Entrepreneurship throws a lot of curveballs, and it’s true, some people just know when to swing. But if you’re a little unsure, or if you’re just starting out, developing these 5 skills will help you get that homerun. With a little patience, anyone can master these 5 skills needed to run a business.
Adapting is survival in times like these. It’s important to remember that pivoting can keep you afloat.
Adaptability: Being light on those proverbial feet is helpful in business. The ability to pivot quickly—whether that’s ideas, plans, launches, or strategies—is essential in creating an atmosphere of progress and growth. I’m not exaggerating when I say that something goes wrong every single day. Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes exactly as designed when you own your own business. New problems come up that I’ve never encountered before, and I have to adapt quickly, revising plans and rearranging schedules to accommodate new information. I lead an ear care business. We sell ear drops and sprays in over 13K retail stores nationwide and online on Amazon. Besides being adaptive every day, there is a specific example that stands out to me as a time where pivoting was important and created business opportunities for my ear care company. A few years ago, we had a call from our customer service line. They were asking where they could get our EARWAX MD ear cleaner by the gallon. My business partner and I were befuddled. Who would want our 15mL bottles of EARWAX MD by the gallon? It turns out, it was a veterinary clinic buying our product off retail shelves to treat pets’ ears. “It’s the best product I’ve ever seen at cleaning out earwax for pets because it doesn’t irritate their ears,” the vet told us. We hadn’t thought of reformulating and marketing toward non-human customers, but once we saw the opportunity, we moved into action, reformulated a bit, and developed a new product for animals. Being light on our feet and small enough to pivot easily created an opening that we otherwise might not have thought of or taken. A lot of businesses are having to adapt right now in the wake of COVID-19. Devastating blows to businesses like stores and restaurants are leaving companies scrambling. Adapting is survival in times like these. It’s important to remember that pivoting can keep you afloat.
Positivity: Having a positive mindset can change the culture of an organization completely. I’ll be clear, when everything seems to be going wrong, you’ve got a million things to do, and the Wi-Fi is acting up, positive thinking won’t solve all your problems. It won’t increase your sales, nor will it polish your website and get people to give you their email address. It will, however, increase morale and productivity. It will make you feel better about everything that isn’t quite right, and it will give you permission to laugh off the small stuff (and maybe the big stuff, too). I use the power of positivity every day in my office. In fact, it’s one of our core values as a company. It comes in handy when I receive some not-so-pleasant news, like recently when a major retailer pulled the plug on stocking our products in their stores. The news was devastating, considering, as a small company, we had planned, strategized, hired, built up inventory, and expanded our warehouse and manufacturing space to accommodate the amount of componentry and finished goods for the new retailer. After allowing myself to feel sad and upset (being positive doesn’t mean not giving yourself time to grieve), I allowed myself to laugh at the absurdity of what had happened. I thought of the relationships and connections I had built up along the way with this retailer that may be beneficial later in my career. Looking on the bright side didn’t solve my problem or get my products onto that retailer’s shelf, but it did help me get through a tough blow.
Having a learning mindset or a kind of curiosity about your business will help you plow through problems and work through learning something new.
Resilience: Bouncing back from mistakes, hardships, and failures in the business world is not only a good skill, but it’s necessary for entrepreneurship. If anyone who had tried their hand at starting their own business gave up after any kind of failure, we’d have no businesses. Resilience is the ability to keep moving forward, even when things are grim. For instance, when the large retailer didn’t have room for our products on their shelf, it was frustrating; however, we had to keep moving forward to the next big thing.Resilience is key when you inevitably fail. Failure is part of entrepreneurship, and it’s a valuable learning tool. Failure paired with resilience is a combination that can’t be beaten. So, the next time you make an epic mistake, just remember, it’s not about what you did, it’s about how you bounce back.
Learner mindset: As entrepreneurs, there are things that we encounter every day that we don’t know how to do, and we’ve never done before. However, there is no limit to what you can learn. Learning and being willing to learn is a skill that will come in handy when starting your business as it will set you up for a career of curiosity. Coming up against things that you don’t know how to do is scary; just remember, everything is figureoutable. There’s always a way, a solution, or the right thing to do. Having a learning mindset or a kind of curiosity about your business will help you plow through problems and work through learning something new.
Teamwork: Say it with me—teamwork makes the dream work. The silly rhyme is actually true. Surrounding yourself with a good team that hones these 5 skills along with you is a powerful tool in building and scaling your company. Collaboration is key when trying to solve a problem in the office. When a team works well together, they can accomplish anything. Everyone brings something different to the table, so it’s important while hiring to get a real sense of who the person is. At my company, instead of doing one interview and making a decision, we put our candidates through a rigorous interviewing process. We do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives them a sense of the job, as well as gives them an opportunity to show they want the job. Secondly, it helps us get to know them and how they work a bit better. When they pass through all the stages of the interview process, they come on board with a 90-day plan and a head start. They’ve gotten to know the team and they understand their role.
There you have it—5 entrepreneurial skills you’ll need to run your own business. With these 5 skills under your belt, you’ll be able to face challenges with a sense of confidence knowing that you can adapt, be positive and resilient, have a learner’s mindset, and have a great team to back you up. Everything is figureoutable. There’s nothing you can’t learn how to do.
About the Author
Elyse Stoltz Dickerson is CEO and co-founder of Eosera, Inc., a female-led biotech company committed to developing innovative products that address underserved healthcare needs. Elyse holds an MBA from Cox School of Business at SMU and completed her undergraduate degree at Notre Dame University. Elyse has over 2 decades of experience leading teams in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. She managed portfolios with annual revenues of $1.7 billion and drove product innovation and the commercialization of numerous technologies across the globe. Elyse resides in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and two children.