Skills I Underestimated In The First Year Of My Startup

Knowing well of the risks and challenges that involves having a start-up, got me excited to face risks head on and overcome challenges. I’m sure every would-be entrepreneur and many actual entrepreneurs have this one question: “Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?” Of course, there are plenty of ideas on the web with tips and tricks, and even motivational quotes to get you going. The passion and the drive are there, so it must be alright. However, do you have the skills?

“Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill.” — Tony Buzan

During the first year at my own start-up, together with three other co-founders, I knew the importance of having different skills within a team. As an individual, I strived for personal and professional excellence by acquiring new skills and bringing out my inner skills. Along the way, there are essential skills I completely underestimated how hard they are to learn.

Here are three skills I underestimated in the first year of my start-up.


1. Storytelling

I came to realise that storytelling is the foundations of how we interact with each other, whether it’s in our personal lives, businesses or social circles. A well-presented story is effective in delivering its message and sticks to the back of the mind of many to be remembered. Reaching listeners, holding their interests and crossing all age barriers is the impact of an effective storytelling.

Knowing and applying storytelling will not only strengthen your stories, but also develop the desired interest in the audience. Often, we overcomplicate stories with too much information and it takes ages to get to the point. While a true story aims at keeping the storyline simple and taking the story as close as possible to the audience, with an emotional appeal.

It sounds easy, but I can tell you it’s not, because the contact between the storyteller and the story listener is what makes a story come to life. This will require you to practice and think about what your story is about, to which audience, and most importantly with what emotional appeal. If there is one thing I learned and must live by, it’s that people will forget what I did and what I do, but people will never forget how I made them feel.

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” — Robert McKee

So, share with me your story.


2. Building Business Relationships

When you plan on starting a business, the relationship you build around your business will impact for 80% of your total success. It doesn’t matter how great your idea is, how much talent there is in your team, or how much funding you have — if you don’t have solid, functioning business relationships, you will fight unnecessary battles to survive. For this reason, building business relationship should be at the top of your priority list.

In my case, I have always been fond of building relationships, simply because meeting new people such as supplier, customers, or partners interest me. However, the hard part isn’t just to build a relationship, it’s to maintain the relationship for the long term — helping each other correspondingly and sincerely care about the well-being and success of each other.

Here is a twist: Occasionally, I had to work with someone I don’t like, or someone I simply can’t relate to. But, for the sake of the business, it’s essential I maintained a professional relationship with them. Sometimes, it’s the unexpected people who will really add value to my network. So, my message is to build strong business relationships with people in all aspects of your life.

“If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business.” — Scott Stratten

3. Team Management

One would think that managing a team shouldn’t be that difficult, yet there are many challenges. As I was the one who managed the team, I know how hard it can be. Let me recall some of the challenges I had to face:

  • Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone is willing to act or put in the effort to make the great idea a reality. It’s easier for some people to stand on the sidelines and criticise.
  • Trust is difficult to earn, and even tougher to maintain.
  • Non-performance of a team member leading to more conflict within the team.

However, a team can achieve amazing results if the team members are in sync with one another. This requires the team manager to make time to lead the other members by example. Invest even more time to get to know the team — their personal stories, passions, and their strengths and weaknesses. Delegate the team and be decisive.

More importantly, enjoy it. Team management is often challenging but frequently rewarding. Heading up a team that’s working well and delivering results is a great feeling, so go do it!

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 293,189+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.