Published 02 March 2018 Category: Entrepreneurs, SMEs, Startups, Business

Entrepreneurial Skills For 2018

Most entrepreneurs and motivated professionals know the importance of investing in themselves—building valuable skills and improving their strengths over time. By now, many business owners have made their business-related plans for what they want to accomplish in 2018.

Their new roadmaps include growth targets to achieve, products to launch, new markets to enter, events to participate in and relationships to build. If you have these types of clear targets and milestones built into your plan for the year, that's a great start.

However, it's equally important to set skill-building goals that'll ultimately help you become more successful in your business. Whether it's setting aside time to improve on your weaknesses, or hire a coach to help you push into a new playing field with one of your strength - investing in your skills is never a bad move.

For the entrepreneur, the next logical question, which skills will be changing the game most in 2018?

It's time to choose courses, buy books, get a mentor and start opening your mind, because here are some of the top skills entrepreneurs will need to master in 2018:

Your business can quickly go from good to bad when communication lacks purpose, clarity and impact. In fact, effective communication can revolutionise an idea and breathe new life into a product or brand. Steve Jobs wasn’t only a design and creative genius, he was also a powerful communicator.

The ability to genuinely connect, understand and empathise with your customers is critical to establishing and growing your audience. In the beginning, empathy will help you assess your audience’s challenges, identify their pain points and gauge whether or not they will willingly pay for your solutions. This is critical because a lack of market empathy is the leading factor that causes startups to fail.

Personal Branding
Everything’s moving towards the gig economy where entrepreneurs, freelancers and even career professionals now jump between ideas, startups and employers faster and more frequently than ever before. That means tenure hardly matters, and the new currency is your personal brand - the overarching message about yourself, as gleaned from your online presence, professional reputation, circle of influence and the trust you command from peers, followers, customers, employers and general public.

Strategy Formulation
Gone are the days when you can fly by the seat of your pants without a plan of action for your business. With countless commitments and distractions wanting to monopolise our ever-shortening attention spans, the knack for planning- from simple daily checklists to long-term strategic decision-making - has become indispensable to career and business survival.
In 2018, an entrepreneur must learn the ability to strategise for achieving long-term goals. Start by breaking down big goals into small, incremental wins that lead to major successes over time.

While technically not a hard skill and more of a soft skill, authenticity has become a minimum requisite for providing value and achieving excellence in today's world of business, especially among millennials and across social media channels. An inauthentic label easily becomes a showstopper if you're in business for yourself. Take every opportunity you can to connect with your audience and show that you're genuinely in the game to help.

Financial Management
Knowing how to manage and grow your finances is key to success both in your business and in your personal life. Develop discipline and prudence, especially when it comes to purchases for personal and business purposes. Learn both technical and practical techniques that'll help you increase your income and re-invest in the right strategies to keep your business pushing forward into the future.

Persuasive Writing
While visual content like images, infographics and hi-resolution videos are becoming the staple content medium for most social media channels, written communication still reigns king when it comes to highlighting your thought leadership, crafting compelling copy for sales pages and inspiring people to take action. Without persuasive writing skills, you won’t stand out from other skillful and media savvy professionals. Moreover, you’ll need excellent writing skills for email marketing, blog posts, on-page copy, business proposals and more.

After all is said and done, the one skill that keeps the lights on in your business is sales. A company that can’t sell its products or services is quickly going out of business. Regardless of your craft, even artists, software developers, writers and just about everyone needs selling skills to get by in the business world. If you need funding, you have to sell your idea to investors. If you want to be a successful painter, you must compel people to buy the aesthetics of your craft. Whether you’re a job applicant or hoping to close a new freelance client, you simply have to sell yourself.

Relationship Building
In our highly connected world, lone wolves are the top candidates for extinction. In the new economy where social currency is the standard by which your value is assessed, you need people to make progress. From offering up referrals, to giving endorsements, recommendations, inspiration and moral support, your network of people is your most valuable resource - it is your net worth. So, make friends and build mutually beneficial relationships that will give you the potential for big new opportunities in the future.

Stress Management
Nothing worth pursuing in life is easy. So, expect episodes of disappointment, struggles and stress. The key to staying afloat and winning your game is to manage stress and re-channel it towards a positive outcome. Furthermore, stress management will keep both your business and your health in excellent condition.

Testing and Experimentation
You won't know if you never try. That’s the rule of thumb when it comes to product launches, market research and pivoting to new business models. Conducting regular small experiments and insightful tests can lead to huge new breakthroughs for your business. Testing and validation has not only opened up new revenue streams for me, but also laid the groundwork for new strategic partnerships.

Hiring and Talent Sourcing
Because you can’t do it alone, you’ll eventually need people to help you achieve your goals. For that, you’ll need the ability to identify the right new hires. Not just anyone should make the cut and you shouldn’t settle for less than what your business needs. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a new hire that drains your energy and budget without generating enough value in return. Be selective, smart and methodical when searching for talent to bring into your business.

Failure Management
Stress can be...well, stressful. But failure can be devastating. Major failures can obliterate your motivation and affect your mentality for weeks, months or even years. Just like marriages and Hollywood careers, businesses fail all the time. The secret to success as an entrepreneur is to get back on your feet again, pick up the pieces and apply what you’ve painfully learned so that you’ll get different results the next time.

Sharing and Collaboration
The willingness, commitment, and skill to both regularly and effectively share your work will get you closer to achieving your goals. It’s no accident that information sharing, crowdfunding and open source are key terms describing pillars of the new economy. Android, Wikipedia and Kickstarter are just a few examples of how sharing and collaboration have created industry-changing products and services. As an entrepreneur, sharing your goals, progress and challenges on different channels can lead to surprising solutions, strong relationships and groundbreaking business. 

Design Thinking
You don’t need to be a graphic designer to have design thinking skills. In business, design thinking refers to a framework for assessing problems and creating solutions that squarely and uniquely addresses the problems you're facing. For entrepreneurs, design thinking can lead to ingenious products and significant improvements in many areas of the business like marketing, production, branding and more.

There are many ways to plan for future business success, but investing in yourself by building new skills or improving existing ones, remains one of the smartest decisions you can make as an entrepreneur.