Great entrepreneurs are a combination of many different skills and traits. Some of them can come naturally, like personality traits. But most entrepreneurs will also need a variety of both technical (“hard”) skills and non-technical (“soft”) skills to help prepare them for doing business in the modern world.
Precisely what skills should an entrepreneur have? It can depend on a variety of factors – because not all entrepreneurship is the same. But learning more about those elements can help you develop a better idea of how to be an entrepreneur, and how you can start moving towards achieving that goal.
Personality Traits of an Entrepreneur
What makes a successful entrepreneur? Although personality isn’t everything, research suggests it’s part of the picture. Openness to experience, extraversion, and risk tolerance can have a big impact on whether or not a person chooses to start self-employment. And another set of personality factors, especially agreeableness and low risk tolerance, are predictive of an exit from self-employment.
Why is risk tolerance so important? Business owners will regularly experience periods of uncertainty. You might find yourself wondering if a new law will require you to spend a small fortune refitting your business or after investing heavily in overhead, wondering if a new product line will sell.
Starting a new business will always come with its share of risks of failure. The figures can vary widely depending on who you ask. The grimmest estimates suggest as many as 90% of startups fail. Others suggest the failure rate for new businesses is actually in decline, and is currently around 22.5% for a 1-year-old business. Regardless if it’s 22.5% or 90%, it should be clear that uncertainty and risk come with the territory of entrepreneurship.
An employee loses their job when a business fails, but entrepreneurs can lose much more. This is why risk tolerance is so important. They need to be willing to take the risk in order to reap the benefits of success.
Curiosity, Passion, Dedication
When some people are presented with a new and unexpected problem, especially one that might fall outside of their job description or skillset, their immediate response is to call an expert to help. That can be a rational response when confronted with a highly technical or time-consuming problem; but it can also reflect a lack of curiosity, an unwillingness to “go the extra mile.” And those traits will not do well in entrepreneurship.
Because an entrepreneur will be confronted with a variety of unforeseen problems and difficulties, and it’s not always possible to ask an expert what to do. That means entrepreneurs have to be self-starters — willing and ready to undertake whatever new challenge comes their way. And doing so can require a willingness to learn new skills on a continual basis, which can make curiosity and passion essential.
What Skills Do You Need to Become an Entrepreneur?
While personality traits can provide a good foundation, they are far from everything you need for successful entrepreneurship. In fact, some of the most important skills necessary to become an entrepreneur are soft skills, which are the kinds of skills you can learn in a wide variety of experiences:
Not working under the safety net of a manager means you have to be involved in planning milestones, executing goals, and holding yourself accountable to those timelines. Poor time management can relate to a personality trait called conscientiousness, but skills like time management can also be improved with project management experience. Time management tips can help you master that soft skill.
Often among the most important skills for an entrepreneur, leadership is essential to most managerial positions. If you’re going to have employees, you need to know how to motivate them. You might need to create a vision for the future of your organization, and to architect a plan to achieve that vision. Entrepreneurs have to make tough decisions in response to novel problems, making leadership essential. Learn more about different ways to be a creative leader and why leadership is important in business administration.
Skills like leadership are actually the accumulation of many soft skills, one of which is persuasiveness. Delegation can be a big part of being a boss, but you might also need to be a negotiator, to convince clients about taking a particular course of action, or to encourage your employees to try their best.
Although one of the harder-to-define skills needed to be an entrepreneur, vision is critical. Styles change, interests change, laws change — so entrepreneurship requires identifying challenges for the company in the future, balancing that relationship with day to day responsibilities. In other words, strategic planning. Vision is what allows a person to “see the bigger picture”, and is often achieved through a collection of both hard and soft skills.
Traits of an Entrepreneur – Hard Skills
Some of the skills needed to be an entrepreneur are technical and aren’t as easy to pick up without a rigorous curriculum, so it’s also important to determine the educational requirements for your goals. In order to start your own business, you might need passing familiarity with accounting, marketing, management, and half a dozen other fields. For example, some of the courses at National University’s Bachelor of Business Administration program include:
- ECO 203 Principles of Microeconomics
- FIN 310 Business Finance
- ACC 201 Financial Accounting Funds.
- MKT 302A Marketing Fundamentals
- MTH 210 Probability and Statistics
- MGT 309C Prin. of Mgmt & Organizations
- HRM 432 Recruit, Selection, Promo, Ret
- MNS 407 Management Science
- LAW 305 Legal Aspects of Business II
But if you have a specific idea for a business, you might also want skills appropriate for that business. That’s why our Business Administration program allows you to choose among a variety of concentrations, including areas like business law, project management, and entrepreneurship.
How to Become an Entrepreneur
Getting all the skills necessary for becoming an entrepreneur is ultimately only the first step of a much longer journey. The next step to becoming an entrepreneur is to figure out precisely how you want to apply your skills. Because of all the hard work involved in starting a new business, you may want to select something you’re passionate about working with.
But equally important, you’ll need to know how to identify and fill unserved or underserved demands. That will also mean developing a product or service that’s better (or at least more appealing) than other options on the market. Once you’ve researched a product idea that you’re interested in developing, you’ll need to develop a minimum viable product to help test, validate, and create iterative improvements. From there, you’ll need a business plan that has been validated with buyer persona research. A level of knowledge about the psychology of business can go a long way in honing learning more about market research and personas.
Taking all of these steps requires a wide variety of expertise, from marketing to finance, as well as the execution of a number of soft-skills in-between.
Learn How to Become an Entrepreneur with National University
National University is a nationally accredited institution with a distinctive Bachelor of Business Administration program. Students learn the skills to become an entrepreneur in a broad capacity, with a well-rounded understanding of finance, economics, accounting, marketing, management, statistics, and other skills for entrepreneurship.
Graduates can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a business, discover potential ways to improve it, and use these skills to engage in a variety of business careers inside and outside of entrepreneurship.