Success in the business world is not just about having a great business idea or an even better product to sell. Things like this may guarantee success however, whether the success extends to the long term depends on certain core skills. An entrepreneur may naturally possess some of these skills. With respect to the other essential skills, an entrepreneur is expected to cultivate them in himself. Once cultivated or learnt, the skills may have to be re-learnt or adapted to changing business environments to keep the entrepreneur from lagging behind in the rat race.

What Are The Core Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Establish?

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This article talks about 1) 16 core skills entrepreneurs need to develop to become successful, and 2) how to develop these core skills.


Practical Skills

1. Decision Making

This is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur requires if he wants his business venture to meet with success. Starting with choosing the right business model to enter into, this business owner must be adept at taking quick, smart decisions in areas such as funding, marketing, potential projects and vendor selection. Sometimes the decisions taken may be wrong, but learning from past mistakes is the key to taking better decisions in future.

2. Coming up with ideas and business objectives

It goes without saying that an entrepreneur needs to come up with an ingenuous business idea to start a business. Creativity and inventivity will help him with this as it will to come up with fresh processes, methods, services and products and most importantly, solutions that offer greater value to stakeholders and also satisfy new requirements. In addition, a business is worthless if it has no goals to drive it forward towards progress. Goals are typically realistic and specific and come with a time component which the business or firm will try to hold fast to.

3. Planning

The ability to look down the road and come up with a plan to achieve business targets is a sure recipe for victory as an entrepreneur. This is because a business plan devised right at the start would force the entrepreneur to reflect on and prepare for critical problems that may come up in future. Time set aside for planning each year makes one better equipped to adjust to changing market situations. It must be kept in mind that planning only becomes effective when it is supported by action.

4. Multitasking

For the owner of a startup or small business, frequent distractions are to be expected that can make it difficult to concentrate. Effective multitasking in the face of interruptions can help to boost productivity by ensuring more work gets completed in less time. In addition, it provides a feeling of order and control.

5. Courage to take risks

As Jack Canfield said so correctly, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear”. An entrepreneur must be willing to risk his financial and business security and reputation to take a risk that just might give his business immense rewards. If it doesn’t work out, the entrepreneur still gains from the wisdom of what he learnt from his mistake. To minimize the chances of failure from taking a risk, it is advisable to compare the pros and cons. Calculated risks would ensure a greater chance of success than failure.

6. Self-motivation

Triumphant entrepreneurs motivate themselves to just keep working everyday without wasting time and to keep going even in the face of challenges. They don’t have to depend on anyone to compel them to be productive. The reality is they can’t really afford to give up or slack.

7. Conducting market research

When done correctly, market research can help entrepreneurs or business owners gain information to recognize and define marketing opportunities and issues, create, refine and assess marketing actions, observe how marketing performance is progressing and enhance the comprehension of marketing as a process. Market research should ideally cover at least the following aspects:

  • Industry: main competition, trends, sales figures, growth rates
  • Ideal customers: geographic locations, demographics and typical profile
  • Competition: a look at the pros and cons of their operations

8. Problem solving

Entrepreneurs need to develop the skills to come up with sensible solutions to problems that may crop up in their business. In fact, good entrepreneurs know that problems are to be expected. When these issues do arise, the entrepreneurs may do well to calmly try to comprehend the issues and the reason(s) for their development followed by exploration of possible options, solutions and outcomes. As and when a particular problem is resolved, the entrepreneur can see it as one step forward in the path towards success.

People Skills

9. Leadership

In simple terms, leadership may be defined as an activity involving the leading of an organization or a group of people towards the achievement of a shared goal, or the capability to do this. A leader needs to be able to come up with the right decisions or plan of action which is the best for all who come into the picture – clients, shareholders, employees and so on. He should be able to identify what would affect the company’s bottom line. He should also know when to opt for profit and when to sacrifice it in favor of long-term values.

10. Negotiation

Negotiation is a very powerful skill. Successful negotiation can help an entrepreneur clinch deals that may otherwise slip through his fingers, settle small differences before they turn into costly disputes, and develop and capture maximum value in agreements reached. A good example for the last point is this: When opportunities come up, entrepreneurs should be able to successfully negotiate for higher prices when selling, and for lower prices when buying.

