“The grass is always greener on the other side”- you must have came across this proverb once in your life, but hardly have you thought about associating it with your own self. This is particularly true when one is a 9-5 corporate slave and feels more entitled to obeying the given orders and commands. This coupled with no sense of liberty, freedom and space to abide by one’s creative sight and innovative streak definitely makes the grass look greener. In these conditions being your own boss, initiating a start up and being a successful entrepreneur definitely seems like a much more impressive, appropriate and comfortable option. But the question remains: “do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and if not then can you learn how to be one?”
What is important to be understood is that a person who attends a dedicated school and training regarding being an entrepreneur will not necessarily be the only one successful. Rather anyone can be a successful entrepreneur and make a new startup or venture into something big. I agree that education is important and designated knowledge is always a plus. But if you are not a trained entrepreneur but still have the fire to start you own venture then don’t let the lack of a degree hold you back. All you need to do is mark the skills you need to develop and master in order to succeed as an entrepreneur. This idea of educating oneself through the available resources in the absence of proper mentors and education is known as self-learning. (Segal & Schoenfeld & Borgia, 2007)
There are no second thoughts and questions about what great social and economic impact is made by education. The concept of learning, evolving and constantly growing through the act of educating oneself is remarkable. The world of entrepreneurship is no different. Being stagnant and being stationary is the absolute end of everything. To become a self made entrepreneur you need to keep moving, you need to stay in line with what new is happening in the world and keep your ideology and thinking dimensions in line with where the world is progressing.
Self learning is the top most entrepreneurial skill you can acquire and polish. You work on yourself before you work on your venture. This form of learning is appreciated because it makes you learn through mistakes (providing firsthand experience), it is a stress and pressure free learning method, it makes you learn a lot more such as time and stress management and setting your goals and most importantly it is led by curiosity. Self learning is basically self assessment.
The basic idea is to keep your-self updated, informed and educated without the proper structure of mentors and institutions. You learn through experiences, through awareness, through exposure, through failure and through success. You stay at par and updated about your field and the world in general. This practice gives you the edge to market your startup brilliantly and venture into the world of competition fully equipped and prepared. (Michelacci, 2003)
When you decide to be an entrepreneur or wish to be one, there are some skills and characteristics that you need to develop and master. Additionally, if you are aiming to be a self taught entrepreneur then acquiring, finding and polishing these 5 skills should be on the top of your to-do list.
- Business Concept and Environmental Scanning: Some people regard having a viable business concept as the basic definition of entrepreneurship but the key entrepreneurial skill is being able to scan the environment. Being able to recognize the opportunities available in the market is the defining skill for an entrepreneur. The key entrepreneurial skill is to have an eye of what is required in the market, what will the market accept and buy and what are the red hot points where you can strike the hammer.
- Passion and Curiosity: For a trained entrepreneur or someone trying their luck at self-learning; passion is one such trait that is not only critical and crucial for being a successful entrepreneur but also is one such trait that cannot be taught. No one can teach you to be passionate about what you are doing. It has to come from within and how passionate you are about your dream. Your idea and mission is a direct reflection of how clear and focused you are towards your end goal.
As I said earlier, the grass is always greener on the other side so if you jump into the idea of being an entrepreneur just because you fancy being your own boss and setting your timings then sorry to say you are in it for all the wrong reasons. You need to be crystal clear about what is it that you want to achieve and why do you want to achieve it? Passion is the only ingredient that will get you through the hardships of entering in the world of entrepreneurship.
- Risk Management: Whenever you invest your time, finances, efforts and vision into a new venture and start up- if anything you are taking a risk. As much convinced as you might be regarding an idea, the chances of it working out or you falling flat on your face are always a split. This does not mean that the idea of failing should stop you from even trying but what is important is for you to perfectly and clearly know about what is it that you are going to do in case your plan back fires. Because if this is not the case, you might be never able to trust in your dreams again (and your dream might not be the safest available option out there but once you take a leap of faith make sure you have a plan B to tackle the hot waters).
- Communication Skills: Regardless of the fact that you will be entering the world of entrepreneurship alone or you will be part of a team, if you do not know how to communicate effectively and efficiently then you can never make it big. As brutal as I may sound, this is nothing but the truth. You need to know how to communicate; if you are the leader, you need to communicate with the client, your peers, subordinates and partners. Even if you part of the team, communication is vital.
Ineffective communication leads to miss-communications, gaps and a blurry objective. Clarity and focus are the basic steps of the ladder leading to success. As an entrepreneur, if you fail to communicate your ideology with the client, your vision with your team and your solution with your labor; no matter how brilliant you are in the conception and design phase, you will never be able to succeed. So make sure you know how to get your point and agenda effectively and efficiently across the table.
- Learn to be smart: Entrepreneurship is more smart work than hard work. You can work round the clock, like a maniac but of you are not being smart about your work and your strategy than you quite frankly wasting your time. You need to learn and polish the skill of adopting a smart approach. You need to be able to prepare a strategy and a smart plan. You need to motor through your work in a way that strategizes every phase of your work from forming a strong network to developing resilience, from adopting strategic thinking to practicing an efficient approach, from taking care of the finances and sales to perfect branding- everything should be smart, planned and time and cost effective.
Lastly, as someone who wishes to be an entrepreneur or wishes to transform from an ordinary entrepreneur to a great entrepreneur, you need to be fully prepared to handle and manage failures. Failure management is the make or break point for everyone. If you are not prepared to stand back up after you have been knocked out pretty bad, then how can you sustain in a place full of blows wanting to knock you down at every opportunity. (Balkrishna & Narkhede & Rupendra S & ehete & Rakesh &Raut & Subhash & Mahajan, 2014)
You need to learn to take each small set back and every failure along the way as a source of learning and self-assessment. All of the above mentioned entrepreneurial skills help in avoiding and surviving failure. It is not always easy to accept failure but you need to focus beyond the defeat. In case you don’t succeed, you need to recognize the failure, accept it and own it. Because this is the only way you can turn failure into an opportunity.
In order to become a self made entrepreneur, a successful one for that matter and a self taught one; you need to be in a constant state of learning and evolution. You need to constantly evolve, adjust and accommodate. Learn through your experience, learn through your mistakes. Make sure you acquire the required technical skills, managerial skills, entrepreneurial skills and personal maturity skills. If you don’t succeed in the start, get back up, perform a self assessment, learn and strike back hard and strike back strong. Success is just a few steps away. DON’T GIVE UP!
- Balkrishna E. Narkhede, Rupendra S. Nehete, Rakesh D. Raut, Subhash K. Mahajan. (2014) Impact of entrepreneurial skills on the firm’s performance: evidence from manufacturing SMEs in India. International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management 8:2, 216-236.
- Michelacci. C (2003), Low Returns in R&D due to the Lack of Entrepreneurial Skills, The Economic Journal, Volume 113, Issue 484, January 2003, Pages 207–225, https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0297.00095
- Segal, G., Schoenfeld, J. & Borgia, D. (2007). Which Clasroom-Related Activities Enhance Students Entrepreneurial Interests and Goals? A Social Cognitive Career Theory Perspective. Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal, 13, 2, (p.p. 79-98).