Guest post by Ali Golds, MD; Entrepreneur and Speaker

When setting up a business, the focus is often on the idea and developing it into a money making venture. And rightly so, no-one wants to spend a lot of time and energy on an idea that has no legs. However, there is also another – equally as important – area that, in all the idea planning, is being forgotten. You.

You, and your skills, are as important as your idea. After all, you can have the best idea in the world but not have the skills or drive to see it through. And you can be the most enterprising person ever but be continually stuck when it comes to a great idea. Each area is as vital as the other.

So what skills do you need to be an entrepreneur? There has been a lot of research into this question and, listed below, are those that come up the most:

Creative thinker Listens to their gut feeling (intuition)
Good communicator Can cope with uncertainty and complexity
Good negotiator Builds trust with others
Confident Resilient
Presenting themselves Literate
Presenting information Numerate
Focused and determined Risk taker
Independent Persuasive
Problem solver

The first mistake that people make is assuming that you have to be ALL of these things to run a business. You don’t. No-one can be everything, although as entrepreneurs we like to think that we are. It’s in our nature. The key is to ascertain which of these skills you are good at, and which you aren’t. You then play to your strengths and – this is the critical part – you find someone to cover the things that you can’t do.

For instance, I have set up 5 businesses over the last 13 years (as mentioned in last weeks blog post) and am absolutely hopeless at Maths. In fact, I am Dyscalculic – in essence, the numbers version of Dyslexia. I know that it has an impact on me and how I run my business, so I have a fabulous accountant who is aware of my problems in this area and does all of the things I just can’t do.

It’s not unusual to find entrepreneurs who have challenges with Maths and English; those who are Dyslexic are well-documented. In fact, it can sometimes be a bonus! It means that we deal with problems differently, which is never a bad thing. Creative thinking is on the list after all.

There are courses available in the practical things on the list – negotiation skills, presentation skills, communication, for instance so no reason for not improving in these areas.  Being a member of an organisation like Rotaract can also help you develop these skills.  And often, with practice, some of the others will improve in the process, and give you more confidence into the bargain. Another skill on the list.

So when you are planning your business, don’t forget to look at what you can bring to it and what you might need to improve on or sub-contract out. It’s not a weakness to admit to not being good at something; it’s a strength. And one of the 3 criteria for success, often talked about in business, is knowing your strengths and weaknesses.

See you next week when I will look at ideas; how you can come up with them, and then decide which is the best one.