4 Skills Every Entrepreneur Should Possess


Entrepreneurs are a unique bunch. Not just everyone has the nerve to strike out on their own and attempt to create an empire out of nothing.

Sadly, 50% fail within that first 5 years. Of those that do make it past the 5 year mark, most never make more than $100,000 a year.

In order for our country to bounce back from what is continuing to be a very bad recession, it’s going to take a renewal of the entrepreneurial spirit like never before. To that end, here are 4 skills I believe every Entrepreneur must possess. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these 4 skills represent the way a person gathers facts and makes decisions.

4 Skills of Successful Entrepreneurs

These 4 skills are so ingrained in successful Entrepreneurs that it can be hard to see them in action. They are hard to separate and are actually much deeper, and more profound than mere skills. Together these skills represent how a person views the world internally and dictates how that person will react to the world as a result.

Listening Skills
When people talk, do you listen? Not just, “yeah” and “uh-huh,” but really listen? The reason this is so important is: when people talk they use words that describe their inner state, how they view a topic, how they view the world, and how they view themselves.

For example, let’s say you sell software to Financial institutions. You are speaking with the IT Director at a regional credit union. She says, “We’d like to upgrade our systems to make them more efficient, but I don’t see any way we can find the time for implementation.

Master NLP trainer and Business Consultant Michael Breen says that “every statement is a claim to knowledge,” and how they arrived at their conclusion is usually what we want to understand. That may sound complex, but let me break it down.

There is a lot of information in the simple remark above. What can you understand from the statement by the IT Director?

We’d like to” = This is vague. She has been speaking with someone else regarding the needs of the company. Who is that person(s). What is the solution they believe will work?

Upgrade our systems” = This is vague. To what? From what? In what way? How do they know they need to upgrade their systems? What has happened to give them cause to review other options? What do they expect to happen as a result?

To make them more efficient” = This is vague. You should ask for specifics. What does “efficient” mean? How do they determine what “efficient” is?

But I don’t see any way” = She takes the world in visually (you should speak to her using visual words like view, clear, horizon, vision, etc.) She doesn’t have the knowledge she needs to make a decision. She is missing resources. She expects a solution. She isn’t comfortable with the proposed solution. She is frustrated.

We can find the time” = Time management or productivity is an issue in the business. There may be an employee morale issue that is stymieing employee effectiveness, or their could be a specific constraint on the teams effectiveness.

For implementation.” = This is vague. This is the process to deliver the solution she and her team have identified. How have they identified it as the solution? What does implementation really mean? Installation of software on 1 server or hundreds of servers? Training of 5 employees or thousands of employees?

This statement could spawn an hour’s worth of conversation in order to understand what she is saying. While I won’t go into all of the ways you could use to discover and clarify the information this simple remark reveals is missing here, it does seem obvious that you now have a lot of potential questions to ask.

A highly developed ability to listen to others gives you the meaning behind their words, identifies what is missing in their remarks, helps you understand their primary representational system, and much more.

Ask the Right Questions
In the above remark, the IT Director thought she was making sense, but really left a lot to be clarified. As a salesperson and/or a business owner, your job, and goal, is to make the sale. What you may not realize is that the questions you ask will steer the conversation and the clients decisions.

In the above situation, it seems obvious that the decision makers in the company have met to decide upon a solution to a problem. What that problem is, and whether their solution is really a solution is yet to be determined.

As every cub reporter is taught, your job is to find out the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Just watch out for the “why” question. The word why by itself, when used as a question, is unspecific and known to keep clients talking for hours about random, inconsequential things.

While you want to know as much as you can so you are clear, you should learn to be able to ask one to three questions that are well placed and not only give you the information you want to know, but also lead your client to a conclusion you want to suggest.

The one question to ask in the example above is: “What are you trying to accomplish?”

When she tells you and you know your product would be a great fit, you don’t tell her that yet. First you ask another question or two and lead a bit…

“What are your needs to serve your clients?”, “What are your concerns about implementation?”

Here she would spill all of her hot buttons and tell you exactly what you need to know in order to sell her. Keep at it – your odds of selling her increase with every well-placed question.

Skill in asking questions will not only help you to be a better salesperson and make more money in your business, you will also be able to help your employees make better decisions, and come to resolutions much easier.

Impartial Observer
Have you ever noticed when people who are angry try to make a case for their anger, they sound idiotic?

The reason is they are fully in the moment of anger and their emotions are like a raw, exposed nerve. The more able we are to separate ourselves from our emotions, the more objective we become.

In business, your ability to make decisions will depend largely upon your ability to separate yourself from your emotions and make decisions impartially. This can be tough sometimes, but the most successful entrepreneurs are willing and able to make realistic decisions based on data.

You should be able to as well. Regardless of how much you like an idea, a marketing campaign, or an employee, you should be able to make unemotional decisions for the good of the company you are building. The time will come where you will be called upon to be impartial and objectively identify reality as best you can. At that moment, in order to make the right decision, you will need to be objective and impartial.

Common Sense / No B.S.
Common sense seems to be less and less common in people these days. I don’t even fully have it. It’s as if we have been trained over the past 20 years to abdicate our authority and decision making to others.

If we had any common sense at all, we wouldn’t finance so much of our lives, we wouldn’t choose the politicians we choose… we might not even choose the lovers we choose.

It’s because we are so wrapped up in opinions and we don’t look for the facts. When we look specifically at facts and eliminate our feelings on the matter, or what society or others expect of us, we make better decisions.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” but how many of us heed the warning? Fewer and fewer these days it seems.

To be wise and make sound judgments, we need to have some healthy skepticism and try to identify how others might be manipulating us, or using us. It’s better to be cautious and prepare a plan of action than it is to rush headlong into something. Just remember, you have to take action. When you do, give it your all.


There you have it. The 4 skills I believe every entrepreneur worth their salt owns and uses on a daily basis.

When you listen to people and hear what they are really saying, and ask questions that expose the issue, you have real power. You can use that power to help others and grow your business.

When you view events, ideas, and information from many different sides and filter it through common sense and a no B.S. attitude, you will find that your decisions happen faster and are more correct more often.

With these skills under your belt, I believe you will be in the top 10% of your industry, class, team, etc.

Your Turn

What do you think? What are some examples you have where using these skills has helped you? Have any other skills you would like to add? Let me know in the comments below.


photo credit: minnepixel via photopin cc

About Michael Miller

Mike Miller is the co-owner of Mindwhirl.com, a Digital Marketing Agency in Atlanta, Georgia that focuses on aligning sales and marketing for exponentially greater results.

Michael’s mission is helping small business owners understand, and organize their marketing so they can make money and grow.

Mindwhirl helps business owners plan and implement effective, profitable marketing campaigns and sales programs.

If you need more sales, we know how to get leads and grow businesses. Call us today at (770) 295-8660, or email Mike at mmiller@mindwhirl.com.

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