Improve Your Entrepreneurial Skills

Entrepreneurs have certain unique qualities of vision, creativity, and risk taking that are well suited to starting a business venture, but often have no patience with the seemingly monotonous, day-to-day grind of operating a business. The passion and enthusiasm in starting something new dissipates with time, and is replaced with a whole range of concerns that involve seemingly boring financial controls, organizational structures, sales and marketing strategies, and employee problems and issues. This requires a major adjustment, which is not always in line with the entrepreneur’s temperament and desire for ever new challenges.

While they can hire others to fill in the gaps in their experience and knowledge, they should not become totally dependent. The peripatetic movement from one venture to another, without ensuring the survivability of each, quickly stretches financial resources. Turning into an effective manager can be just as exciting as starting a new business. Contributing to the strategies that affect growth in the company’s market share, revenues, and profits can be personally stimulating.

There are certain key behavior patterns that an entrepreneur must master right from the start, which will serve them well in any new undertaking. Some are based on common sense, others require a deeper knowledge of good business practices, which can be acquired online (MOOCs) or in formal educational centers. It is all about constantly improving their business related game, so that every new venture will be built on a stronger foundation. It is useful to play by some well established principles.

Business is not poker You certainly don’t want to go all in on a venture as you would in Texas Holdem. This is particularly dangerous when the gambled stakes do not only belong to you but are shared with other family members or friends. No business is completely safe and certain, as the low survivability rate of small business attests to. The impulse to put everything on the line is never a good approach. Use your entrepreneurial skills to raise money from third parties, so that both successes and failures will be shared. Conveying passion and enthusiasm for a business is usually an intrinsic part of the entrepreneur’s makeup and can be put to good use in raising seed money or expansion funding.

Protect your intellectual property (IP) Many businesses are started with breakthrough technology developed by the founder. The cost of seeking patent protection, and trademarks may be high for a start-up. But then procrastination sets in until it is too late. Unprotected IP is quickly lapped up in today’s global inter- connectivity, and internet hacking. Being first in the market place certainly helps but without protection the competition will quickly copy and adjust their own products to keep you from realizing the fruits of your innovations. Include IP protection as a prime item in the initial financing.

Raise your game Just as in  sports, you tend to raise your game by playing with superior players. They have mastered certain techniques and strategies that you can observe and copy. To find these advanced players, it is beneficial to join business clubs and associations where you can meet celebrity business people. Search for them in the community, or participate in presentations by guest business speakers. This is a proven source of inspiration and new knowledge that can then be applied in your own business. The internet is another repository of useful business articles and blogs presented by experienced and battle-tested writers.

Keep track of your successes Repeating what has proven to be successful in one business context is often transferable to another. It is good practice to review and record in detail why, and how success occurred in a given situation. Breaking this down into a step-by-step process is like building an algorithm, which can then be applied somewhere else. It may be necessary to tweak the formula slightly but it provides a useful head start.

Check in with your customers Never shut yourself off from having some direct contact with your customers. Leaving it exclusively to the sales and marketing people may leave you out of the loop on customer issues and problems. This is one area of the business where barriers to communication should be removed, and where the entrepreneur must always stay informed. Nobody in the organization has the same keen interest in the success of the business, which starts with customer satisfaction.

Question all fixed costs Many of the greatest companies were started in basements and garages by intrepid individuals with ground breaking ideas. But when these ideas take on wings and become marketed, the initial low fixed costs can quickly escalate and eat up profits. Every overhead item must be carefully scrutinized and justified through a cost/benefit evaluation process. This holds true for all businesses. It is particularly important for any new business venture because of its financial fragility. Salaries are one of the biggest cost items.