Brad Kleinman of Corporate College, a division of Cuyahoga Community College, thinks that mastering five core skills will enable entrepreneurs to be successful in both business and in life.
“You can’t measure the five skills anatomically,” says Kleinman, associate director of the Key Entrepreneur Development Center. “But knowing where you’re weak and where you’re strong allows you to focus on an optimal training program for you. Education can vastly improve whatever innate skills you have.”
Smart Business talked with Kleinman about the five core skills and how they can help ensure a small-business person’s success.
What are the five core entrepreneurial skills?
- Management of self — A dedicated
entrepreneur needs a certain amount of
self-discipline to continually get up early
and stay up late to ensure the business’s
- Management of others — An entrepreneur needs to focus on his or her
strengths and fill in weaknesses with other
individuals to help reach your goals.
- Communication — Of all the core
skills, the ability to communicate is perhaps most key to a successful business and
a successful life.
- Decision-making — This is not just
the ability to make a hard decision, but the
ability to make a quick decision, using
technology to mitigate risks. Given our current economics and the emerging global
economy, quick, accurate decisions are
- Opportunity recognition — One of
the most important skills is the ability to
see gold where others see a void. Many
people, depending on their mindset, might
not see an opportunity around Cleveland.
We see opportunities everywhere.
Is passion for your job a core skill?
Some people just want to be in their own business and stick with that — no help, just go. There will always be people that will still be successful and make something great happen, no matter how few people they interact with.
Other people want to work with others. Either way, there has to be some excitement about learning and doing business.
Passion alone does not determine whether you’ll be successful, but if you want to be a successful entrepreneur and be in it for the long haul, you have to stick to it. Passion goes hand in hand with ‘stick-to-it-iveness.’
If you don’t love what you do, there’s no room for you in the entrepreneurial world. I’m not saying that you have to like what you’re doing to make a lot of money. But believing in your business and having passion for it can help immerse it in viral buzz and good word-of-mouth.
How important is continuing education to a busy entrepreneur?
Nobody’s perfect. Everybody can get better. We should always be on a path of constant improvement and striving for excellence, especially if we have the passion for it.
We work for a large percent of our life, so we might as well have a good time doing it and be really good at it. We need to train our minds and our bodies all the time to be better at what we do.
From a student’s standpoint, professional development classes can be a comfortable and informal experience, or they can be a hands-on experience where a business planner dives into business plans.
You can enhance your business experience by listening to people who have been successful and kicking some ideas around with them. When you work with people on these ideas, you create an environment that reinforces the notion that this isn’t just about making money, it’s about doing good, about providing value for others.
How important is actually experiencing what it’s like to have your own business?
We work with a lot of different businesses that are in the small-scale lifestyle arena. It’s the American dream.
Anyone who might be thinking about being a small-business person cannot know whether they’re capable or whether they can be successful unless they experience it. I suggest starting a small business on the side while you work a 40-hour-a-week job, if you do not have a noncompete agreement with your employer. You get to find out your business strengths and weaknesses, and you get to explore your market with a long-term perspective — not because you have to make a dollar now.
You’ve got to try some of this stuff, you’ve got to experience it. It’s all about what works for you. Go out and make it happen.
BRAD KLEINMAN is associate director of the Key Entrepreneur Development Center at Corporate College, a division of Cuyahoga Community College. Reach him at (216) 987-2946 or firstname.lastname@example.org.