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Becoming an Entrepreneur You Get Risk, But No New Skills!

When you set out to start up your own company, early on, investing your time, and, often your savings, you, pretty much, knew the risks. But did you know what it was going to take, in terms of skills, to make your enterprise succeed?  Did you really understand how much you needed to know about marketing, sales, operations, finance and customer support, just to name a few. And how many of those skills did you possess when you started out?

Entrepreneurship is like getting a promotion to an entirely new position for which you had little previous background. As I used to tell many of the aspiring professionals I promoted along the way as an owner or CEO, there was no "pixie dust" that came with their promotion. They were the same person they were yesterday, with the same skills.However, I expected that they would learn and grow into the job.

Same thing for entrepreneurs. There are no "super powers" that come with your start-up; no special abilities. While you may have taken some courses in school somewhere along the way, or you may discover talents you never knew you had, some way, somehow, you have to either learn those that are necessary, or hire people to fill them, either part-time or full-time. Or you won't succeed. It's as simple as that...or as hard as that, depending on how much you embrace that, because you're really good at skill "x," that you won't necessarily be really be good at skills "y" and "z." In fact, you may really suck at them and that could cause a major problem for you and your small business as you roll out.

So, let's assume you've launched, and are now realizing just what you've gotten yourself into, beginning to understand "what you don't know."  Here's what you should do:

Be a "sponge."
Never stop learning. Network with as many other entrepreneurs as possible, constantly picking their brains on knotty issues that you face in your business. Read everything you can about entrepreneurship, and especially about the functions you know least about (e.g., sales and marketing). You won't become an expert, but, at least you'll be able to better understand "what you don't know" will hurt you.

Get a mentor you can relate to...and then listen!
Find a "gray hair."  Make it somebody who's been to the entrepreneurial dance, who's had to make his/her own payroll. Somebody who has some scars (maybe failures to go with some successes). Preferably find someone who understands your market space and can help you with contacts and direction. And by all means, listen to them. You don't have to do everything they recommend, but pay attention to it and discard it only if you either can't make it work, or don't agree with it.  But consider it all.

Get passably proficient at two important skills - finance and sales.
You can't run a business without "knowing the numbers."  You don't have to learn how to be an accountant, but you do have to understand cash flow, cost of goods sold and operating profit.You have to be able to read an income statement and a balance sheet. And you need to understand and manage to the three or four key metrics that drive your business. As for sales, you have to understand that revenue and customers are what makes your business real; and customers don't buy products or services, they buy solutions to problems or needs they have. You just have to learn how to describe your product or service in those terms. Not in "bells and whistles!" As for the rest of the skills necessary, find contractors, wherever possible, especially those recommended by other entrepreneurs, until you can afford to hire that skill full-time.

Make reality your constant partner.
There will, certainly, be enough people who will "blow smoke at you" during the early days of your small business. Don't you be one of them.  Never lie to the person in the mirror, even to make he/she feel better. Don't lose your optimism, but temper it always with the reality of "what could happen' and be ready for it.

The price of entry for the entrepreneur is not just the risk of time and money, but the necessity for a set of skills that you may or may not possess. You either need to learn them or find them, but you can't do without them to succeed.

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!

What skills did you find most difficult to master in your start-up?Include the story in your comments.It will help other entrepreneurs!

If you like this post, by all means, share it with your networks and colleagues.

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1 COMMENT(S)

2013-09-02 06:54:41 by Anthony DiMaio

Outstanding post. A must read and re-read. Thank you Lonnie

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