3 Critical Skills for Entrepreneurial Success by @artistsedge

Photo Credit: NEC Corporation of America via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: NEC Corporation of America via Compfight cc

by Debra Russell | Featured Contributor

In my 13+ years of business coaching, I’ve worked with entrepreneurs and small business owners from many industries, though my specialty is in the Arts & Entertainment industry.

As a result, I’ve come to 2 conclusions:

  1. Not all people are cut out to be entrepreneurs / business owners
  2. Talent and passion are not enough

Are You Cut Out to Be an Entrepreneur?

There’s a lot of hype and romance around being a business owner, thanks to folks like Robert Kiyosaki, who make it almost embarrassing to be happy as an employee.

I’m the first to say – if being an employee suits your personality and your lifestyle – DO THAT! There is no shame in loving your job and being happy in that role. I couldn’t do it, myself. And I envy that a little. I’ve never had a paid vacation in my life – and there are times when I would kill to be paid to take 2 weeks off!

Knowing yourself, what you want, and what you’re willing to do in order to be successful should precede any decision to start your own business.

Is this you?

  • You thrive in a highly structured environment where others make the key decisions
  • When you see a situation with a clear risk of failure, you walk in the other direction
  • You know what you’re good at, and don’t really want to spend time doing anything else
  • You prefer to climb a clearly laid out path toward advancement and success

If this sounds like you, you will be better served finding a well-paying job doing tasks that suit your skills and interests.

If, however you are more like this:

  • You want to be the decision maker and prefer setting up your own schedule and structure
  • You lean in to fear and risk, not in a self-destructive way, but because you relish the challenge
  • You enjoy the variability of wearing different hats, you savor the way different activities make you think and feel
  • You prefer to blaze your own trail, if it’s too simple, easy and direct, you’re bored

If this second set of bullet points sound more like you – you may already have the makings of a successful entrepreneur. However, there are skills that you will need to learn in order to create real, lasting and sustainable success.

Talent and Passion are Not Enough

So you have these basic entrepreneurial characteristics. And you believe in yourself and have the talent and passion for your business.

I’m a big fan of Shark Tank (I know, non-sequitur, but stay with me here). A recurring theme of the show, which I’ve also seen in my practice, is that it takes more than a really cool product and a lot of passion for your business to create success. Many contestants have the talent and passion, but still don’t get funded. So what’s missing?

These 3 Critical Skills

  1. Emotional Intelligence
  2. Business Fundamentals
  3. Self-Generated Motivation and Momentum

This will be an overview of each. In subsequent articles, I’ll be diving deeper into each one.

1) Emotional Intelligence

The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

As an entrepreneur, you must:

  • Be willing to take risks,
  • Be able to handle fear and doubt (yours and others)
  • Have a high tolerance for uncertainty, change and upheaval
  • Be able to inspire others (your team and your customers)
  • Connect with people and communicate your passion

Emotional Intelligence underlies all of these traits. Your EQ is not about suppressing your emotions or denying them. It’s not even about pushing through in spite of your emotions.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to use your own emotions to motivate yourself, and the ability to see others’ emotions clearly and compassionately.

Many of the characteristics I explored in the first part of this article are actually Emotional Intelligence skills. And the good news is that you can increase your EQ – if you’re willing to do the work.

I’ll be sharing some techniques and tips in the next article to help you increase your emotional intelligence quotient!

2) Business Fundamentals

Running a business isn’t rocket science. But as I’ve said, it’s not enough to make a great product or service. There is a set of skills and some foundational knowledge that you must have to create and sustain a successful business. Some of those skills include:

  • Time management and project management
  • Financial management
  • Marketing, promotion and sales (online and off-line)
  • Building and managing a team
  • Creating systems and procedures

Some of these skills can be outsourced (either to employees or independent contractors). But if you don’t have a fundamental understanding of the skill, you’ll find it more difficult to evaluate prospective employee’s quality and skill. And it’s more difficult to communicate what you want, if you can’t speak their language.  And if you completely hand it over to someone – what will you do if/when they leave?

Plus, in the start-up phase of your business, you will likely be doing many of these activities yourself – hence the need to enjoy wearing multiple hats!

Fundamental business skills will allow you to create success and maintain it over the long-term. I could write a book on each and every one of these business skills, but in my upcoming article, I’ll explore some of the key concepts and share some resources for your ongoing business skill development.

3) Self-Generated Motivation and Momentum

Have you ever noticed that we tend to keep our appointments and commitments with others and break them with ourselves?

When you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have a manager telling you what to do, or when its due or what your priorities should be – you have to figure that out yourself! And you have to hold yourself accountable.

As an entrepreneur – you set your priorities and drive yourself into action. You decide what’s important. And you push past your own obstacles to take action. You don’t have a boss expecting you to finish the work – you’re the boss!

It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.
Zig Ziglar

Action creates its own momentum. Remember a body in motion tends to stay in motion! This third skill also has aspects of both emotional intelligence and business skills. Because you need EQ to overcome your internal blocks and business skills to know which actions to take when!

I look forward to helping you get into action and stay in action!

Quick question – on a scale of 1-10 – how do you rate yourself in these 3 critical skills? And share with me your number one question in these areas! I will endeavor to answer your questions in my subsequent articles.


Debra RussellDebra Russell, Certified Business Coach, founder of Artist’s EDGE, Certified Master Results Coach and Master NLP and Hypnosis Practitioner, uses her business knowledge and ability to facilitate change and growth to help small business owners create a prosperous and sustainable living doing what you love.

Debra specializes in small business and the Arts and Entertainment Industry and has delivered several innovative programs for entertainment industry trade conferences, Universities and Colleges and private organizations across the United States and in Europe and Australia.

As a fan and follower of SheOwnsIt.com, Debra is thrilled to offer women business owners her expertise in the day to day management of your small business and support in overcoming the challenges to success we all face as independent entrepreneurs.

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