- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
Getting a new startup company off the ground is a titanic endeavor. But although it’s incredibly difficult, lots of people think that just anyone can do it. This is partly because a “startup” is something of a generic term – you can have a startup company that provides almost anything. Lots of aspiring entrepreneurs, therefore, don’t actually know whether they have the skills to successfully launch a startup company without things crashing to the ground.
Here are the must-have skills you need when launching a startup, regardless of its focus or the industry you want to break into.
LEARN HOW TO MAKE A PERSUASIVE AND ACCURATE BUSINESS PLAN
Every business, whether it’s an independent startup or another branch company connected to your larger empire, needs a business plan. In a nutshell, a business plan is:
- an outline of your business objectives
- a description of the target customer or niche market
- an outline of finances, including how much money you may need to borrow
- target profit projections, usually a couple of years ahead
- employee and supply needs
- anything else relevant to planning and executing the business
A business plan is important both for your own understanding of your future endeavor and in case you need to bring investors on board. There are hardly any investors who won’t demand a well-written business plan before though consider forking over cash for your startup. If you want to impress investors, you need to learn how to write an excellent business plan and persuade them about your vision.
This is actually a skill instead of just a task. You become better at it as time goes on and as you write more business plans. This is why entrepreneurs who run a single successful company are more likely to run another successful company, and so on and so forth. It’s not just because they have an excellent track record (though this certainly helps). It’s because they get better at explaining how and why their business ideas will work.
BE CURIOUS AND WILLING TO TAKE RISKS
This may not sound like a skill at first, but it is. We all have an inherent risk tolerance level that’s related to our personalities. Some of us are riskier and bolder by nature while others are more risk-averse. Regardless of your starting risk tolerance level, need to learn to become more willing to take risks and more curious about the outcomes.
This is a skill you can train over time, largely by forcing yourself to try new things and be riskier in your day-to-day life. As you risk small things, suffer the consequences and live to fight another day, you’ll eventually become bolder and more accepting of the risks inherent in a startup company.
You won’t be able to successfully start a company without having a willingness to take risks. Develop this and it’ll be easier to both:
- write a bold and persuasive business plan
- commit to the startup even if things are rocky at the beginning – and they likely will be!
Of course, they key is that you want to be risky within reason. Acceptable riskiness is a skill since naturally risky people tend to lean the other way from the timid – they’re too risky and crash and burn before they really win.
HONE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Learning to communicate well is a crucial skill when you’re launching a startup. Chances are, you’re either the CEO or another key part of the company’s workforce, and probably in a leadership position. This necessitates that you communicate both with customers or investors and with subordinate employees.
The best leaders are more often than not excellent communicators instead of any other aspect. As a result, you should double down on learning how to communicate effectively, clearly, and charismatically as early as you can.
There are tons of self-help books you can look at to become better at communicating. Or you can just watch talks from some of the best business communicators who have ever lived. Check out a Steve Jobs talk on YouTube and take notes: it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll walk away with some actionable information you can use to emulate his speaking style.
Plus, learning to communicate more effectively will make it easier for you to write persuasive business plans and get investors on board without a lot of successful business history under your belt. In other words, this is possibly the most important skill to learn if you’re a new entrepreneur.
LEARN TO MANAGE CASH FLOW/ECONOMICS
A new startup’s leadership has to be skilled in economics in general cash flow management. You should work on the skills if you don’t already have a solid understanding of economics already – in fact, go back to school and get these skills before even thinking about building a startup of your own.
Back? Excellent. You’ll need to understand economics so you can capably run your business, regardless of your industry. But knowing economics also involves understanding the ins and outs of your unique niche. No business runs exactly the same.
Figuring out how cash flow will work with your startup is integral both for your business plan and for your day-to-day operations. For instance, you need to know how much money you can spend on salaries after considering the projected cash flow your business will bring in. This dictates when you can hire new workers, when you can expand, etc.
TRAIN YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Ultimately, leadership skills in general are crucial if you want to launch a new startup. Leadership skills are something of a collection of other individual skills like:
- economic understanding
- decision making
The good news is that you’ll hone your leadership skills naturally as you run the startup and as you take the necessary steps to get all your business’ ducks in a row. However, it never hurts to get some business leadership experience before embarking on your startup journey.
For example, you can try to pursue a managerial or supervisor position at your current company before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. Such a move will give you hands-on experience and show you what it’s like to handle employees, customers, and even some aspects of your organization’s budget.
All of these are valuable skills that can help you become a more effective leader when you start your own company.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell