Every business is mostly as good as the owner. An entrepreneur’s qualities determine the growth and success of a business. As an employee, it is more straightforward to handle each specific task assigned to you, but as an entrepreneur, managing tasks is only basic to succeed. There are essential soft skills every entrepreneur should have to move a business to the next level. Otherwise, success remains only a vision. So, let’s dive deeper into the best soft skills every entrepreneur should have and how you can develop such skills.

What are the Soft Skills?

Soft skills are personal traits and habits that shape how you work as an entrepreneur and with others. Effective communication and negotiation, for example, are vital business soft skills for achieving success. Some others include active listening, a positive mindset, initiative, and networking.

When we talk of hard skills vs. soft skills, we realize that soft skills are essential to personality qualities that can’t be learned from a textbook. In comparison, hard skills are necessary to perform technical tasks in a business. What skills are needed to be an entrepreneur?

Top 10 soft skills for entrepreneurs to succeed in business

soft skills vs hard skills

10 essential soft skills include:

  1. Initiative
  2. Negotiation
  3. Leadership
  4. Positive mindset
  5. Networking 
  6. Communication
  7. Creativity
  8. Active listening
  9. Discipline
  10. Customer orientation

1. Initiative

To have initiative is to face new challenges flexibly, present ideas, resources, and innovative methods, and combine them to create a new order. An entrepreneur with initiative is one who always knows when to compromise and make swift decisions. As an entrepreneur, the initiative to face every situation is essential to take your business forward.

Without these soft skills, it becomes very challenging to undertake tasks, especially unexpected tasks. As a team leader and an employer, you have to be able to work independently, take the first step, be adventurous, and be ready and willing to employ new methods/approaches.

2. Negotiation

The constant decrease in sales will put any business owner out of business. Without sales, there is no business. The ability to negotiate excellently comes naturally to some, but it can pretty much be learned with little intentional practice. Each time you converse with customers and clients, your ability to convince and give them a fair deal while getting what you want is the perfect soft skill to make higher sales.

The most vital soft skill that makes up an excellent negotiator is understanding both your body language and your customer’s. In a conversation, body language often matters more than the words spoken. When speaking to a customer, regardless of their stance on a deal, you can usually change their mindset with a show of confidence.

3. Leadership

Leadership is a quality that all entrepreneurs must develop. It is not enough to have a perfect idea or the ideal strategy to go about your business; those are hard skills. An entrepreneur must be able to influence other people’s decisions to accomplish a set goal. This is where we have hard skills vs. soft skills. You should be able to blend your hard skills and your soft skills to succeed in your business.

An entrepreneur should support and motivate others, mostly through exemplary actions and not just words. To demand and to give orders is easy, but the challenge is to show an example as a leader. To be a successful leader and entrepreneur, you must know your team, and they must be able to rely on you for support and morale.

4. Positive Mindset

Some soft skills are more generally acclaimed in a challenging business environment than an optimistic mindset; nevertheless, it is very critical. You should note that a positive mindset isn’t about overlooking mistakes or ignoring the negative impact of wrong decisions, just to remain positive. It is about the level of resilience and attitude your team brings into solving tasks and problems.

As an entrepreneur, it is vital to create a business environment and culture where change is accepted, embraced, and celebrated. Your team should be made up of resourceful individuals with flexibility and optimism.

5. Networking

The way you present yourself, say goodbye, or start a conversation is critical when building a business. Effective networking can lead to certain levels that few can imagine. Any entrepreneur who attends a networking event and goes unnoticed loses a gold mine of relationships and contacts. Networking is crucial and required to expand opportunities for business and professional growth.

Networking is a soft skill needed to increase your network of professional contacts. Without the right connections, there is no growth, and there is no business.

6. Communication

With the right communication level, you can easily transmit the content of a product or an idea to employees, customers, other companies, or partners. As an entrepreneur, you must be aware of the importance of communication as an element of business strategy, and its improvement of the company.

To be an effective communicator, you must consider that every person has a different perception of the world. A business environment where there is an excellent level of communication is an open environment. Make no mistake: A free environment doesn’t just communicate ideas and strategies; it should also improve problem-solving.

7. Creativity

Creativity is one of the most necessary soft skills at a small and large scale. Building from scratch with little funds requires being creative in every detail. Also, the changes throughout the exercise require several gifts of imagination to face several unexpected challenges.

