Fancy ditching the nine to five? What makes a successful entrepreneur?

Many people dream of setting up their own business and becoming an entrepreneur, but what skills will you actually need to get started?

For those who aren’t running their own business, the venture can be quite romanticised; managing your own time and salary, earning millions while your creative juices inspire you to success. But they don’t see all the skills and hardwork underneath that leads to that success.

Success doesn’t land in peoples laps unwanted, they have to earn it and work many different aspects of the business to make sure that it works.

What skills do you need to become the next big fish in business?

What makes a great entrepreneur?

The dreaded spreadsheet

Even if you don’t necessarily have strong mathematical prowess, you will need to have a good grasp of finances and balancing the books. Technology gives you a bit of help with Microsoft excel and other apps that will help expedite the process, but knowing how to navigate your way round a spreadsheet is vital.

There are plenty of tools (free and paid) such as GCS LearnFree and UDemy that can equip you with the knowledge to confidently manage your books online.

Market to the masses

Building your dream business will be a pointless exercise if you don’t properly know how to put yourself in front of customers eyes and marketing plays a pivotal role in the success of any business.

You will need to know the difference between a CMS and SEO, content and email and all the ways in which a business can reach their audience. The importance and ubiquity of social media cannot be understated and those who neglect this challenge will quickly slip behind. You need to be proactive and learn what works to get yourself ranking hire on Twitter, Google, Facebook and within your given sector.

Word of mouth still influences a businesses success and an entrepreneur that understands how to sway that influence will see success.

Sell, sell, sell!

Attached to your ability to market yourself and your business to customers, you will then need to be able to secure sales in order to make a profit on your business. It sounds simple, but the tricky part of running a business isn’t just trying to find your customer its about actually getting them to buy from you.

Your sales pitch and your passion and confidence in your business must carry through to the customer and having a likeable, sociable and, crucially, friendly customer service approach can marry up your secured sale to your marketing strategy as customers who feel appreciated will likely tell other people.

If you can’t sell your product, then who can?!

Project and people management

When running a business, an entrepreneur will need to wear many hats and fill many different roles. You will have to manage a range of projects, such as setting up a website, arranging the fit-out of your premises and developing a range of policies and procedures. Knowing how to effectively manage your resources, including time, money and staff will help you to achieve your goals.

Conversely, the ability to delegate tasks that you simply don’t have the time or resources for is a vital skill to pick up.

Money matters

You need to keep a tight grip on your finances from day one. Track your invoices and expenses, make a budget and stick to it, and keep a cushion of money for difficult times. Try out some of the really useful tech solutions available now to help you.

Tax especially can catch a lot of newly self-employed people out. Try using SimpleTax – it allows you to track sales and expenses as you go, so you know how much tax you are likely to pay. No nasty surprises. Plus the app version allows you to scan receipts as you go – so no panicked searches for stray bits of paper come January. You’ll also save a few hundred quid as you won’t have the need for an accountant to file your tax return.

Lastly, to quote Mr Branson – “If you don’t like being an entrepreneur, you’re doing it wrong. When you can’t wait to get to work in the morning and you are generally having a good time, there is a far greater chance that you’ll create a positive, innovative atmosphere and your business will flourish.”

So, good luck! The risks can be large and it can be a tough road, but the end result may well be worth it.

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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