11. Communication

Decision making, planning and negotiation all require communication skills to be effective. So the advice to entrepreneurs would be to never underestimate the importance of communication (verbal and non-verbal). Communication proficiency enables skillful and effective transmission of words to business investors, staff and customers.

12. Listening

Entrepreneurs must master the art of listening. It is essential to be able to correctly listen and comprehend the actual meaning of what people are and aren’t saying. Listening can help entrepreneurs understand their employees better and gain from their input. It also helps entrepreneurs leverage the experience and expertise of the people around.

Technical Skills

13. Inbox management

The email inbox can cause a lot of time wasting if not managed properly. One can only imagine how difficult it would be to locate an important email when the inbox is loaded with messages which haven’t even been properly organized.

14. Fundamentals of web design and development

The appearance and feel of the company’s website is frequently the first impression a potential client gets of the entrepreneur’s business. Even if there are web designers/developers to look after the job of design and development, a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and web design tools/software will help the entrepreneur play an active part in the process. One of the many things he will be able to do is determine which typefaces or colors would present the best image of his company.

15. How to use your own computer

The computer is a fundamental tool for the entrepreneur’s daily business life. Familiarity with one’s desktop or laptop, knowledge of its basic functions, how to make the best use of it and some troubleshooting would be of great benefit.

16. Wireframing

Knowledge of how to wireframe a page is very useful when it comes to technology development. A website wireframe, known by alternative terms such as a screen blueprint or page schematic, is a visual guide that signifies the skeletal structure of a website.


1. Decision Making

Here are a few ways to become a better decision maker:

  • Narrow the options. When there are fewer options, it becomes easier to make a choice or come to a decision.
  • Compare the pros and cons.
  • Welcome mistakes and errors, don’t fear them. If you make a wrong decision once, you gain from having been able to learn from it.
  • Focus on the really important decisions and don’t waste time and attention for decisions that aren’t really critical.

2. Coming up with ideas and business objectives

Entrepreneurs need to think creatively and quickly to come up with new business ideas. Here are smart ways to get the mind to generate ideas.

  • Come out of the comfort zone. For example – try reading a magazine you never thought of reading or try going to work through a different route.
  • Change hats – This is about imagining oneself switching among different hats so as to be able to see things from different perspectives. It causes a change of current thinking patterns for the better.

Goals and objectives provide the road map for the future success of a business. A good way for the entrepreneur to start coming up with business objectives is to refer to the company’s mission statement. Key phrases from this statement can help to delineate key goals which in turn lead to the identification of specific business objectives.

3. Planning

“If you fail to plan, you are by default planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Some methods to effectively plan are:

  • Planning work can ideally be carried out on paper so as not to miss out on any important thought-out ideas.
  • Key words relevant to the project should be put down on paper. These will help to frame the plan.
  • The first 10 minutes of each day may be utilized to review or plan the plan for the day.

It would be wise to foresee problems that may come up in the project owing to material, people or mechanical failures. Deliberate efforts should be made to provide contingency plans and preventive actions in vital high-risk situations.

Stop Procrastinating and Improve Your Planning Skills

4. Multi-tasking

It is possible to maximize the work efficiency from multi-tasking by doing things such as the following:

  • A to-do list can be created with the items on it ranked by priority
  • The bundling of related tasks. This makes it easier to multitask because this makes it easier for the brain to adjust to the different tasks

5. Courage to take risks

Any entrepreneur can learn to be an effective risk-taker if he isn’t already one. Here are some strategies that would help:

  • Begin with small decisions: One can start with taking incremental risks and once confidence is gained for them, bigger risks can be attempted.
  • No exaggeration of worst case scenarios: Worst-case scenarios are frequently less likely to happen than what would happen as a result of inaction. So, it would be smart to give room for a reasonable degree of vulnerability to encourage courage and progress.

6. Self-motivation

Here are some ways an entrepreneurs can power up his motivation:

  • An entrepreneur should think about how his employees’ economic future would suffer if he did not take up his responsibilities seriously.
  • An entrepreneur should think back to the days of how life was working as an employee. This will give him enough motivation to put in his best as an entrepreneur.
  • The visualization of what success would eventually look like is a great trigger for motivation.

