Difficult times like the ones we are currently facing in Cambodia, can be taken as an opportunity to develop some business ideas or projects that we previously had in mind but were never able to execute or even strategize. Needless to say, this message is directed towards people who are fortunate enough to have a decent shelter and sufficient economic and time resources.
In this blog, I would like to outline some very simple but crucial skills that I believe any entrepreneur should possess in order to successfully develop a profitable business or project.
As I stated in my previous blog, also part of the topic series of ‘Entrepreneurship’, being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean creating a business. Being an entrepreneur, regardless of your work or profession, involves a wide range of behaviours and attitudes such as undertaking new challenges, taking risks, innovating, etc.
That being said, if you do want to start a business, there is a set of skills that you are most likely going to need in order to ‘keep the ship afloat’ and try to thrive when the moment comes.
Hereunder, I explain some of the basic skills that, based on my personal experience, have played an important role in the projects and businesses I have been involved in. If you believe I am missing some important facts or there is something you would like to add to my words, I ask you to kindly leave a message in the comment section below, I will be very happy to learn more about your different perspectives.
Skill 1 – Identifying Opportunities:
If you have not yet thought about the type of business/project you would like to start, you should begin by asking yourself a few questions: Has the service/product already been created? Do I know people that would be interested in this product/service (am I solving an unsolved problem)? What is the value for the potential customer? Is the idea scalable?.
At this stage, it is very important to listen to what your potential leads or customers say. You need to understand their worries, frustrations in the past when using a certain product or service, etc. You can also allocate time to run a competitive analysis. What are other companies not doing? Or you can even come up with your own findings based on self reflections.
I often think about my own experience as a customer, trying to be mindful of the reasons why I consume certain products. For instance, I am very fond of good coffee and coffee shops with a special atmosphere. Everytime I have moved from one city to another, one of my first goals is to identify a great coffee shop in which I can enjoy working, reading a book, meeting a friend, etc.
I have realized that what drives my internal decision-making process, based on experience, is the warmth and competence of the staff. I prioritize that on top of the quality of the coffee itself, being able to have a ‘not so good’ coffee and still enjoy it because of the ambience and mood in the space where I am at.
By doing that self reflection, I am able to interiorize the concept of business I want to have, whether it is a coffee shop or a technology company.
Skill 2 – Critical Thinking
Whatever role you are fulfilling inside a company, everything is easier when you are able to use logic to identify, understand and solve problems. Being a critical thinker can allow you to:
- Improve your communications strategy
Communicating effectively with your team is related to your ability to reason, allowing you to formulate clear explanations to common issues. With critical thinking, you will be able to tailor your speech to the different members of your team, a great advantage when you have to present new ideas.
- Making your operations more efficient
Critical thinking can enable you to dissect and optimize business processes.
- Simplify the product/service you are developing
People just don’t have the time or the interest to wade through corporate rhetoric and jargon to figure out what you’re trying to tell them. Through clarity of thought and presentation, it’s possible for a business to rise above the cacophony of today’s marketplace (FASTCOMPANY).
Skill 3 – Risk Management
Be conscious of the risk that you confront and prioritize your next moves appropriately since some level of risk is unavoidable in every business. Below, some of the risks you may encounter, particularly at early stages:
- Uncertainty of customer preferences.
- Cash flow risks, specially due to unexpected events (e.g., need to pay a third party to ensure project success), client payment structures, etc.
- Human resources. Losing human capital is one of the biggest challenges you can face when starting a new business, as there is usually a high level of dependency.
- Logistics is another risk for many companies, often a struggle for e-commerce firms.
- Pricing. Make sure you have a clear pricing strategy for your product or service, depending on the quality, competitor’s price, current demand, client typology, etc.
Skill 4 – Developing Standard Operating Procedures.
What is an SOP? According to Tallyfy, SOPs are brief, easy-to-understand and use documents, showing action points and workflows. The aim of the SOPs is to create processes for performing defined tasks.
Normally, a good SOP outlines steps for habitual actions within the business such as:
- Onboarding a new customer or employee.
- Assigning tasks to clients and employees.
- Executing projects with focus on meeting deadlines.
Why Do Companies Need Standard Operating Procedures? SOPs are needed in order to ensure efficiency across the different areas of your organization. Once you have set a procedure in place, it is a lot easier to identify bottlenecks and parts of the process that can be enhanced.
Skill 5 – Scaling a Company
After strengthening your operations, you may ask yourself: am I ready to grow? When the moment comes, you will probably need to consider the following:
- You need to have the will and ambition to scale. Scaling will probably involve giving up hours of sleep, Netflix, hangout with friends, etc.
- Make sure your team is ready with enough knowledge and commitment to help you grow.
- Build relationships, make sure your growth mindset focuses on developing partnerships and collaborations.
- Define your strength. Understanding potential competitors is important but having a unique approach is key (learn more about how to define your unique approach here).
As always, thank you for your time you have taken to read the blog. I would be very happy to answer any questions or comments you may have.