mary portas speaking at department for business innovation and skills

Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Being an entrepreneur is simultaneously one of the most satisfying lifestyles and one of the most stressful and potentially risky.

When you’re responsible for your own income and business, there are a million different things you’ll have to juggle, and a million different distractions and red herrings which can throw you off track.

Here are some important skills that every would-be entrepreneur needs to develop if they want to experience the best of their chosen lifestyle.

Judging when it’s time to throw money at a problem

There are certain problems in business which can be solved by “throwing money” at them – and others which can’t. It’s a fine balance between spending and wasting money, and it’s essential for you as an entrepreneur to know which is which, and to be able to judge when it’s time to direct more resources at a particular issue or not.

If you find that a new product range is failing to sell, two possible reasons could be a lack of money spent on advertising, or poor understanding of your market, combined with lack of time spent on customer focus groups and market research.

One of these problems can be solved by increasing your advertising budget. The other will require a completely different approach to product launches going forward.

At any given time, you might find that it’s essential you invest capital in your business which isn’t readily available. In these cases, it may be wise to seek out business loans from companies such as, or to seek out investment partners who may be willing to contribute in exchange for a foothold in the business.

Knowing when you’re wasting your energy

In business, the “80-20 rule” states that 80% of the positive results you experience will come from a core 20% of your overall business-related activities.

The idea of this principle is that you should rigorously analyse every business activity that you spend time on, identify which ones aren’t worth it in terms of profit vs. effort, and cut them out or delegate them wherever possible.

This kind of professional discernment comes with experience, but it’s essential that you begin training yourself in this skill as early as possible. Often, what separates the successful entrepreneur from the unsuccessful one is simply how they choose to allocate their time. In other words, whether they work “smart”, or just “hard”.

Budgeting for everything

Being self-employed confers a whole range of benefits – you’re in control of your own time, you’re the master of your own income stream, and so on. At the same time, though, there are also some downsides.

One of the major downsides is the simple fact that you have to cover all of your expenses on your own. There’s no company scheme handling pensions, healthcare or sick leave for you.

As all these additional expenses have to come out of your own pocket, it’s essential that you get comfortable with budgeting meticulously for everything.

Planning where to allocate your financial resources at any given point is absolutely essential to your success as an entrepreneur. Failing to put money in the right budget categories can land you in deep water.

Being completely aware of your outgoings

One of the great problems for the average person trying to be financially responsible is the fact that they’ll allow themselves to “leak” money from certain areas of their lives without being aware of it.

That problem goes double for any business, and triple for any business that you’re personally responsible for.

Are you losing vast amounts of money on an annual basis simply because you’ve chosen a poor webhosting plan? Is your relationship with a wholesaler resulting in you getting a raw deal?

Analyse all of your outgoings and be constantly on the lookout for ways to responsibly cut costs.

Photo Credit: Department for Business Innovation & Skills

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