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18 Jul, 2022 - 4 min read

Essential skills for an entrepreneur

Are entrepreneurs born or made? We think both.

While it helps to have that entrepreneurial flair inbuilt, there’s no reason you can’t learn and develop the qualities of an entrepreneur.

Here, we share three essential skills for taking ventures from ideas to reality.

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Essential skill #1: falling in love with the problem, not the solution.

Successful products, services and businesses solve problems for people. Good ideas often stem from our experiences - opportunities we’ve seen that have come from problems we’ve had. But the idea is simply the starting place. The most important task is to qualify that problem actually exists.

Founder of rental matchmaker technology platform Pickmee, and Industry Advisor to Tech Futures Lab Felix Scholz, believes this is the first place all entrepreneurs need to start. 

“You must fall in love with the problem, not the solution. Even if you think you know the solution, you must first understand the problem because the solution is still a hypothesis.” 

Falling in love with the problem will keep you determined to explore all the possibilities. It’ll make sure you focus on testing and talking with as many people as you can to try and knock your hypothesis off its feet.

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Essential skill #2: spotting patterns to be ready to pounce on opportunities.

Alongside fully understanding the problem you’re trying to solve, being able to spot patterns is another skill to master. In today’s innovation-led marketplace, spotting opportunities offers a first mover advantage. And it’s a success factor that’s seen the likes of Amazon and Netflix become the giants they are today.

Pattern recognition is about being able to spot technology or societal driven trends and link them together to find the patterns that underpin them. Like how Netflix linked the growth in cloud computing, expansion of internet bandwidth and the increasing costs of traditional postage services to confirm that a content streaming service was their opportunity for evolution.

Being able to see patterns helps you steer towards, or away from, disruptive trends. It’ll allow you to leverage any research and problem definition you’ve been building in the background.

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Spooky Productions Director and Founder of virtual live event platforms Sideline.Live and LiveEventApp, Luke Thompson, always watches trends to stay one step ahead of the market. With a long list of potential ventures in his pocket, Luke’s ability to see what’s coming and link those patterns together has been how he’s leapt from one innovation to another.

“Sometimes when you’ve got a business idea it takes a while for everything to land and be ready. The idea I wanted to pursue [Sideline.Live] wasn’t a new idea but it was something I’d just persisted with. I knew it was coming and all the technologies just started to align.”

Pattern recognition is as important in taking advantage of trends as it is to avoid making the same mistakes time and again. For Luke Thompson, it’s part of the entrepreneur’s lot.

“If you really are an entrepreneur you’re always mitigating risk but there’s no guarantees. Lean into it, learn from it and go with the ups and downs. It’s the journey that gives you the resilience to carry on and learn to understand what’s coming next.”

Essential skill #3: Bringing the right people on the journey with you

Being an entrepreneur often implies you’re doing it alone. But that can be a lonely journey and it’s fair to say, no one can do it all by themselves.

Recognising the power of the collective is a third top skill to gain, from sharing your vision to making it happen.

Entrepreneur Matthew Cutts, creator of the Bank of Smiles app, knew what he wanted to do, but not how to do it. So his first step was getting the right skills on the task.

“I spent about 5 minutes figuring out that I didn’t have the skills or tools to take on the technology development myself. So I searched around and got someone on board who would share the vision and do the development.”

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Animation and gaming developer Bradley Walker, founder of Adrenaline Group has always understood his role cannot span all the parts of his business.

“Getting the right people on board to give you the experience they have and guide you through spaces that you don’t know about is key.”

On your own entrepreneurial journey? Don’t do it alone.

Learning on the job is the fastest way to get from A to B. But preparing with essential skills and sharing the journey with others is invaluable to both your experience and your results. Tech Futures Lab’s new Entrepreneurship micro-credential is a fantastic way to do both at once.