Let me be blunt:
The skills you think are important in order to become an entrepreneur, aren’t.
And the skills you don’t consider to be important to be an entrepreneur, are.
Here are 20 of them, if you want to be successful:
If you don’t have it, good luck.
As Wayne Chang, one of our company’s advisors would say, “Entrepreneurship means picking a different bag of problems off the shelf. No matter what business you start, it’s just a different bag of problems.”
You can’t lead effectively without it.
The iron fist doesn’t rule. Or, as my mom would say in simpler terms, “You attract more bees with honey.”
If you aren’t thinking about your startup at 1:00 a.m. on a Friday night while you’re out at a bar and your girlfriend is tugging on your sleeve saying, “Come on, let’s dance!” then your company isn’t going to make it. Sorry, dude.
Every successful entrepreneur I know works HARD to remove distractions from their life so they can think clearly. Many of them meditate too. This is essential.
If you want everything to take 5x longer, cost 5x as much, and be 5x more painful than it needs to be, do it all yourself. Otherwise, a mentor can quickly jump on a call with you and say, “You need to pull that lever,” and you’ll leap forward 9 months in knowledge.
If you can’t make decisions on the fly, you are going to have a ROUGH time.
Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your employees. Be honest with your clients. If you can get those 3 things right, many of the other things will fall into place.
Every single person we’ve ever interviewed for a role at Digital Press has asked the question, “So where do you see the company going? What is your vision for the next few years?” People want to know they’re heading in an exciting direction — not a dead end.
11. Knowledge of cash.
Doesn’t matter what the excuse is — you were bad at math, you aren’t a numbers guy (me neither), etc. Either you need to learn yourself, or you need someone on your leadership team who understands financials and how to read situations based on cash. Cash, and cash flow, is king.
You never stop selling your company and your value. Never.
If you want to be a really successful founder, then be prepared to master the art of wining and dining. It comes with the territory.
A luxury skill, for sure, and definitely not a prerequisite to starting a successful company. But having the talent (or acquiring the talent) for public speaking will only bring good things for your business.
15. Personal branding.
The more “at the forefront” you seem, the more enticing your company appears to be. This is Perception 101.
16. Emotional stability.
If you’ve ever been the anxious type, trust me, entrepreneurship is not for you. Entrepreneurship is, quite literally, the art of maintaining a sense of calm amidst a constant storm.
I am optimistic by nature. My co-founder is a pessimist. We balance each other out. But (and I’m biased) optimism is how you’re able to maintain a sense of positivity, even when things are gloomy.
This is insight coming from some very, very successful mentors of mine: “The worst founders want to prove they know the answers, and then end up messing everything up — usually destroying the company. Better to have no ego, and know when to ask for help.”
Entrepreneurship is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. And I know people say that, but trust me when I say it’s better to optimize for the long term than it is to try to sprint as hard as you can for a few months. Burnout is real. Depression is real. Anxiety is real. Frustration and uncertainty and exhaustion, they’re all real emotions that happen along the journey. So don’t try to pretend they don’t exist, or you’re “different.” Play the long game, and take care of yourself.
If you don’t want to beat me as badly as I want to beat you, you’ll lose.