I’m trying to go back to the time when I actually made the decision to dive in and start a business. There was no precise moment when it happened, and I am pretty sure it was a process and my environment which influenced my thinking at that point.
Given that I was enrolled in a Fashion Entrepreneurship course at the time, I was naturally compelled to start-up as soon as I completed it.
While the program itself was geared towards starting and running a fashion boutique, something else caught my fancy – Fashion Marketing. (and that’s the beauty of the fashion industry, which I’ve outline in my earlier post).
While searching for jobs in the fashion industry, one day it struck me that all the owners of these job postings would really benefit from a one-stop agency geared at filling in their talent/resource gaps with an end-to-end solution.
A quick market research showed that there was no digital marketing agency in the country focusing exclusively on the fashion niche, and those trying to do it for fashion businesses were pitiful. And since that point, it was an arduous phase of research and validating my idea.
I was so passionate about solving this problem, I didn’t even realize I was already on my way to starting a business. So did it just happen (like Love? 😉 ) I would like to think so!
The real starting point of entrepreneurship is passion and knowledge. But to really get the ball rolling, you will find that the below 4 skills come in handy on the journey.
This is a very important skill to have when you are starting and running your own business. Oft ignored, this is one virtue in you that will help you do the mundane tasks of your business, wait for new clients, deal with existing ones, manage your employee’s eccentricities and get you through the phase when things are not working out.
Patience is more about staying calm in face of discomfort or adversity. More often than not, tides turn and change happens. So lucky are those who have been patient.
Patience also brings with it optimism and determination, which I cannot stress on enough. No matter the size of business you are running, 1 client or 100 employees, as the founder and task manager, you lead by being patient and getting things in control.
I am impatient myself a lot of times, but I then realize patience bears its fruits. The best way to practice Patience is to actually bring it on when faced with problems even in your daily life. Wait it out as you see the problems pass by.
Angry spouse? Patience.
Customer giving you a hard time? Patience.
Laptop is hung? Patience.
Ideas not coming? Patience.
A combination of empathy, diplomacy, a dash of carefree attitude, and thinking on your toes all the time helps bring out the patience you need to keep your business up and running like a charm.
Never did I think entrepreneurship would also be about Sales. And recruiting. And training. Or negotiating (which I thought was limited to the haggling done at the beach markets of Goa!).
Communication, which I found to be such an important skill, is necessary to the point where it feels like business is all about communication.
All the time as an entrepreneur you will find yourself pitching your idea to friends or investors, calling up prospects for a business proposal, trying to negotiate the service charges for the month, giving feedback to your employees on their work, training a new recruit, emailing a ton of other cold leads to get some business – in all these scenarios you feel like you didn’t get a chance to shut your mouth or the phone or laptop down.
As a founder, you will be wearing many hats, and you will be calling the shots or initiating tasks and each of that requires a good deal of communicating.
A good communicator is naturally born of a good reader. If you are reading continuously, updating yourself with the latest knowledge, and learn what to say when by observing others in the space, you will nail it when your turn comes.
Good communication is an art as much as it is a skill, and successful entrepreneurs have this in abundance. Interacting with them is a good chance you will pick up the knack.
The traditional route is to read as many blogs as you can on your business area and then the additional areas mentioned above, and you are well on your way to mastering this skill.
Here’s more on improving your communication skills.
Which job in the world doesn’t require this? There’s always so much to do and so little time to do it. But as an entrepreneur, managing your time is a very strong factor in success. When you bootstrap, you will find that you have to do many things at once.
You will need to know how to prioritize one task over the other. Maybe you’re caught for time between servicing your clients and marketing your own business.
As a start-up, you don’t yet have all the money in the world to exchange it for time. No extra employees or software that you can afford at this point. By carefully planning your days and sticking to it, most of the time you will find your business operations will turn out smoother.
And Time management also applies to a reverse scenario. You have very few clients, a couple employees taking care of it and all the time in the world. How do you manage this extra time? That’s when it becomes challenging.
Again you will need to prioritize and pick up the next best thing to do – business development, training(yourself or others), recruiting, writing marketing collateral etc.
It is a myth that creativity is talent and not a skill. Creativity can be learned and an entrepreneur needs a good dose of it.
Creativity is about coming up with original and innovative ideas. You will be using your creative prowess to come up with the next marketing campaign for your business.
Perhaps the source of income from the current business isn’t sufficient and you need to come up with a new service. Where could you hire the best talent and how would you attract them? What happens when your Plan B fails at acquiring new clients and so does Plan C and Plan D? Or maybe you are in the creative business itself!
From creativity comes your strategic and tactical thinking capabilities which are so characteristic of an entrepreneur. You wouldn’t be an entrepreneur in the first place if you didn’t have a unique solution to a problem, or the idea for an industry-disruptive consumer product.
The very fact that you could come up with a creative answer to someone’s problem in way of a service or product, shows you are automatically creative. But one needs to be aware, exercising creativity wouldn’t stop there.
Creativity is not meant only for artists and designers. It is for the everyday problem solvers as well.
Solving puzzles, learning to play a musical instrument, having a dance regime, volunteering at a disabled school, travelling, reading non-fictional books of great authors- all of this is an abundant source to pick up creativity from.
You see, I’m talking about nourishing your mind with experiences. The more experiences you have of life, the more ideas you will have on the way to do things. The more designs and patterns you can imbibe into your sub-conscious, the better your output will be when faced with a challenge.
I like to keep a tab on design, colour and photography most of the times, as that’s what pours out the creativity in me. And of course, solving mental math sometimes helps!
The best way to become an entrepreneur is to hang out with people already enterprising! You will learn from them and inspiration is the starting place for this wonderful journey.
With skills like these, and the many others that are so imperative to stick it out, you will be a natural entrepreneur and cause impact.
Start something of your own now! It gives you immense satisfaction and determination in Life and you see the best version of you coming out through the storm and sunny days.