Becoming your own boss and an entrepreneur is the new coveted career choice of the 21st century. People are fed up with working jobs that leave them underpaid and unfulfilled.
Although some entrepreneurs say they were born to build a company, it’s never been easier for anyone to learn entrepreneur skills that can propel them into building a successful business.
Here is a list of 12 effective ways to build entrepreneurial skills that matter:
1. Take a different path.
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“Creativity is the root of entrepreneurship.” -- Karndee Leopairote, Thammasat University.
Creativity is the ability to see things differently and to provide solutions where there are gaps. To build your creativity skills, intentionally try something new. Do something that others won’t do. Read unusual books. Watch a movie in a different language. Travel to an unexpected spot. Talk to people that are out of your circle of comfort.
"The Big Short" is a movie that depicts how several opportunist entrepreneurs and investors managed to profit from the 2008 financial crisis by going against popular opinion.
2. Start a business.
“You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” -- Richard Branson.
There is nothing like real-world experience. Whether you run a business on the side or full-time, you get the opportunity to grow your skills such as business planning, negotiation, sales and marketing.
I started my first business when I was 16 years old, and learned more through making mistakes than I could through reading any business book. My mobile car detailing business was successful only because I was able to learn and make changes quickly.
3. Stick with challenges.
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” -- Albert Einstein.
Every successful entrepreneur has learned to develop their perseverance and tenacity muscles. The life of an entrepreneur is never smooth sailing, and it takes guts to keep going when people doubt your abilities.
To build perseverance, create a goal or challenge that is meaningful and don’t give yourself the to quit. Alternatively, give yourself a deadline to aim towards. For example, if you want to create a better blog, make a commitment to write 1,000 words every day for a year.
4. Delay gratification.
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, Solar City and SpaceX set himself a challenge to live on only $1 a day to see if he had what it took to lead life as an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs have to get used to countless failures and almost zero rewards until they finally hit the jackpot. To train yourself to be able to delay gratification, start small. Say "no" to the extra donut. Keep your old car instead of going into debt to buy a new one. Wake up at 5 a.m. on the weekends to work on your business idea instead of staying in bed.
5. Manage your own finances.
Understanding basic finance is essential in running your own company. You don’t have to be an accountant, but you should at least be able to understand the basics around cash flow, assets, and profit and loss.
Start by learning how to do your own taxes and manage your own budget and investments.
6. Volunteer to lead.
The ability to lead a team and stay organized is important when you become an entrepreneur. You can start by looking for volunteer and leadership opportunities around you. Volunteer to lead a Meetup group, start a fundraising project for your favorite non-profit organization or get involved with your local community board. Alternatively, coach a local children’s sports team or just plan your mother’s birthday party.
By getting involved in bigger roles, even if unpaid, you get to practice your time management, organization, leadership and teamwork skills.
7. Practice communication skills.
The best entrepreneurs have learned how to communicate their passion and dreams in an engaging way, both online and offline. To learn how to speak publicly, join a Toastmasters group, offer to speak at workplace parties, or even emcee at your friend’s wedding.
To improve your online communication skills, stay active on your social media accounts, blog, set up an online Facebook group or create a newsletter on your favorite hobby or topic.
The more often you put yourself out there, the faster your communication skills will grow.
8. Learn from a mentor.
The value of a mentor is priceless when it comes to building your entrepreneurial skills. Rather than make all the mistakes yourself, why not learn from someone else who has already made them?
Mentors are not only great sounding boards for your ideas but they also can be fantastic cheerleaders when the going gets tough. If you are lucky, you may find a mentor wiling to train you for free because they believe in you and want to give back. Some mentors will be happy to teach you in exchange for you helping them out in their own business. Others offer a paid service.
If you are young enough or at the start of your career, try to apply for internships as those are great opportunities to wet your feet in the real business world.
9. Work in sales.
“To me, job titles don’t matter. Everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business.” -- Harvey Mackay.
In every business, sales play a vital role in the survival, sustainability and success of a business. You can have the best product in the world but if you don’t know how to sell it, it is worthless.
One of the easiest ways to learn how to sell is to get a sales role. It doesn’t matter if you are selling Tupperware at parties or selling complicated technology solutions, you will pick up valuable skills, such as learning how to ask questions of your prospect and researching your target market.
10. Get involved with other entrepreneurs.
Whether it’s attending entrepreneurial events, conferences, seminars or meetups; spending time with other entrepreneurs will help you grow in your own entrepreneurial skills.
If you have the time and guts, you can compete in an entrepreneur competition like Shark Tank where any gaps in your entrepreneurial skills will be revealed very quickly. However such a demanding experience will also multiply your learning speed.
11. Help others with their businesses.
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” -- Zig Ziglar.
Being an entrepreneur is about solving problems with the resources that you have. The more you help others solve problems with their own businesses, the more your own skills will grow.
For example, you can create an accountability group for entrepreneurs where you each help each other out. In this way, you learn and grow together.
12. Keep learning.
“I am still learning.” -- Michaelangelo.
Keep your own learning and personal development active. There are so many courses online, both free and paid, that teach a variety of entrepreneurial skills such as Skill Incubator, Udemy and Udacity.
With such easy access to knowledge and resources, there really is no excuse that you can’t build skills to succeed as an entrepreneur.