Entrepreneurs need to wear many hats. Meeting with potential financial backers, analyzing market needs, and driving a team’s performance are challenging situations requiring very different skill sets. And yet when you run a business, you’ll have to tackle all of those and more, sometimes in the same day.
As a startup founder, you might find this intimidating. What began as a promising business idea is now threatening to become a maze of unforeseen requirements you must navigate to succeed. School education or previous job experience can easily fall short in preparing you for this.
Yet somehow, people with no previous background in entrepreneurship still manage to launch businesses and thrive over time. You’ll need a lot of different skills, but mastery in all of them isn’t required. Some of them can be delegated from the outset. Here’s a closer look at what you need.
Priorities fluctuate over time
Our education system attempts to form well-rounded students. Each term begins with a set of subjects following a prescribed curriculum. Eventually, you have to hurdle the GCSE or its equivalent in other countries. This sort of test requires you to have a broad mastery over each essential subject.
Launching a startup, however, is an entirely different challenge. It evolves, and you have far less flexibility in terms of preparation. Startups move through different phases. The gestation period, during which you flesh out your concept and conduct extensive market research, can take years. But when you’ve built a team and managed to raise some funding, there’s pressure to make rapid progress. Investors expect time-based results; team members need to be compensated for their time and effort.
The pace of change accelerates, and you need to adapt in response. But the most useful skills in any stage will vary. Some of them might not be important until later on. You can more or less wing it in terms of coaching your team members, for instance, while you focus on product testing and spreading positive word of mouth. This fluctuation over time means you don’t need to be able to wear all the different hats from the outset.
Expand knowledge proactively
Taking an on-the-fly approach to your skill proficiency is not only practical but necessary as your startup continues to evolve. It might not suffice to cover all the needs. Proper accounting, for example, is a highly complex task for the uninitiated. You might want to delegate the job to someone on your team who has the skills. Or even better, have a firm of chartered accountants and business advisers like Bryden Johnson ensure that your books are in order.
Running a business would be much easier if you could assemble a team of individuals who can perfectly complement and balance one another in terms of skill. Or if you could afford professional services for every need, you could easily focus on what you do best. However, the reality is often quite far from the dream scenario. As a result, every startup has to allocate its resources wisely.
If you remain reactive, you’re likely to be limited to meeting the minimum requirements of each challenge. This can lead to a fair share of stumbles and last-minute consultations with experts to get you out of difficulty. Taking a proactive approach to addressing skill needs will help you mitigate costs and risks.
It’s one thing to delegate a seasonal job, but if you foresee long-term needs, start learning the requisite skills now. Bootstrapping might have gotten you out of the gate, but if you want to fund further growth, begin to rehearse your elevator pitch and other relevant communication skills.
Sticking to core competencies
Success tends to beget more success. When your startup finds traction, and you’ve managed to scale, the odds of survival increase. You’ll have more time to sharpen your skills and figure out how to wear the different hats associated with entrepreneurship.
Paradoxically, though, this is also the time when your success affords you the chance to delegate more effectively. Your team can expand. You can hire a specialist or invest in training existing personnel to take on more specific roles.
People crave growth. If it’s in line with their interests, empowering your team members to handle different skills can increase their satisfaction and performance. But you might also want to upskill yourself and embrace the challenge of a new role.
No matter which direction you take, be guided by your core competencies. Everyone can be more effective when they stay true to what they do best. The business itself will continue to thrive as long as it’s focused on those differentiating qualities.
You’re expected to wear different hats as an entrepreneur. It’s a challenge, but not an impossible one. With the right outlook, you can adapt as needed and drive your business to success.