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Starting a Business Inventory Your Entrepreneurial Skills


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									Starting a Business? Inventory Your Entrepreneurial Skills
Almost every business start-up checklist that aspiring entrepreneurs will
read, refers to “must know” information about legal issues, money
management, sales, marketing and operations. In fact, success as an
entrepreneur not only relies on your knowledge and effective execution of
these fundamentals, but also requires a constant commitment to keep
growing and gaining knowledge in these areas. Fortunately, there are many
resources available for small businesses in the form of professional
services or public agencies available to help us augment our own skills
in these areas at affordable rates. As we busy ourselves getting on top
of these business-technical skills to manage day-to-day operations, it
doesn’t take long for us to realize that these skills, although
essential, might not be enough to make your business start-up succeed.
What could be missing? Maybe it is that other, less talked about,
business start-up check list - the one that speaks to the actual success
behaviors necessary to run and grow your new business. Skills or traits
such as judgment, confidence, agility, and creativity are some of the
critical intangibles that are hard to measure, next to impossible to farm
out but critical for start-up business success. For most of us it’s
relatively easy to look at the numbers and know if cash flow is good or
bad or to look at a marketing plan and say if it worked or not. On the
other hand, however, it might be hard for many of us to own up to having
limited knowledge or weakness especially if we are fearful that admission
might force us to shelve our dreams of business ownership. The fact is,
we can significantly enhance our chances of new business success if we
take the time to inventory our skill set and put strategies in place to
enhance those skills we can and seek help and support where we struggle.
For most of us, much of this self discovery will take place once your
start-up is in motion. In other words, we will learn on the job. Our
hope, of course, is that it will happen early enough to avoid serious
consequences. However, with a little bit of introspection and honest
evaluation of our preferences or behaviors, we can actually examine our
own tendencies and put corrective actions in place early.
The following simple assessment, albeit non-scientific, is one way to
take inventory of our abilities in some of the required non-business-
technical areas. It is based on the well accepted principle which has
been used successfully in the job interview for years - that past
behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.
Create a spreadsheet with five columns and label them as follows:
Column 1 - Skill or Trait – List the following 20 traits that are
generally regarded as new business start-up skills. Feel free to add
others you know to be important.
i. Agility
ii. Confidence
iii. Courage
iv. Creativity
v. Decisiveness
vi. Self discipline
vii. Good judgment
viii. Flexibility
ix. Hard Worker
x. Leadership
xi. Multitask effectively
xii. Networking ability
xiii. Objectivity
xiv. Openness to new ideas
xv. Political Savvy
xvi. Resilience
xvii. Self-starter
xviii. Interpersonal skills
xix. Risk tolerance
xx. Visionary
Column 2 – Rating: On a scale of 1-10, rate yourself on each of these
entrepreneurial traits – with “1” meaning you have concerns about your
strengths and “10” meaning you have confidence your skills are strong in
this area.
Column 3 – Example: Identify the best example in your past that
demonstrates your strength with regard to the entrepreneurial trait or
skill in question.
Column 4 - Strategy – Define a plan of action to address your
shortcomings in any entrepreneurial trait where your self score is less
than a 6 – especially if you consider it important to your start-up
Column 5 - Sensitivity – To help focus and prioritize your efforts, rank
the entrepreneurial skills and traits based on their relative
significance to your business. For example if you sell widgets via the
internet, interpersonal business skills, which are always important,
might be less significant than agility to keep up with internet marketing
trends. On the other hand if you run an in home day care, agility within
very stringent government regulations might be a little harder and so you
might choose to focus on your networking abilities to keep and gain new
Column 3 is quite possibly the most important. It forces us as
entrepreneurs to not just say how good we are, but to actually identify
specific examples to demonstrate how we have acted in the past. If you
have scored yourself with a high rating (6 or higher) and cannot identify
great examples in your past to support that ranking - you might need to
rethink your self rated scores.
Once you have completed the exercise yourself, ask someone whose opinion
you value or potential business partners to complete a similar chart with
their observations about you and each other. Comparing the results should
give you a good idea of skills you have mastered and those which are
potential weak areas you might need to address to improve you or your
team’s chance of success. Brainstorm potential solutions and be open to
the fact that it might come in many forms. One entrepreneur might choose
to join business clusters to share ideas another could decide to create a
board of advisors. No one path will fit everyone or every business model.
Facing our fears head on will significantly improve our chances of
business start-up success. The last thing we want as our businesses begin
to grow is to find out that our skills bank is close to running on empty
and doing this personal inventory is long overdue and. Begin taking stock
of your entrepreneurial skills today!
Marcia Robinson is the COO for Reel Logix, Inc. a Beverly Hills,
California company that makes easy-to-use, affordable scheduling calendar
software. The company's two flagship products are The Reel Production
Calendar, a production calendar used in film production, and The Calendar
Planner, now used for scheduling, event planning and project management
in multiple industries.

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