Soft skills depend on your innate abilities and often cannot be taught. Rather, you need to unlock them and foster them.
An idea and enough money. Is that all you need to start your own business? Unfortunately, not.
Indeed, the combination of a great idea with a large injection of money does not guarantee success in the business world. Take these examples of four big companies that were successful at one point:
Despite inventing digital photography, Kodak remains a sad story of potential lost. This strategic failure was the direct cause of Kodak’s decades-long decline as digital photography destroyed its film-based business model.
The bank had become so deeply involved in mortgage origination that it had effectively become a real estate hedge fund disguised as an investment bank. Being exceptionally vulnerable to any downturn in real estate, in 2008 it became the largest victim of the subprime mortgage crisis.
In the 1980s, it became synonymous with small and practical mobiles. Sadly, for the Finnish company, it failed to see the growing importance of internet-enabled smartphones.
But what about the small businesses that launch and never see a day of glory? They make some income at the start, and then they start struggling. Like these four startups that never took off:
This solar startup – touted as the future of American energy by former President Obama – received almost a billion dollars in loans from the Energy Department in addition to many tax breaks. And yet it failed.
Think Amazon for pet owners, which implies saving money by shopping online and paying less for a plethora of pet products. In late 2000, the startup crashed after burning through $300 million in less than twenty-three months.
It was an early personal money management tool. It received $5 million in funding and lasted through 2010. Its failure was based on a poorly designed user interface.
Of course, there are many factors at play. However, when you compare two similar services that started at the same time with a similar idea and similar finances, it boils down to one thing: the owner’s approach to the business.
You might have an idea and sufficient funds to start your own business, but do you have the skills?
The soft skills of a successful entrepreneur
While there is no formula for being a successful entrepreneur, there are certain skills that are associated with greater entrepreneurial success. A balanced mix of these skills that will enable you to tackle many issues with greater clarity, to brave new ideas and to improve our way of living. All of these skills can be grouped into two skill sets: soft skills (which are described as personal skills) and hard skills (namely, business or learned skills).
The most important soft skills to work on
Modern leaders don’t give orders. They empower their employees to give the best they have.
- Work on your speaking and writing skills.
- Show up and do your part of the work. That’s called leading by example, and it’s what motivates your team members to be productive as well.
In the world of business, risk is always a factor. If you don’t have the courage to take risks and potentially fail, you will stay in a bubble of safety, which will never lead to innovation or success. Playing it safe never made anyone successful.
Of course, learning how to make cost-benefit analyses is crucial. Measure the potential loss and success and make an educated decision. This analysis will give you a broad overview and equip you with the knowledge to make a courageous decision, whatever that may be.
Overtime, stress turns into frustration, and frustration turns a company into an impossible place to work for. As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to manage the work environment.
- Hone in on those skills which allow you to see the big picture and not get bogged down in the minute details. Every obstacle, which may cause you stress, can also path a path to success. Whatever you’re experiencing now, remind yourself that you can always find a solution and move forward.
Communication skills encompass three things:
Listening skills will help you and your colleagues have more open and useful exchanges, where each contributor’s point of view is expressed and heard. This can lead to a more positive working environment too.
The most effective way to communicate is through speech. Good speaking skills enable you to not only win over a crowd, but also to motivate and inform your audience well.
Writing is the primary way business gets done in today’s collaborative world. Effective writing can drive sales, power quality management and bolster efficiency, productivity and innovation.
Once you have all these skills down, you are a powerhouse that can’t be stopped!
How can you become a better communicator?
- Open up! Communicate with as many people as possible on a daily basis, in order to get comfortable with expressing yourself.
- Don’t try to be overly intellectual. Skip the big words and just be you and focus on connecting with your audience.
- Know when to pause to allow the other person to talk. It conveys respect and a willingness to hear the other person’s point of view.
Here a TED talk on 10 ways to have a better conversation.
You have to make plans, but you must also stay aware that you can’t plan everything. At one point or another, you will need to change direction.
- Analyze! Get the numbers and study them. If things are not going as expected it means you need to change something in the plan.
- Stay open-minded. Invite your employees to share ideas with you, so you can locate and fix the mistakes in the plan.
- Work on your temperament to better manage adversity and focus on your capacity to embrace change.
Foster your soft skills to become a better entrepreneur
A study from 2010 found that traditional entrepreneurship education plays an important role in a entrepreneur’s success, but it’s not effective when it simply teaches knowledge on business creation. In order to become a better entrepreneur, you need to develop your soft skills too. But soft skills don’t come in a textbook or a webinar. They don’t even necessarily come from working hard at your job. They depend on your ability to hone in on your innate abilities to connect, communicate and be human. They come from inside you. All you need to do is to unlock them and foster them.
Photo credit: Ready Convenience