When you think of the many skills needed to invent a new way of doing something, build a business model around it, recruit and retain talented people to create, innovate, distribute, and evangelize it, stay ahead of market shifts, competition, and an ADD consumer base, it can be a pretty difficult task to rank them in an indisputable order.
The truth is that on any given day or market cycle that order may change by the necessity and needs of your business, so you could also argue that the entire exercise is mute.
Skills that must be developed are not limited to but include: Creativity, Logical Analysis, Reason, Influence, Vision, Salesmanship, Leadership, Negotiating, Thick-Skin, Persistence, Energy management and Utilization, the willingness to Break Rules, Trend Spotting, Resiliency, etc.
However I would like to be bold and say that if you were to list the one skill that all successful and resilient (yes because the successful ones fail too and fail often) entrepreneurs and business leaders have is RESOURCEFULNESS and the ability to be RESOURCE PARSIMONIOUS.
The Entrepreneur by nature of its job description takes calculated risk in the endeavor to make something of value where nothing existing previously, and in order to be effective at making something out of nothing, one must become very proficient and comfortable working with NOTHING in the NOTHINGNESS, and managing to create inside of a world of near term (and typically rather significant) constraints.
When the rubber meets the road the reason I believe that 95% of new ventures fail is due NOT to a lack of resources (that is the even playing field we all play on) but due to a lack of RESOURCEFULNESS and proper deployment of the limited resources around them to build something that can continue to attact more and more resources to grow and become sustainable.
My tips from 12 years on the battlefield for cultivating RESOURCEFULNESS
1) When you look at every decision that has to be made you will be investing Time or Money (and in most cases…BOTH) so do a real-time checkup on your current asset base of each and leverage the stronger one to create more of the other one or offset its deficit.
2) Each investment of Time and Money needs to produce you an ROI in the positive of each. For example spending a few hours learning to code a wordpress site or landing page and content series to attract your target demographic into your database or social reach can save you Money when starting out, but also return to you TIME once it’s up because it can work for you aggregating leads and following up with them in an automated fashion to build more acceleration into your sales cycle (ROI of more money). The next time around it may make more sense to invest MONEY with a quality web developer to save your TIME and produce more value and momentum.
3) Money and Time flow where your Attention is and wants to be, so there will always be something you say you can’t afford to do today, but you will still spend Time and Money on other things, so the reality check comes when you are honest with yourself about where you are investing your resources and whether they are feeding your personal desires or what the business needs most in that situation.
4) Learn to manage credit and debt masterfully and learn to create it in non-traditional ways because you will always need to find ways to pay for services or inventory as you grow and won’t likely have a VC or Bank to help you. If you do then this is a great practice to get in anyway so that you can keep your CASH balances high for when there truly is no other way to pay for your growth.
5) Network and learn to become a valued person of interest within your business and social circle and help others when nothing directly benefits you in that interaction at that time. I can’t tell you how many times people have showed up and saved me in one situation or another from relationships I cultivated of reciprocity 5-7 years earlier when the only thing we had in common was our love of this game and creating new ideas.
6) Stay humble and learn to thrive under pressure and never forget the lean and tough times and how you were able to get a lot done when you had nothing. This will keep you disciplined when liquidity is pouring in and prevent you from blowing the hard earned upside.
7) The last thing to remember is the most important: EVERYTHING you have done in your life as a hobby, career, educational pursuit, etc. and EVERY relationship you have had personally, professionally, etc. and EVERY SUCCESS AND FAILURE has created an abundant and personal war-chest of valuable insights, and unique solution sets that you can call on to create resources and answers in tough times and in pressure packed situations to WIN. Don’t be afraid to use every last ounce of your past to shape your future by making the next right decision in the present.