5 essential skills for launching a successful startup

Posted by Vartika Kashyap on 10 Jun, 2019
View comments Marketing
What are the key skills, attributes and characteristics you need to develop to succeed with your startup?


Launching a startup isn’t for the faint-hearted. You need a strong business sense and some specific skills to become successful.

Don’t know what these skills are? Don’t worry - this article covers the 5 essential skills every entrepreneur should master to have an awesome startup.  

The term ‘skill’ in this context is broader than just competence and proficiency, also encompassing attributes and characteristics that can be developed. Skills can be developed through knowledge and expertise but also through awareness and time spent nurturing specific characteristics.

20% of small businesses fail in their first year, and only 50% will survive beyond 5 years. You probably don’t want to end up in that category, right?  Yet, there's an intense stream of potential for a breakdown in business, with a variety of factors which can result in failure.

So I’m going to share my knowledge here, to help make things a little easier for you throughout the process, by identifying the important skills to get your startup off the ground and flying.

1. Have a curious and creative mind

Entrepreneurs, dream so audaciously that people call you crazy. If you’re planning to launch your business soon, you need to be aware of the big picture. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Curiosity is as important as intelligence… and can be developed.”  

Curiosity is linked to customers — What’s the problem your customers need solving? What are your customers saying to others? How do your customers feel? What would your existing customers want to change about your product?

Curiosity is linked to the competition — How is your competition solving the problems in your industry? What makes your competition better? What can you learn from them?

Curiosity is linked to culture — What is your leadership style? What motivates and engages your teams? What inspires loyalty in your business?

Raise your creativity along with your curiosity quotient. The only way you can make a big difference is by being curious and creative and creativity is about being able to adapt to new situations and finding solutions as problems start. Beyond this, find creative ways to make your business idea stand out.

2. Communicate effectively

One of the best examples of an entrepreneur with brilliant communications skills is Steve Jobs.  You can’t be successful without this, and a breakdown in communication can be a cause of your business going under.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to communicate daily with your employees, customers, and potential customers. If the other side isn’t listening, then why are you even talking?

Good communication also involves listening and taking constructive criticism.

You need to communicate effectively with your team to motivate them so you’re all moving forward to the same goal. Team communication software such as Slack can make a huge difference here.

3. Learn resilience

Everybody has a plan; but businesses don’t always go according to plan. And when that happens, you need to be resilient. Resilience means adapting to adversity, it means bushing off discouragement and picking yourself up again after setbacks.

Setbacks are unavoidable in all lines of business, and they’re not pleasant.

So, how do you build resilience? Building resilience simply means staying calm and focused in the face of unexpected challenges, and not giving up. It means rethinking what appears to be a negative event and realizing that it can actually be a seed for future growth.

Thomas Edison is the perfect example. He invented the light bulb, but only after repeated failed attempts. Failure taught Thomas Edison to rethink and innovate, time after time.

The difference between success and failure often comes down to the ability to turn missteps into strength, and that’s not necessarily related to talent.That’s resilience!

4. Managing cash flow

This one's obvious, right? But it's amazing how many businesses founder on poor cash flow management.

Startup fail.
Source; Statista

In the early years, your business will likely feel precarious; cash flow challenges are common for startups. Entrepreneurs struggle to navigate through cash flow issues simply through not being able to reconcile accounts and falling behind on payments.  

Remember this – cash is king.

Collect your receivables on time (establish a consistent invoicing schedule and invoice on time) and time your payables (schedule bills according to your cash flow). Good cash flow management brings security, and financial security is proportional to business success.

5. Selling the vision

Not everyone who embarks on the journey to be an entrepreneur is successful. Vision is the vital energy needed to drive the entrepreneur. But it’s not only about defining the vision, it’s also about selling it: a vision unshared is not a vision. Like any other skill, the clear and effective presentation of your ideas can be learned and improved. Be clear, enthusiastic and realistic in presenting your vision. Listen to criticism and see what you may need to adapt to get your startup on the road to success.

The world’s most successful entrepreneurs possess these essential set of business skills. If you don't want to be labeled as just another fail statistic, you should learn and apply these skills.  If you fail to pay respect to these principles of success, the potential for failure skyrockets.

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