Loading…
Entrepreneurial Skills

The Soft Skills of Entrepreneurship and How to Develop Them

You’ve probably heard of soft skills and wondered what they were! In order to highlight the difference between your hard skills and soft skills, let’s start with your hard skills.

Hard skills are your technical skills, your degrees, your other qualifications your professional experience – everything to do with your profession or what you do.

As your career and your life progress, and when your time at University or when you studied have become the dim and distant memory, it is your soft skills which are going to help you up your career ladder – whether it is as a company employee or a business owner.

Your soft skills are best described as your HUMAN and personality-based skills.

Imagine the scenario of two absolutely equally qualified individuals with exactly the same degree from exactly the same university with exactly the same amount of experience. You have to hire one of them – which one would you choose and what would your decision be based on? The answer is that you will pick the one with the human skills which either most mirror your own skills or you will simply take on the one you think that you will be able to work with based on his or her social skills.

For an entrepreneur, having those extra social human skills, otherwise known as soft skills can be the difference between success and failure.

Whether you like to hear this or not it is a fact that as an entrepreneur – you are a salesman – and if you’ll excuse the cliché, people buy people.

Again, if you and a competitor with exactly the same product and find yourselves in front of a client, you may think that you’re competing on price and a lot of other parameters, but in fact, you are most likely to be persuading through the use of your soft skills.

So how do you acquire these soft skills? Your previous jobs, life experiences, hobbies, responsibilities, etc. have helped you to form soft skills you probably never knew that you had. Soft skills tend to be those informally acquired general skills such as time management, communication, the ability to listen etc. You can be coached soft skills, of course, but most of the soft skills you acquire are a function of time and experience.

Let us start with what I consider the most important soft skill for any budding entrepreneur – the Skill of Communication.

Yes, we can all talk and we know all the words – and yet some people can talk in such a way that everyone listens. How do they do that?

Then there are others who write beautifully. They have learned to communicate through the written word and if you’ve read a novel recently and you could not stop reading, that is because the person who wrote it is an extremely skilled communicator.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to explain your product or service to a potential customer in very simple terms. If your product is a little technical, you can kill a sale by trying to impress your potential customer with too much jargon and technical nonsense. As an entrepreneur, the purpose of your communication may not be to inform, but to persuade.

Far too many times, I’ve actually witnessed individuals who think they are selling when in actual fact all that they are achieving is putting their potential customer to sleep!

One of the most difficult things that all entrepreneurs and business people experience is that moment when they have to ask their potential client for the business because they dread hearing the words ‘ let me think about it’ or ‘let me discuss it with our accounts department’ or ‘send me an email’ or ‘I will get back to you next week’.

Once you become an expert communicator, both in listening, writing as well as speaking, you will realise that all the above phrases mean ‘No thanks.’

If there’s one skill that you absolutely have to develop as an entrepreneur, it is the skill of effective communication.

There is another raft of interpersonal skills which you may wish to think about. For instance, there will be a time when you need to work in a team. Do you have the personal skills to sit back and listen to one of your employees taking the lead?

That naturally leads me to another skill which you will definitely need and that is assertiveness.

Your adaptability is going to be yet another skill because you are going to have to adapt to change and you will also be required to multitask. Your work surroundings will change, the economy will change, the marketplace will change and you have to be able to adapt.

The good news is that you will gradually acquire all the soft skills you need through a natural process of osmosis. In addition, as you progress through life, you can attend various courses if you are aware of what your ‘blind spots’ are.

This website is not only going to be about the technical aspects of running a business. We hope to have a whole series of articles which hopefully will go into far more detail on each soft skill in order to help you to plan your own improvement.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.


JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.

GET USEFUL INSIGHT, ADVICE AND TIPS FOR TAKING THE LEAP TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP.

We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
No thanks, I am not interested
No thanks. Ask me later please

AN UP-TO-DATE BUSINESS PLAN THAT INCLUDES:

One- and three-year projections
A capital budget

AN ANNUAL MARKETING PLAN THAT INCLUDES:

Precise sales and profit goals and timetables
Strategies and tactics for the next three years
Budgets, Forecasts, and Benchmarks
A tentative sales plan
My marketing plan also includes:
The demographics of my target markets
A thoughtful definition of the markets we serve
A definition of the needs/wants our products and services fill
An analysis of the growth potential of our markets
A competitive analysis
A definition of our "Unique Selling Proposition"
Projections for other products or services that could be developed
Timetables for research and development

MONTHLY BUDGETS AND STATEMENTS THAT INCLUDE:

Thorough and up-to-date records
Cash flow budget
Profit and Loss (Income) Statement
Balance sheet
Deviation analysis
Standard cost comparisons
Cash reconciliation

AN INFORMATION BASE THAT ALLOWS ME TO:

Keep track of new developments in the industry
Obtain and study key trade information
Understand what “state of the art” means in this business
Provide customers with the best available information about our products and services
Keep all our employees adequately informed

I’M CERTAIN THAT THE BUSINESS IS PROPERLY CAPITALIZED BECAUSE I:

Base capitalisation on worst-case planning
Have emergency funds (or access to them)
Have discussed this with my banker

I UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF THE BUSINESS BECAUSE I’VE MADE USE OF:

Professional appraisers
Present value methods to evaluate terms
Professional tax planning
Accurate, timely financial information

I STRIVE TO IMPROVE PRODUCTION, QUALITY, AND OPERATIONS BY:

Keeping the equipment in top condition
Maintaining safe conditions
Establishing high standards
Standing behind our products and services
Not tolerating shoddy performance
Working for consistency
Using our company’s “look” as a statement to our markets

PERSONNEL DECISIONS ARE BASED ON HUMANE, CAREFULLY CONSIDERED POLICIES THAT INCLUDE:

Checklists to make sure objectives are clear
Communication, to make sure objectives are understood
Written job descriptions
Regular progress and performance evaluations
Fair hiring practices
Fair wage scales

AS FOR MY OWN PERSONAL/MANAGERIAL SKILLS, I WORK HARD TO:

Develop my problem-solving abilities
Always stay calm
Be objective
Avoid investments in my own ego
Listen to my employees
Plan changes in our course to minimize negative effects
Make decisions promptly
Always get the facts behind problems
Accept my own limitations
Delegate tasks that can be done more efficiently by someone else
Analyze all available options
Develop my reading/study habits
Improve my skills
Consider and evaluate risks
Be positive with customers, employees, associates

ESC to exit without sending the form