The debate rages on as to whether people can be taught to become great entrepreneurs or whether some of us are just wired or born with the personalities and characteristics of successful business owners. WVF thinks that with the right training and a commitment to life-long learning, you can be profitable running your own business.

We’ve identified five critical skill sets that you should target in 2015 to set you on the path to becoming a strong business leader. Make sure you set aside a slot of time each month to improve these skills, either through self-study or in-class training:
  • Improve your writing skills. There is nothing more off-putting—and detrimental to your brand—than a poorly written website, brochure or email. You’re just not credible if you don’t have a good handle on the English language. Once you’ve improved your writing skills (or hired a copywriter to produce your written material), then learn how to write persuasively.
  • Hone your verbal communication skills. Ask a family member or friend who has great oral communication skills to honestly critique yours and give you some pointers. Then practice, practice, practice. (Yes, you can eliminate the ‘ums’ and ‘ers’!)
  • Self-identify as an ambivert: It is generally believed that extroverts make the best salespersons; and that introverts are at a distinct disadvantage. Not so according to a study by Adam M. Grant entitled Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal: The Ambivert Advantage (Wharton School of the University of Penn). Salespersons who are ambiverts—falling in the middle of the spectrum between introverts and extroverts—averaged 24% higher sales per hour than extroverts.  Ambiverts are more likely to attain a balance of characteristics that make them good salespeople—flexible, emotionally stable, approachable and therefore influential and trustworthy. Contrast these traits with those you associate with extroverts: boisterous, overly confident, aggressive and so talkative that they don’t listen.
  • Get organized: You’ll save time and probably money.  For instance, on January 1st be ready to properly note and file away each and every business receipt…make an appointment to speak with your accountant about ways to save on your business…and identify your time-wasting activities so you can immediately get rid of them or rethink them to make yourself more productive.  Tip: Do you have a dreaded task facing you on a regular basis? Make this onerous task the first thing you do in the morning—consistently—freeing you for the rest of the day to be creative about your business.
  • Develop market research skills: Successful entrepreneurs know their customers, their competition and their industry inside and out. Learn how to conduct and analyze surveys; and create focus groups to ensure you are meeting customer’s needs. Monitor your competitors through google alerts and news feeds. Choose who you want to follow and how frequently you want to receive alerts about what they are doing. Set alerts to receive industry news and keep up with your sector trends through publications, conferences and memberships. The more you know, the more you grow.