Nobody said launching a startup would be easy. It is an unfortunate reality that most startups fail. In fact, only 50 percent of startups survive beyond 5 years, and even fewer survive beyond that. If you don’t want to fall into that category, there are certain skills you need to develop.
It’s no secret that there are a million things that could go wrong when you’re starting a new business. But you can increase your chances of success by cultivating a number of must-have skill sets. Today we will be looking at some of the most essential skills for startup founders.
Identifying the most important skills you need to have is the first step in getting your startup off the ground and flying. In this context, the term ‘skill’ refers to both soft and hard skills. These are qualities and technical knowledge that you need in order to produce results.
Hard skills can be acquired in the classroom, or in an online course, or through training, or on the job, etc. Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets. These skills are easily measurable. Examples include marketing skills, IT skills, writing skills, etc.
Soft skills are abilities that are not unique to any job. They are qualities that make a person more effective or productive. They may be a good communicator, a charismatic leader, or a productive worker.
The skills we will talk about here cover both soft and hard skills, because out there in the competitive world of entrepreneurship, you’re going to need all of them.
Managing Cash Flow
Let’s start with one essential skill that will keep your startup from sinking in its first year. The reason many startups fail so quickly is because of poor cash flow management. The early years in particular will feel precarious. Cash flow challenges are common for startups.
While you may be tempted to go big and spend as much money as you can right away, it is wiser to invest just a small amount in the beginning, and then spend more as your business grows. Expert entrepreneurs navigate through cash flow issues with ease by reconciling amounts and making sure they don’t fall behind on payments.
Cash is king. Establish a consistent invoicing schedule and always invoice on time. Good cash flow management brings financial security, which is proportional to your business’s success.
Building an Effective Team
Startup founders need to be effective leaders in order to steer their business towards the right direction. But they also need a solid team of competent individuals who can help the company achieve its goals. Building this team and hiring the right people is a skill in its own right.
One effective way to build an effective team is to choose team members with complementary skills. This means they have skills that supplement the skills of their teammates. Hiring people with the skills you don’t have can benefit your startup significantly.
Start slow by hiring only the most essential team members that your business needs to operate. As it grows, hire more people who can aid you in other areas. Your goal is to have members who are experts in their own respective fields, so that everyone can rely on everyone else and each member has accountability. Your team is the lifeblood of your startup, so you need to develop your team building skills.
You can’t be successful without effective communication skills. Communication problems can even cause your startup’s downfall, so don’t neglect it. Even if you have a goal and an airtight plan to get there, you still need to be able to communicate these plans effectively.
As an entrepreneur, you will be talking to your employees, customers, and prospects on a daily basis. Effective communication also involves listening and taking constructive criticism.
Building a business empire from the ground up involves creating a community—and to do that, you need to be skilled in networking. Startup founders in particular need excellent networking skills if they want their business to survive the difficult first few years. It is the period in which they look for their first clients and business partners.
You need to learn how to expand your network through direct communication, referrals, and using social networking platforms.
As a new startup, your only sales team you have is your small team of employees. You can use their network and encourage them to promote your brand in their own social networks. You can also look for leads online. LinkedIn, for example, is the biggest online platform for professionals, which makes it the best place to find leads.
Startups succeed when the founder is able to sell their vision to a wider audience. It starts with developing that vision, understanding how to get there, knowing their product’s value, and sharing it with the world. A creative founder who can sell their vision will be able to inspire their team. Vision is the vital energy needed to drive the entrepreneur.
Resilience is a skill that will keep you afloat when things go bad. Even if you have the most solid business plan, things can still go wrong. And when that happens, you need to be resilient. Resilience means adapting to unforeseen developments, rising to the challenge in the face of adversity, and brushing off discouragement. You need to pick yourself up again after a setback.
Setbacks are unavoidable in all lines of business, and they are not pleasant. This is why developing a startup is not for the faint of heart.
To build resilience you need to stay calm and focused in the face of unexpected challenges, and not giving up. It means taking a different approach in order to solve a difficult problem. Turn your missteps into strength and you will give your startup a fighting chance to succeed in this highly competitive industry.