Every conqueror or revolutionary from history was able to mobilise large masses to achieve their vision and gain victory. Entrepreneurs are no less. With grit, determination and courage they chart a course, overcoming numerous hurdles to achieve their goals. Today, entrepreneurs need to be gladiators as well as statesmen to steer their start-ups to success. But without the requisite skills to connect with people they are likely to lose steam very soon. Indeed, people skills are more important than you ever imagined, for an entrepreneur in particular.
Though they may be the visionaries of their businesses, the execution of that vision involves people at various levels – employees, customers, investors, vendors and other stakeholders. Also, while some entrepreneurs are born ‘people’s persons’ and are able to connect well with others and exercise a certain degree of influence over them, which can prove to be a huge advantage, others may need to make a special effort to get to that point. Afterall, if a little little ‘X Factor’ can make a difference to your startup, then the effort is well worth it.
Here are some key people skills which can prove to be a boon for an entrepreneur:
1. Ability to nurture relationships
No matter how savvy you may be with your chosen field of business, yet being a first time entrepreneur, many times you will be faced with doubts and confusion. A lot of times the struggle and the grind will bog you down. This is where your past and present relationships with a mentor or fellow entrepreneurs will be the beacon of light.
According to entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. They will prove to be very effective sounding boards for your ideas or even challenges. They are also the conduit to a whole network of vendors, buyers, consultants and even future employees and partners to leverage your business.
2. Good communication skills
The ability to sell your idea to the investor or sell your product to potential clients is closely linked to good communication skills. To make a pitch to the investors and be able to convince them to believe in your product and grant funding is half the battle won. And if over and above that, you have it in you to build a genuine ‘connect’ with them, it is certainly an added advantage since it adds to the comfort level.
Same is the case with sales. Interacting with customers and suppliers to negotiate a better deal through intuitive and engaging communications skills is an age old skill. More recent social skills involve social networking, wherein you need to set the right tone for your product to grab attention. Together, these qualities give you than ‘winning edge’.
3. Pay attention to your interpersonal skills
As an entrepreneur you need the unconditional backing of your team to take the business forward. Be sure to develop into an active listener or an emphatic listener. Right from the stage when you hire the right people you have to be a good listener to gauge the apparent and not so obvious qualities of a candidate during an interview. It will come to great use during conflict resolution.
Conflict management within your team or with clients and suppliers will test all your interpersonal skills. Many a times you will have to mediate to resolve issues among people and this is one area where you need to put your skills to test.
Being a good leader to your employees does not mean you adopt autocratic way of functioning. But, being receptive, persuasive and tolerant towards your employees will win their allegiance. Personal characteristics like an optimistic outlook, vision, approachable demeanour, drive and resilience need to be projected to make your team motivated towards the desired goal.
The ability to train your team personally in key areas through frequent discussions and clearly laid down guidelines on a regular basis will ensure they will stay with you in the long run. So, a continuous engagement with your team is essential to keep the momentum going.
To be an effective entrepreneur you should be able to communicate the ‘big picture’ in your head and get others to come aboard. Also, since the entire entrepreneurship game is something where are dealing with different people to accomplish different things in order to achieve a common goal, it all boils down to the relationships you build with others in the ecosystem. Given, the world is small, even if things sometimes don’t work in your favour, you can burn brides and ruin your own prospects.
Rather, your charisma should be such that the right people remember you at the right time, so you can reap the maximum gains. While your product of course has to be very strong; and if supported with great people’s skills of the entrepreneur and the core team, you can be sure of a relatively smooth sailing through the otherwise choppy waters that characterize entrepreneurship.