The Most Valuable Entrepreneurial Skills that No One Will Teach You

5 Soft Skills Every Entrepreneur Should Master

Photo by sean Kong on Unsplash

You likely never got a grade in “emotional intelligence” or “problem-solving” in school (although maybe you should have).

That’s because so-called “soft skills” are hard to quantify, and in a system where standardized testing is the norm, there isn’t much focus on how to build a successful mindset.

Now, don’t get me wrong. A strong knowledge base of hard skills in your chosen field (like coding for the Silicon Valley-types or repair skills for the house flippers), is also important. However, they don’t mean shit if you don’t have the right soft skill set to back them up.

That’s why we need to start looking beyond the obvious and focusing on the less tangible tools that an entrepreneur should have on their proverbial belt. Otherwise we’re setting young entrepreneurs up for failure.

5 Essential Soft Skills You Need to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

1. Self-Awareness

Also known as “emotional intelligence,” self-awareness is the ability to know oneself — your strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and intuitions.

Now, it’s easy to dismiss self-awareness as egotistical and self-absorbed, but that’s bullshit.

To really be self-aware, you have to get rid of your ego. You have to acknowledge the parts of yourself that you’d rather hide away.

Maybe you have shitty organizational skills. Instead of making excuses (not enough time, don’t have the money to hire an assistant, etc.), a self-aware person will acknowledge their weakness and create a strategy that works for them to fix the problem. Someone without this skill will just invent reasons for their shortcomings and avoid self-improvement until they inevitably fail.

An entrepreneur can’t afford to protect their ego at the cost of their business.

2. Intuitive Business Savvy

An entrepreneur needs the ability to take an objective view of their business. They can’t become too emotionally attached. That’s how entrepreneurs end up in debt up to their eyes.

Don’t get me wrong, passion is great, but you can’t become blinded by it. You have to know when to let go and live to fight another day.

Some people just naturally “get it.” They know when hold ’em and when to fold ’em. That’s what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur — an understanding of the process paired with the courage and confidence to do what needs to be done.

3. Ability to Self-Motivate

Having intrinsic motivation — the feeling that drives you to push yourself regardless of external rewards — is absolutely critical for an entrepreneur.

If you’re motivated by fancy cars and vacation homes, entrepreneurship might not be the best fit for you. Sure, those things are nice, but what happens when your first business fails miserably? Will you throw in the towel because you didn’t strike it rich?

To a true entrepreneur, hard work is it’s own reward. If you don’t share that view, turn back now.

4. Tenacity

Entrepreneurs share the recognition that failure is a part of success, and that the two are inextricably linked. Most of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs had dozens of failures under their belt before they hit upon success. What ultimately made them successful, however, is the tenacity to pivot when required and the self-awareness to know how to improve in the future.

Do you give up when you hit a roadblock? Do you avoid taking risks because you’re afraid of failure? If so, you’re not cut out for the life of an entrepreneur.

5. Ability to Inspire

Whether you’re networking with potential clients or presenting to investors, you need to be able to convey your vision in a way that makes people want to work with you. You shouldn’t have to beg anyone to give you a chance. They should be inspired and compelled to help make your vision a reality.

Let me tell you, for most people, that’s not an easy feat! It takes a certain mix of empathy, persuasiveness, and authenticity.

Until we start treating these soft skills as the valuable assets that they are, we’ll continue to see otherwise smart, driven entrepreneurs fall flat on their faces.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Give me your take on: