Did you know that you can be one of the most brilliant minds in your field, but lack what it takes to become successful entrepreneurs? This is because in addition to needing hard skills (technical knowledge), you also need soft skills. If you don’t have these skills, you cannot successfully develop a business, work with others, or do many of the other tasks required when you own your own business. The six soft skills you need to learn are leadership, relationship building, empathy, public speaking, time management, and negotiation. If you would like to learn more about each of these skills, continue reading. Not only will we define each skill, we will also provide resources so that you can take steps to further develop your soft skills.
Public speaking is a tough one. Very few of us are natural public speakers, but if you want to lead the next great startup, you will have to learn to become comfortable speaking to groups. If you wish to become a better public speaker, you must do the following:
- Work to get past your discomfort at public speaking
- Learn your voice – Are you naturally funny, do you have an inspiring story, etc.?
- Make an effort to speak to other people.
As you develop your public speaking skills, you will begin to notice that you can apply these same skills to developing your acumen as a salesperson. Take a moment to think about the similarities. You are making a presentation, you are working to convince your audience, and you are doing so in spite of any trepidation that you may have.
Read more here for some excellent public speaking advice.
Time management is simply using your time in a way that is most productive to you. In order to do this successfully you must, prioritize your tasks, use a calendar or an app in order to stay organized and on top of things, work hard during your most productive times, use self-discipline to avoid wasting time, learn what helps you to be efficient, delegate tasks, and give yourself breaks when you truly need them. If you learn time management, you will become more productive, and you will make the people on your team feel as if their time is also valued and respected. Time management is one of the most essential skills that all successful entrepreneurs have developed already in college. Without this habit, you cannot expect to succeed in college or business.
Here is an excellent course on time management for entrepreneurs.
Business is all about building beneficial relationships, not just for you and your company, but for your customers, vendors, and employees. Hopefully, you already possess one of the core traits required in relationship building. This is simply being a decent person who cares about others and who wants to provide them with information, assistance, or entertainment. You can begin relationship building by starting an informational blog for your customers, posting instructional videos on YouTube, or simply reaching out to potential customers with a giveaway offer. Some people are hesitant to engage in relationship building because they don’t want to risk giving something and getting nothing back in return. However, if you give it a try, you will see that for the most part, people will reciprocate.
Take a moment to learn more about building business relationships.
Many people know how to be a boss. Not many know how to be a leader. A boss gives out orders. A leader is not solely focused on accomplishing tasks. They are focused on developing a team and developing the people within their team. Leadership means:
- Showing a willingness to work as hard as anybody on your team
- Understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivates each member of your team
- Supporting truly open communication
- Giving feedback that is fair, timely, and constructive
Developing leadership skills is truly a trial by fire. The best way to grow this skill is to lead in an open and honest way, seek advice from mentors, and to be open to feedback from your team.
Check out this great blog post about building up your skills as a leader.
Negotiation is a tough skill to learn. If you’ve never participated in a negotiation session before, it can feel strange contradicting what another party feels you deserve for your products and services. If you are on the other side of the negotiation table it is equally as uncomfortable. Fortunately, you can develop strong negotiation skills as long as you practice, and you know a few tricks:
- Know what you are willing to do if you cannot come to an agreement
- Remain calm
- Know your stuff
- Never make a claim you cannot back up
Try practicing your negotiating skills at flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales. Start by simply asking for a small discount or a buy one get one free offer.
Here you can find more useful tools for productive negotiations.
Empathy is one of the most important skills that an entrepreneur can acquire. It can be easy to confuse sympathy with empathy, but there are some distinct differences between the two words. Sympathy is simply feeling compassion for another person. Empathy includes that same feeling compassion, but is a result of understanding where another person is coming from. If you develop a strong sense of empathy, it will help you to approach customer service issues from a position of understanding, support and motivate your employees, and even to develop content to which your customers can relate.
Strongly developed empathy skills begin with great listening skills. The more you listen, the more you understand the other person’s view point. In order to truly listen, however, you have to engage in active listening. This means asking questions to clarify and learn more, and repeating back what you have heard to show that you understand.
Here are five ways you can become more empathetic.