7. Conducting market research

The fundamentals of market research can be divided into three steps:

  • Step #1: Determining the official government sources of industry and market data: The government provides immense information and data pertaining to industries, businesses and economic conditions that would be helpful for carrying out market research.
  • Step #2: Looking for additional sources that would help with analysis – This includes trade groups, academic institutions, business magazines or other third parties that may have collected and assessed data relating to research trends. Database and internet searches can help to get valuable information about competitors and customers.
  • Step #3: Determining potential global markets for the company’s goods or services. Links such as the following would help for businesses based in the U.S.: Market Research Guide for Exporters,, Country Market Research

8. Problem-solving

The following tips will help to come up with quick and creative solutions to problems:

  • An entrepreneur should not stop with defining the problem and hurdles to solve the problem. An entrepreneur should also orient in terms of recognizing the existence of a problem, as well as the existence of a possible solution.
  • Improving on solutions to past problems just might offer the solution to a present problem.
  • It is advisable to put down whatever possible solutions come to the mind instead of rejecting them as and when they come just because they appear stupid. Listing more options can actually help in finding something that’s practical.

People Skills

9. Leadership

A good leader can get maximum efficiency from his employees which contributes to efficient running of the business. Here are two ways by which an entrepreneur can become a better leader:

  • Offering motivation: Entrepreneurs should help employees with building up confidence within themselves and discovering their strengths.
  • Being open-minded: Entrepreneurs should welcome new suggestions and ideas from their employees. Good listening, asking questions and the quick execution of good ideas is a good-practice. Self-centeredness is not something that employees would appreciate.

10. Negotiation

Here are some tips to become a better negotiator:

  • Keep the goals high: Business research reveals that people with more aggressive (yet still practical) goals ultimately perform better in negotiations. An example for this would be trying for a 20 percent salary increase versus just a 5 percent one.
  • Be fair: A good negotiator strives to negotiate in such a way that he can make his proposal seem fair to both parties. If the person being negotiated with feels the deal is fair, he won’t feel as though he is being taken advantage of and so, will be more inclined to agree to the proposal.
  • Adopt open postures: Psychologists discovered that open and expansive postures give people a feeling of greater confidence and power during negotiations, interviews or other stressful situations compared to curled-in and closed positions which do just the opposite.

Negotiation Skills: Become A Better Negotiator Part 1 (with Debra Stevens)

11. Communication

One of the ways for an entrepreneur to improve communication is to pay attention to the reactions of people to what he is saying (or has said). If the listener seems to have a puzzled look on his face, the entrepreneur can ask him if what he said made sense, giving him a chance to ask for clarification.

12. Listening

Ways to improve one’s listening skills include:

  • Maintaining the right body language: Eye contact, leaning slightly forward toward the speaker and a nod and smile whenever appropriate will make the speaker feel the listener is really interested and engaged.
  • Don’t interrupt: The entrepreneur shouldn’t try to complete the person’s sentence or even otherwise interrupt whatever be the intention. This may appear rude or prevent the speaker from being fully able to convey his opinions or feelings.
  • Clarify: Asking pertinent questions for clarification shows the speaker that the person he is talking to is sincerely paying attention and requires more information to make things clear.

Technical Skills

13. Inbox management

It is possible to minimize time-waste with the inbox by following tips such as these:

The Right Tools

These tools will come in handy:

  1. Folders: Folders and subfolders can be created for messages that have to be saved for future reference.
  2. Task list: Task-associated emails may be saved in a task list that would alert the entrepreneur when things are due.
  3. Archive feature: This facilitates automatic sending of old emails from the inbox to a different location but still a component of the email system.

The 4 Point Strategy:

  • Take action if the job can be finished off within a few minutes
  • Delete a message that is of no importance
  • Move a message that would require more time to tackle to the task list and fix a suitable deadline for it
  • Delegate action to be taken with respect to replying to the message, whenever appropriate

14. Fundamentals of web design and development

These fundamentals can be learnt by attending classes, searching for lessons online (free and paid), or just reading some current books. Paid resources for learning HTML and CSS include Treehouse and

15. How to use your own computer

Information about this can be got from the internet or by attending classes.

16. Wireframing

This link offers a good introduction A Beginner’s Guide to Wireframing. For more advanced learning, there are many more resources on the web which the entrepreneur can check out. Again other options are to attend classes or to read current books that teach it.

What is a Wireframe?

Though these skills cannot be developed overnight, developing them would be truly worth the effort.

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