Information is power. Information can give you a significant advantage over the competition. But to exploit information, you need to seek it, understand it, and then use it.
In their quest for information, successful entrepreneurs never stop learning. Because they understand that they don’t know everything, they always have to keep learning.
The world of business is always in a state of constant change. Government policies, market conditions, consumer tastes and demand, industry trends, interest rates and competition are just a few of the constant changes every entrepreneur has to look out for.
That’s why smart entrepreneurs are always learning.
We live in an age of fast-changing technologies, disruptive business models and high social awareness. It’s difficult to survive in business these days if you lack the discipline to constantly update yourself with the goings on in your environment and the business landscape.
Continuous learning is a skill that eventually evolves into a habit. The ability to seek, understand and exploit information is a skill that all successful entrepreneurs unconsciously apply everyday.
They follow the news, subscribe to industry reports and read books and blogs on a wide range of topics that affect their business. They also attend live events which give them the opportunity to network with knowledgeable people in their markets.
Nowadays, with the help of the internet, you can learn anything you want. Here’s one resource you’ll find very valuable:
In today’s world, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be learning everyday. These days, knowledge is often one click away, on your mobile phone. Use it!
Starting and running a business is a huge and very serious responsibility. Depending on the size of your business, several people will be depending on you, including you.
The quality of relationships you have with your employees, investors, business partners, and suppliers will be largely determined by the quality of leadership you can demonstrate.
To me, leadership is a combination of several different qualities. Self-motivation, self-belief, discipline, personal responsibility, integrity, communication, vision, commitment andemotional intelligence are just some of the most critical elements that define a leader.
Especially in Africa’s challenging business environment, every entrepreneur will have their leadership abilities tested from time to time.
Your ability to lead yourself and the people who depend on you, in spite of all the odds and setbacks, will determine your extent of success.
Are leaders born or made?
I’ll say, both. Some leaders are born, some others are made.
The good news is, you can learn to become a leader through consistent practice and application of leadership principles.
Everyone of us becomes a leader someday. You may be the head of your family, the coach or captain of a sports team, the president of your local community or religious organization.
Above all, you could (and should) be running your own business someday.
So, whichever way the pendulum swings in your life, you would have to rely on your leadership skills someday, no matter how poorly or highly developed they are.
Again, the absence of leadership training as a core element of our school curriculum is just another shocking flaw in the system. If the natural leadership abilities of young people are nurtured from an early age, they stand a better chance of becoming very successful entrepreneurs, and leaders, in general.
In my efforts to develop my own leadership skills, here are a few interesting books that are on my reading list:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey – This is definitely one of most popular books on leadership ever written
- Developing The Leader Within You, by John C. Maxwell – My personal favourite
- The 360 Degree Leader, by John C. Maxwell – Another personal favourite
- The Art of War, by Sun Tzu – Though written over 2,000 years ago, this Chinese leadership and strategy classic remains very relevant today.
Bonus: The 11th Skill
In addition to all the life skills I’ve shared with you in this article, there’s is none quite as powerful as the 11th skill.
To my mind, The 11th Skill is the most powerful of them all. It’s the common defining quality of every entrepreneur on earth, regardless of their age, race or level of education.
The 11th skill is Action.
It’s a simple, common and over-used word, but “Action” makes all the difference in the world. It’s the difference between a person who has a bright idea, and another person who takes action on an average idea and builds it into a successful business.
Action is what separates ‘dreamers’ and ‘idea junkies’ from entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs don’t just dream, they take action on their dreams to make them a reality.
It’s not enough to have an amazing idea or a revolutionary vision. Your idea or vision is not of any use to anyone if it’s just sitting in your head. That’s not how the world works.
Success only goes to those who take action. It’s no surprise that the smartest and most intelligent of us, are often not the most successful.
To become a successful entrepreneur, the ability to take action, even when you’re only half-sure of the outcome, is a very important skill to have.
Dream. Act. Start.
Are you developing your Entrepreneur Life Skills?
No matter your level of ‘academic’ education, it’s clear that you will need to take personal responsibility for developing the ten important life skills covered in this series, if you plan to become a successful entrepreneur.
What do you think about the life skills you’ve learned so far?
Do you agree or disagree with any one of them?
What’s your experience with these skills in the real world?
Have your say in the Comments section below. Let’s rub minds.
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To your success!
Culled from smallstarter.com