Someone capable of adding value to his or her business would be able to adapt and compromise anytime. A creative entrepreneur knows how to utilize limited resources to expound growth.

8. Active Listening

Active listening is an essential quality on the soft skills list for an entrepreneur looking to maintain the right level of communication and collaboration between employees, customers, and partners. It is vital for getting feedback from customers. Today, most businesses are customer-centric and are beginning to go to several lengths to pay attention to their customers to meet their needs. An excellent example of this is the famous taxi company – Uber. After complaints and several requests from users, the company added a 911 feature to their application.

When a customer gives feedback on an issue, as a business owner, you have to respond or consider the report if it requires an impending product or service improvement.

9. Discipline

The backbone of successful leadership is the steady discipline that profoundly does its job through both ups and downs. A successful business isn’t all about enthusiasm and passion. Those qualities and drives could deplete at any time, and that’s why every successful business owner, at some point, had to learn the skill of discipline. On the soft skills list, discipline is that skill that keeps you going even when the morale is down – there are days when the enthusiasm to push forward is down.

At times when others are giving up or relenting to carry on, you as a business owner can’t afford to fall back. You have to keep making that push until you get to the desired level. Discipline is how you carry out every task and manage the business resources, including employees.

10. Customer Orientation

It is necessary to know and understand your customers to offer personalized experiences, and that is where there are enormous difficulties for business owners. Today customers are not a mass; they are individuals with differentiated and specific behaviors and tastes to whom personalized experiences must be offered. This soft skill is key to improving sales, the reputation of the business, and its image. It is required to differentiate the company from competitors

As a customer-oriented business, the customers should come first in the decision-making process. To offer your customers personalized services, you and your team must have customers at the center of every strategy at an integral level.

Hard Skill vs. Soft Skill

Hard skills are associated with specific technical training and knowledge, while soft skills are personality traits such as creativity, communication, or a positive mindset. Both skills are necessary to grow and advance in business successfully.

Below, let’s look at the difference between hard and soft skills.

The difference between hard skills and soft skills 

The significant differences between hard skills and soft skills are based on how they are acquired and used in the business and workplace. Hard skills are mostly acquired through specific training and education. They include competencies and abilities like how to use a particular software, machine, or another tool. This is knowledge of how to handle a task technically.

While soft skills are seen as personality traits, you may have developed your whole life. They are required when you manage your time, communicate with others, or face difficult situations for the first time. Simply put, hard skills are better explained as your technical knowledge, while soft skills are your overall habits and attitude at work.

How to develop soft skills

Developing soft skills is essential for personal and professional growth. If you are interested in developing soft skills effectively, follow these steps:

  • Self-Awareness

Start with assessing your soft skills. Identify areas where improvement is needed. Seek feedback from colleagues, supervisors, or mentors to gain insights into your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Set Clear Goals

Setting specific and measurable goals for each soft skill you want to develop is highly important. For instance, if you want to improve communication, set a goal to speak confidently during team meetings.

  • Continuous Learning

Invest time in learning about the soft skills you wish to develop. Read books, take online courses, or attend workshops related to these skills.

  • Practice Regularly

Apply what you learn in your daily life and work. Regular practice is key to improvement. If you’re working on leadership skills, take on leadership roles in team projects or volunteer opportunities.

  • Observe Role Models

Identify people known for their strong soft skills and observe their behavior. Learn from their communication style, empathy, or conflict resolution techniques.

  • Mentorship

Consider seeking a mentor who can provide guidance and feedback on your soft skills development. Learn from their experiences and insights.

  • Measure your progress

Regularly assess your progress toward your soft skills development goals. Celebrate achievements and adjust your approach as needed.

  • Stay Persistent

Developing soft skills takes time and persistence. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Keep working on improvement, even when faced with challenges.

Developing soft skills is an ongoing process that requires commitment and self-awareness. By following these steps, I believe you can achieve your goals faster.

Finally

Every successful business has its own success story, which can be spontaneous from the outside. Still, it does not necessarily display the qualities and sacrifices made by the owner.

Behind each success story lie an astounding number of soft skills honed until they became second nature. To shape your business story and forge ahead toward sustainable growth, you’ll be grateful to learn and cultivate as many soft skills as possible.

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Tetiana Artemova

Tetiana Artemova is an entrepreneur and owner of IStartHub, a business media for ambitious female entrepreneurs and small business owners.