By: Ken Dunn March 03, 2016
History is filled with thousands of examples of entrepreneurs who changed the world without any formal education. In recent years, most of us knew about Steve Jobs’ exit from the Ivy League to pursue his dreams. But I am not about to rest on one side of the debate or the other. The fact is that a formal education will bring you up-to-speed on the latest develops, and history, of your chosen field. In addition, your dedication to post-secondary education will help you to create business networks that it will take decades to re-create without the college / university environment. Regardless of your personal opinion of formal education’s role in business success and entrepreneurial endeavors, here are three skills that you will not learn in school but are crucially important to your success as an entrepreneur / founder.
Entrepreneur are only as successful as their ability to explain their vision. Communicating with other people is likely the most important skill of any entrepreneur. Knowing when to communicate — and when not to — is the difference between the business have’s and have-nots. Your communication skills will be needed in every aspect of your job. You will have to inspire your employees with your words, build confidence with your investors and explain your actions to your shareholders.
Now, make sure that you are not committing the worst sin of communicating. I have consulted for CEO’s in the past who fancied themselves as great communicators, however, what they really did was run over people and talk everyone around them into submission. I have seen executives who waste hours of time over-talking in meetings. They feel like they have to be heard and over-explain everything. They do not let others get heard and, as a result, end up creating a suppressive environment, where other people’s thoughts never get heard. Do yourself a favor and find a good mentor or executive coach to help you do a personal check and work on increasing your communication skills. You can never be a good enough communicator.
As an entrepreneur, you are going to be expecting to know everything, about every part, of your endeavor. In the early days, you will be the “chief cook and bottle washer.” As your enterprise grows, so to will your personal tasks. In the early days, you will have to run the company and take care of shipping / receiving. As your business grows, your tasks will change, and you will still have a multitude of them. If you are lucky enough to get into the big leagues, you will eventually get to manage your business and your shareholders at the same time.
Regardless of the stage, you will need to be involved in many different things at the same time. You have no choice — so get good at it! I have never met a successful big-league founder or CEO who didn’t have a great handle on time management and keeping important things — like family and health — in perspective. Again, if you are struggling in this area, hire a coach or consultant to help you.
- Attention to detail
We’ve all heard the old saying — “The devil is in the details.” I personally believe it would be better to say, “Your ultimate success is in the details.” Managing details is likely the most important skill of any successful business person. People who are weak in this area will tend to ignore the details. They will categorize them as “little things.” But if you let enough “little things” build up, they will turn into a “big thing.” Big things kill businesses! As the primary of your own business, you need to become an expert (and example to others) of how to deal with the details.
Examples of important details are reviewing, and understanding, your daily financial reports, emailing your key people with little “thank-yous” for a job well done, managing email in general and about 1000 more things. If you are struggling in any of these areas, you already know it. Let this little piece be your slap in the face. Your company, and employees, are depending on you to make the venture successful. The fastest way to improve these skills is to hire one of the many awesome management consultants or coaches that are available.